There are some activities children are sure they
can do without assistance, like roller-skating or riding a bicycle. This is
very unlikely. These kinds of skills can only be learned through experience.
There is virtually no way you can convince your child ahead of time she does
not know how to roller-skate or ride a bicycle. She may have to find that out
before she cooperates enough to let you help her.
First she must get on the bicycle or on the
roller-skates and give it a try. When she finds she is unsuccessful, she may
want nothing to do with the bicycle or roller-skates. your gentle support and
encouragement usually gets her to try again, if you promise not to let her
fall. You help her to maintain balance in her initial efforts to ride or skate.
This works out fine for a little while. Now, let go and let her try it on her
own, knowing she probably again goes some distance and falls. You cheerfully
help, let her try it on her own, and then help again, with an ample supply of
bumps and bruises being added along the way. After a while, she rides the bike
and roller-skates on her own. Even then she likely becomes increasingly more
daring and presses the limits of her abilities. Wrecks and falls again occur.
By then, though, she can back off to where she is able to skillfully ride the
bike or roller-skate, only occasionally having an accident.
Teaching children to cook, play ball, water ski,
and swim follow this same pattern. It may be a long time before they are ready
to participate in the activity as a pastime or simply for the pleasure of it.
your role is teacher, consoler, and encourager – the voice reminding them not
to ride so fast or recklessly, not to skate down steep hills, not to throw the
ball toward the window, not to swim into deep water, and so on. You set and
enforce the boundaries and limits even while helping your children learn about
physical skills and activities.