This is a story I often repeat to parents of my students about when my daughter had her first ice skating experience.
When my daughter was 6 years old, we went ice skating with a couple of friends. My daughter had never skated before, so I was a little nervous about how she'd take to it. We both laced up our skates, I took her by the hand and we both stepped onto the ice.
She started skating right away! A couple of times she started to lose her balance a little bit, but I was right by her side and helped her find her balance every time.
After a while I noticed something odd: she was no longer trying to keep her balance. That's when I realized I was doing exactly what I frequently advised parents not to do. I was catching her every time she lost her balance! I knew what I had to do.
Of course, I backed off. She fell a few times. She got right back up and skated. By the end of the day, she'd gotten her balance and had a nice rhythm in her skating stride. She was a skater!
It was a nice reminder how parents sometimes need to let their children fall. It's definitely not easy, but it's not in the child's best interest to constantly be there to catch them. Sometimes we have to let them fall.
How do we know when to step back and let them fall?