Do you realize your fears can hinder your child’s physical development? Yes,that’s true and your child’s inability to accomplish certain ordinary things can work against his confidence and positive view of himself. Let me explain.
Several years ago Joey (not his real name), about ten, was brought to me because he had almost become paralyzed by his fear of bugs. He didn’t want to play outside and, therefore, avoided it whenever possible. Instead of engaging in outdoor activities he developed a strong attachment to video games he could play inside. The parents did little to counter his fears until Joey insisted he wanted to join the Boy Scouts. That’s when they brought him to me.
The parents were concerned that “scouting” would put him in situations where he would encounter bugs and many different kinds of critters.(I believe, in his own way, Joey was asking for help).After building trust with him, we did activities to ally his fear of bugs. Through much work, he actually came to the place where he could hold a bug in his hand, a great accomplishment!
The bigger issue I found was that Joey was severely limited in many things a ten-year-old might do. He could not ride a bicycle and was woefully behind in his ability to hit a ball or play other games boys his age could play. The source of Joey’s problem was his mother’s fear which resulted in over-protection. The father, to this point, had been complicit in that he had not pushed back against her emotional control of Joey. The road ahead for Joey and the development of a good sense of himself would be more difficult than it had to be because he was physically behind in several skills. Of course, this delay affected his confidence in social relations as well.
As a parent you have lots of influence on your child’s physical,emotional and social development. You must realize what your fears are and not impose them on your child.While it is your job to protect your child from situations they cannot handle you must also realize your child needs to be allowed to do things that can be hurtful. Of course, your child could be stung by an insect. Of course, he could have a wreck on a bicycle. Yes, he could be hit by a ball. However, taking risks is a part of the process of growing up. It is your job to encourage certain risks which can lead to skill development and the building of confidence. Choose activities that are age-appropriate and do what you can to keep your child safe.
Allowing your child to acquire game skills and other individual physical skills is part of helping him develop a good sense of himself. Being able to participate in things other boys and girls do also has the potential for building social and emotional skills.