Dealing with a fear of nature

We live in fearful times. Terrorists. Amber alerts. West nile. Lyme disease. And the latest and greatest, killer amoeba.

I’d started writing this post before the latest headlines took over the news with a small boy being the third person this year to die from this amoeba. It is understandable to be afraid of this type of thing. Very few people, on average three each year, die from the creature. 5 people can swim together and only one will be affected. Once affected, there is no cure. That’s scary. How do you prepare for that?

The answer is you don’t. You can’t. And that’s the scary part.

I mean, if every time we go into warm water this little critter will attack then we can deal with that. We avoid warm water. It’s that simple. If there was a treatment then as soon as we suspected the attack we’d go for the cure and we ask for treatment even if we weren’t sure that we were infected just to be safe. But none of those options are available. When it is hotter than all get out, as it has been this summer, then we are going to go into the water. It’s a matter of mental survival. We need to cool off and we need to play. But when we do, we are afraid. Some people will just avoid these natural places and the fun that goes with them because they aren’t willing to become part of the microscopic statistic.

Many of us will also avoid going into the woods to avoid Lyme disease, or outside for fear of West Nile, or climbing trees for fear of a broken arm or leg. We want to be safe. We especially want our kids to be safe.

We think that by protecting them from tragedy we are helping them grow and become strong.

The research is against us. Study after study show that children who are too protected grow up with a lower belief in their abilities to solve problems and do things on their own.

Think back on the things that you did that made you feel proud of yourself. Think of all the problems that you solved on your own. Do you remember the day that you were allowed to cross the street on your own? What about walking to school on your own? How about the day that you rode your bike to the corner store for some candy and a soda? Or finding your way back to the camp site after you were allowed to go for walk in the woods on your own? Was there ever a time when things didn’t go quite according to plan and you had to work your way out of it? I am guessing that because you are reading this you were successful.

How did that make you feel? I know that, as scared as I was when I got on the wrong school bus home one day, I was proud that I found my own way home. I never said a word to my parents but I learned to trust my instincts to find my way home.

If you haven’t already, watch the video above. What do you notice?

First there are no parent eagles anywhere to be seen. We know they’re there and if something threatens the eaglets the parents will be all over the threat. But they aren’t interfering with the eaglets wing practice.

What else do you notice? The eaglets bounce back and forth from branch to branch getting a little farther from the nest with each attempt. This is just over 6 minutes of tape but eaglets will practice for a few weeks before they take that first flight. Each wing flap, each trial flight from branch to branch builds strength and confidence. Finally, the eagle takes flight.

We all want to feel safe and in control. The best way to do that is take well calculated risks so that we stretch our wings and build their strength before we leave the nest.

Benefits of risky play in childhood.

http://www.freeplaynetwork.org.uk/adventure/manage.htm

http://www.stichtingoase.nl/literatuur/doc/doc_73.pdfhttp://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2008/aug/03/schools.children

http://www.earlychildhoodaustralia.org.au/australian_journal_of_early_childhood/ajec_index_abstracts/outdoor_play_does_avoiding_the_risks_reduce_t  he_benefits.html

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