Why I Congratulate My Kid When He Falls...

Photo Source:  Denafi Sy

Photo Source: Denafi Sy

Baby G climbed fell out of his crib, for the first time, this morning. We heard a big THUMP and then came the slow crescendo of his high-pitched-wail.

This wasn’t his first fall. Our neighbor “blessed” us with an omen before Baby G was born. He said, “Your son will fall on his head in the first year, I guarantee it. It happens to everyone”. Of course, we thought, “Not us”, and OF COURSE, when Baby G was about 5 months, he decided he wanted to do a full tummy roll and rolled off the bed. Our stomachs dropped, we felt like evil, awful, horrendous humans. And that CRY… the high-pitched-wail… It still resides in an annex in my head.

Here’s the thing though. Throughout Baby G’s (almost) 21 months, there have only been 4 falls that have generated that high-pitched-wail. The other 99% of falls have not been like that.

This article is about those 99% of falls. The regular, expected, everyday falls (Please know that I would never congratulate my baby, or any baby, for falling out of a crib).

When Baby G falls, we usually start to clap and say, “Awesome Fall!”, “Wow, that was an amazing fall!”, or “I’m so proud of you for controlling that fall… It will happen so many more times in your life…” And 99% of the time, Baby G gets up and claps for himself when he falls. He gets this funny look of pride on his face.

Admittedly, the three of us often get strange looks… like at the indoor kid gym or my friend’s backyard bbq party… It goes something like: Baby G falls. We are now in slow-motion. Everyone goes quiet and adults look to his parents. We start clapping and hooray-ing. Adults in our vicinity look confused (horrified? shocked?). Baby G starts clapping and laughing. Slow-motion stops and we are hugging Baby G and confusion still remains on peoples’ faces.

I have to thank my former employer, My Gym, for teaching me this “fall trick” (FYI: This is not sponsored). Many, many, many moons ago I was a teacher there (so not surprising, right?) and we were instructed to ‘congratulate falls’ in our classes. We were at a kids gym after all - falls were inevitable. We were told that the kids/babies would immediately look to us after a fall, would react to our cues and most falls were innocuous.

So I fully tested the theory in 2004. While living with my older sister and brother-in-law, we employed the “fall trick” on my nephew, Amir. After congratulating and applauding his falls, we all noticed a change in his affect after falls. He became more confident.

Interestingly (strangely?), Baby G’s current favorite pastime is sitting on his chair, tipping over, touching his head to say “ouch”, laughing hysterically. Repeat x100. I’m hoping we haven’t taken this too far… I’m still new to this whole parenting thing...

Is this totally out of line? How do you treat kid falls?