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Falling Well

Updated: Jan 31, 2020

Featured on the Hong Kong Economic Journal (September 14, 2017)

"Just last week, I was on holiday with my husband and 14-month son and we were staying at a hotel. As soon as my curious son entered the room, he started exploring and looking to see all the new and wonderful things he could discover. He started looking out the window to look at boats, looking at the books on the coffee table and then finding all the knobs he could turn and buttons he could press. And then he started exploring the bathroom area. The whole room is well carpeted but the bathroom was hard, marble floor with a small step up. So as my son was toddling along, his foot got caught in the little step and then he ended up falling on the marble floor. It sounds like a mother’s nightmare but my son fell forward with his arms extended out, he softened his fall and ended up being totally fine. He promptly proceeded to get back to his feet and continued toddling along.

What I then realized was that I was worried about him falling and hurting himself but I didn’t have to worry because he knew how to fall well. He knew how to break his fall and also knew how to get back up again.

As parents, we are instinctively protective and many times, we want to avoid the fall. Of course we want to keep our children safe but ultimately, they will fall and what we need to do is not so much prevent the fall but to teach them how to fall. And this applies literally in physical falling to figuratively in ‘falling’ or ‘failing’ in different areas in our lives.

I once met a mother of an eleven year old daughter. She was sharing with me how stressed she is because she needs to sit next to her daughter every day to watch her do homework, correct her homework and also study for exams with her. I asked her why she had to do that and she said “she can’t do it without me. If she doesn’t do well this year, she can’t catch up next year.” And the thing is, I’ve met parents of kindergarteners who have said the same thing. They are protecting them from a fall. But my fear is that when they reach a stage in life when they are on their own and they end up falling, they won