Saturday, 20 November 2010

The art of falling down

Some time ago our son rolled off his blanket and hit his head on the wooden floor. Not hard enough to make him cry, but hard enough to make him look around a bit shocked. I was on the way to pick him up and put him back on the softer surface, when he rolled again and hit his head again. When he rolled for the third time he kept his head up and lowered it down very very slowly. Only then I understood that he was learning the art of falling down...

When I started learning how to ski and then snowboard I remember being taught how to fall down. I don't remember anymore if I enjoyed it or not, but I remember being told over and over again, that we had to know how to fall down, because whether we liked it or not we will, sooner or later, fall. And when we do, it's best if we know how.

I would love for my son always to be safe, never to worry that something is going to happen to him, but I know already that's impossible. I will worry. I already do. But I know that I will worry less if I know that he knows how to take care of himself. And one of the ways in which he can learn to take care of himself is learning how to fall.

There is a lot of exploring newborn people have ahead of them, and a lot of it in the beginning is focussed around their bodies and their closest environment. Our son has a safe place where he spends most of his time, constantly discovering. The space is big enough so he can roll around. But even in the safest of places there is a piece of wooden floor, a plastic toy, bars. And then there is all the movement to be discovered, movement that can potentially lead to falling down. But that's okay, because that is what the world out there looks like. There will always be unknown situations, unfamiliar street corners, new surroundings, and the best way to learn how to manoeuvre out there is to start from the beginning.

 Dr Emmi Pikler says this about falling: 'It is important that the infant becomes careful herself. When, out of fear that she might hurt herself, we protect her from every bump, and pad everything around her, we really are not helping her. We should let an infant try things out for himself. If he has bumped himself two or three times, he will instinctively learn to protect himself.'

With new movements comes new 'body memory'. So far our son has learnt that he can roll over without hitting his head. If we put pillows all around him, he would not know that. We would be putting him in danger of hurting himself more when, at some point, we would not be around to put pillows or catch him. And with new body memory, comes more secure movement. Less restricted movement. Because now he knows, that he will fall. And he knows how to do it.


  1. Wow! Ania, this is beautifully expressed. I just discovered your blog and am thrilled that you will be sharing your day to day parenting experiences using Magda Gerber's RIE Approach. I'm eager to hear more! (It's been a little lonely out here...thanks so much for the link!)

    I can promise that you will never regret this path you are on...treating your son as a whole person with a unique point-of-view, deserving of respect. Yay! You have many wonderful surprises in store for you.:)

  2. Janet, thank you so much. We have loved every moment of our life together so far. I think what I've enjoyed the most is just looking at Antek and realizing that every da I know him a little better...and maybe he knows us a little better.

    Your blog has been incredibly helpful and inspiring. Thank you so much :)

    Yes, you're right a bit lonely out there - I am scared to look for parenting answers online ;)