My son was at a trampoline park a few months ago and I took this picture because it made me think of a concept I learned in a gamification class from Mario Herger last year. As humans we love challenging ourselves with obstacles. Often times we find obstacles so engaging we will intentionally give ourselves challenges in order to see how far we can push ourselves, as well as how we compare to others when presented with obstacles. Sometimes we enjoy obstacles so much we will find overcoming such obstacles is the most rewarding part of what we are looking to accomplish. The designers of golf courses create sand traps in locations of the course that create obstacles to make a difficult game even more difficult. When the kids in the photo were given a foam pit to jump into they found merely jumping into the pit wasn’t fun, or challenging enough so they built a foam wall to try and jump over. In life do you have a foam wall to challenge you? If you do have a wall is it challenging enough to push yourself to heights you didn’t know you were capable?
One parent’s plea to the other parents at the playground: please don’t help my kids.
“They’re not here to be at the top of the ladder; they are here to learn to climb. If they can’t do it on their own, they will survive the disappointment. What’s more, they will have a goal and the incentive to work to achieve it.
In the meantime, they can use the stairs. I want them to tire of their own limitations and decide to push past them and put in the effort to make that happen without any help from me.
It is not my job — and it is certainly not yours — to prevent my children from feeling frustration, fear, or discomfort. If I do, I have robbed them of the opportunity to learn that those things are not the end of the world, and can be overcome or used to their advantage.
If they get stuck, it is not my job to save them immediately. If I do, I have robbed them of the opportunity to learn to calm themselves, assess their situation, and try to problem solve their own way out of it.
It is not my job to keep them from falling. If I do, I have robbed them of the opportunity to learn that falling is possible but worth the risk, and that they can, in fact, get up again.”