Saturday, 20 November 2010
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.