Yesterday afternoon I took my boys to a park. It’s not close to where they or I live. We’ve visited it several times.
At the park’s playground is a large concrete structure. One of the sides is a vertical wall about six to seven feet high. There are lots of pipes bent into loops sticking out to climb on.
I challenged my boys to climb it. They were both nervous. Soon my six-year-old had climbed to the top and was waving happily at me.
My nine-year-old made several attempts, never getting more than a foot or two off the ground.
My six-year-old eventually made the climb thirty times.
I asked my nine-year-old why he hadn’t made it up yet. He was scared. I showed him how easy it was for his brother. There was nothing to be afraid of. I offered him whatever help he needed.
He refused to make the climb.
He just wanted to go home and watch TV.
I told him we weren’t leaving until he climbed at least once.
After some coaxing he started to climb.
I gave him directions.
I held his feet so they wouldn’t slip.
He got scared. He tried to climb back down.
I wouldn’t let him.
I told him he could do it. That he was almost there.
His younger brother stood at the top, offering him help.
Eventually he made it.
He was shaking like a leaf.
On the way home I talked to him about the experience. We discussed why it’s important to do things even though we’re afraid. That anything worth doing is going to be scary at first.
It’s advice I needed to hear.
Did I do the right thing? I don’t know.
I’ve seen him give up out of fear so many times before. He needs to break this habit.
So do I.