Be careful not to push a child past his natural limits of fear and caution
p. 177 "if we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him. If, however, we are careful not to push a child beyond the limits of his courage, he is almost sure to get braver."
p. 178 "But we respected her natural timidity and caution. The result was that she wanted, and leaned to combat her fears and overcome them."
p. 182 "then the lifeguard joined me in telling him that he had to stay at the shallow end, that he wan't big enough or a good enough swimmer to swim at the deep end. For a while he argues, as best he could, but when he realized that we were really not going to let him swim in the whole pool, he began to cry, or rather, to roar, with disappointment, humiliation, and rage."
"It seems to me now that we were very foolish and mistaken in what we did. If I had it to do again, I would say, "Okay, swim to the deep end if you want, and I'll just swim along with you." I don't blame him in the least for being indignant that we denied it to him and, after all his good work, gave him this ringing vote of No Confidence."
Why are we so unwilling to let our children explore "deep water?" Is it because we are too lazy to go with them and provide a safety net for their exploration? Aaron is such a fearless and determined soul and we are constantly telling him he can't do all the things he wants to do. How do I help him safely push the limits of his existence?
Advance and retreat, exploration and consolidation
p. 187 "A very common pattern in children's learning. First a great bold leap forward into exciting new territory. Then, for a short while, a retreat back into what is comfortable, familiar, and secure. But we can't predict, much less control, these rhythms of advance and retreat, exploration and consolidation, and this is one of the main reasons why the learning of children can't, or at least shouldn't, be scheduled."
I see this a lot with Jonathan. Once introduced to a new skill, he cannot adopt it right away. He has to ruminate on it for an hour or two, a day or two, a week or two, or longer. Then all of a sudden he surprises me by doing (without coercion or persuasion) that which he was so afraid or unable to do before. I remember last summer how I tried to teach him to swim and he rebelled against my efforts to push him to swim without floaties. Then one day he decided on his own to try. It helped that his friend Christopher was already swimming without floaties. He never feared again.
Competence models in sports
p. 189 Children learn to play sports much faster and more naturally when they can play with, see, and imitate older kids.