The Upside of Falling Down

Jun 19, 2023


Why falling down isn't as bad as you think it will be-

Today my family went on a 6 mile bike ride. That might not sound like a lot, but for my 5 year old on his little bike, it's a lot of work.

At end of the canyon trail we took there is a bike park. A mini mountain bike experience with a couple different ranges of levels to choose from. 

My 5 year old (JJ) saw his older siblings doing it and true to his adventurous spirit thought, "well if they can do it, so can I!"

In all fairness I knew that this trail was probably at the edge of what he could handle. Don't get me wrong, for a 5 year old, he is VERY capable, but he's still only 5. 

I'm not stupid or reckless, helmets are the rule and even JJ (at 5 years old) is VERY aware of watching for cars and being safe. But I've never been one to hold my kids back from pushing themselves. Who am I to stop them from trying things that have the potential to be freeing, thrilling and empowering? 

I think some parents think it's their job to protect them from everything bad in the world. Obviously that's part of it, but I think it's more important to prepare them for the bumps and hazards and show them how to get back up when they fall down. (fyi- it's better to tuck and roll rather than superman it, which is learned skill I might add)

I believe you do that best (prepare them rather than shelter) by giving them opportunities to test themselves, a training ground to learn and grow where the consequences are real, but not near as hazardous as the "real world."

But back to JJ.

We stuck to the beginner level path and it was a little slow going, but he handled it really well. He did loose control once, but basically jumped off his bike, grabbed it out of the weeds and got right back at it without a second thought.

After a quick break and snacks, with his confidence pretty high, he asked if he could try the "pump hills" again since those were pretty exciting and a lot of fun.

First hill, no problem, second hill, piece of cake. But the third hill?

It's a little steeper and had a little rocky patch at the top that made it kind of bumpy. 

Sure enough on his way down he caught his front tire on edge of a rock and went head first over his handle bars into the dirt and weeds. (he rolled only twice though;)

Well, the tears came and I was right behind him to pick him up. (parenting 101 tip- don't freak out. kids take their cue's from you, so if it's Not a freak out on your part, a lot of the time it won't be a freak out for them either.)

I brushed him off and checked him over and was a little surprised that with such a cool looking wipe out, he actually didn't have more than a couple small scrapes on his elbow. 

After about a minute he'd calmed down and I simply asked him if he wanted to go back or finish doing the rest of the pump hills. 

Do you know what he chose?


I want to emphasize that I was not actively or subtly trying to push him to finish. But given the opportunity to call it done or get back on that horse, he chose to saddle back up!

As he got back on his bike and finished the course I admit to being a little bit proud of the little dude for having the grit to stick it out. 

He didn't want to go right back up the hill and repeat it the moment we finished, but I could also tell that he wasn't afraid, and it wouldn't go down in history as even a bad memory or experience. 


I want to be more like that...

Life. Sometimes it bucks us off. Sometimes we get scrapped and bruised. But in that moment, we have a choice. We can let it make us fearful of falling and failing and getting hurt, or it can give us experience, help us recognize we can do hard things, and make us realize that while sometimes painful, the falls aren't really THAT terrible!  

And I do think it's a choice. Have you ever heard of PTG (Post Traumatic Growth) We're entitled to feel how we feel and to process life in different ways. But after it's all said and done, and we've had time to rest, and heal, and process things, ultimately I believe it's a choice.

We can worry and choose to fixate on all that might go wrong, or that one time we biffed it pretty good in front of all our friends.


We can anticipate the thrills and the beauty and possibilities of the ride!

And When we fall (because if you're trying, if your pushing yourself, you will be at the edge of where you're comfortable/capable) it'll all be all right.

It's just part of the process.

And even if it hurts a little in the moment, the ride and view is always worth it. 

Besides, chicks dig scars anyway. ;)


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