No one wants to see their child, or any other child, fall and get hurt, me included. That said, I think it is important for kids to learn that falling happens and to get back up, with your encouragement. I have seen the tendency for a child to fall, and not hurt themselves, and they get so much attention for the fall that they learn to start crying anytime they stumble. Its important to make sure your child isn’t seriously hurt when they fall but its also important to teach them to ‘brush it off’ and get back up again. By over-reacting to their falling they tend to increase the amount of crying they do as well as their need for attention.
In addition to building their resilience, falling also teaches kids safety awareness. I have seen kids who have never been allowed to fall and they have no concept of their own safety. They plow straight ahead without any balance because someone has always caught them or stopped them before they lost their balance. I think its great if you can set up a ‘safe’ environment for your child to start learning to walk and letting them topple occasionally. The great thing is that you will be there to make sure they aren’t going to go head first into the corner. If it looks like it will be a bigger fall and may be scary for them I will often assist their fall but I still let them go to the ground. I then work on teaching them to get back up!
When a child loses their balance and possibly stumbles and falls it also provides input for their brain that can help develop their balance reactions. Their body starts to recognize that when they start to lean too far forward with walking they will fall unless their muscles kick in to move their center of gravity back over their base of support. Just as if they fall backwards when first walking or standing their body starts to recognize this and react by using the muscles that will move their center of gravity forward over their base of support.
Going hand in hand with balance reactions is protective extension which begins to develop when your child first begins to sit and then stand. I will go into more depth on protective extension in another post.
So, as much as we don’t ever want our children to fall, sometimes it is a good thing for them, it is part of development. We get to figure out how to react to their falls as well as set up the scenarios where they can learn to fall safely!