Fear and Learning

Aidan is spending lots of time in the water.  A few weeks ago, we were swimming at Beaver Lake in Ware, Massachusetts and were out on a dock.  I have expected for sometime that he would be close to jumping in the water by himself.  Up to this point, I hold both his hands and swing him into the water.  We do this at the Conway Pool (really a pond) where I can stand and he is up higher on a dock.  At Beaver Lake, he was afraid to jump right in from the (level to the water) dock.

I thought of tossing him in because I thought there was a good chance he would really like it and that it would help him to jump in by himself.  However, when I suggested it, he got upset and made it clear that he did NOT want me to do that.  But gently lowering him into the water and holding onto him until he was fully “in” was not moving him forward in his water play.  After considering throwing him anyway for a while, I thought, “Is there something in between?”  So I suggested lifting him and dropping him into the water from low to higher distance.  After and initial resistance, I dropped him in and he loved it and asked for more.  “I want to do that again, Dad.”  That’s one of his favorite expressions associated with learning and play along with, “Watch me!”

Well, I dropped him from different heights trying to push the height as much as I could.  We had very fun time.  He was still not ready to jump in though.

Yesterday, before we went to his grandfather’s pool, I suggested that he might be ready to jump in all by himself today. Sure enough, he was ready this week.  He was very proud of himself and even jumped in the deep end.  I will have to get some video of this.  The whole thing reminded me of Vigotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development, which suggests that kids always have an zone of where they can go next in their learning and that it is best to push it but not too much.

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