Monday, 24 June 2013

Overcoming fear

I think the Little Big Fella had just turned two years old when he got his first bike... motorbike, that is.  The Big Fella bought it and "tested" it at work:

And the Little Big Fella loved it from Day 1!

He literally did (and does) sit on it and pretend to be riding!

So either the Big Fella or I would jump on the back with the Little Big Fella and take him for rides around the yard, or just up the road to a big paddock, or around the lagoons.

At that point he was riding a pushbike with a handle on the back.  He couldn't steer in a straight line, so we had to "adjust" his trajectory for him.

Over time he's gotten great at riding his pushy.  He and I used to ride along the Esplanade on our bikes, and he even got to the point of riding over the ramps at the park.

When he ruined his "old" pushbike (I'm not sure toddler bikes are designed for skate ramps), the Big Fella bought him a really good BMX-style bike.  It's tough and should last for at least a couple of years.  Unlike his previous bike, which had back-pedal brakes, this one has handle-bar brakes.

During our rides together on the motorbike, we'd gotten to the point that the Little Big Fella did the majority of the steering and throttle control.

So now the Little Big Fella had developed the ability to ride in a straight line, and the ability to use handle-bar brakes, and an understanding of how to use the throttle.  In theory, he could ride his motorbike all by himself.

In theory.

The problem is, he was too afraid.

The Little Big Fella had the skills he needed, he just needed the confidence in his abilities.

The Big Fella tried forcing the Little Big Fella to do it on his own.  But that seemed to make him more afraid.  He tried coercion, to no avail.

How do you help someone overcome their fear?

Sometimes the solution is to build that confidence little by little.

The Big Fella somehow got the Little Big Fella to sit on the motorbike all by himself.  That in itself was a bit of a feat!

Then Daddy got his son to keep his feet on the ground and move forward just a foot.

And then a little bit more.

And then a couple of big steps.

And then a couple of metres.

And then along one side of the yard.

And then he was off!  (Cautiously.)

The dogs thought it was great fun running around with him (possibly the most exercise they've had in a little while!).

The Little Big Fella was so impressed with himself!!!

Daddy started riding my pushbike around to keep up with the Little Big Fella, but then decided that his big motorbike was a much better idea!

The Little Big Fella wanted to show me, and then he wanted all his friends to come around and see him do it.  And then he wanted to ride all yesterday, and all of today, and will probably ask first thing tomorrow morning!

The Big Fella was so impressed and excited that he called his parents, then my parents (who are part of the Ulysses) to brag.

It is definitely a momentous day in my son's life!

The whole process got me thinking a bit about fear though.  The Little Big Fella had what he needed to move forward, but fear stopped him for months!  And I wonder how many times I've let fear hold me back.  And how many times others have helped me moved forward, little bit by little bit, until I realised I could do it on my own!

Maybe it's time to take a leaf out of my son's book and overcome a little (or big) fear.

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