At church this past week I watched a young infant girl (about 9 months) tip over while sitting on the floor. Her head hit the carpet, not hard, and she looked around from her new vantage point. After about 15 seconds her father put his hand on her back and asked her if she was all right as he started to help her to sit up again. She immediately started to cry. He picked her up. She stopped crying, took a deep breath, looked around again to see if she had an audience, and then started to cry again.
Lets look at what was learned.
1. I tipped over, quick self check, I am okay, wow things look different from down here, look at that man smiling at me, how to I get up, where is my dad.
2. Dad is saying something to me but I don't know what. I must be in some kind of trouble or difficulty, maybe I should cry.
3. Dad picked me up, I can get more attention if I keep crying, better stop to see if he is still looking at me.
4. Yup, I have his attention. Now watch this .....
When young children do something where there is a possibility of getting hurt parents and teachers should consider that the action has already happened. Rushing over or hugging and attention will not stop the falling. Therefore the attention should now be to help the child figure out what is wrong and if there is something that is really hurt and needs attention.
Consider this scenario.
Same child tips over and is laying down on the floor. Dad watches the child to see how she reacts. Dad moves over nearby and talks to the child. "You are doing fine, push yourself up. Wow, good job."
The child continues to survey the scene, realizes she is fine and works to make herself more comfortable.
Children take cues from adults on how badly they are hurt. In 9/10 times the adult makes more of the situation than is needed and therefore sets the child up for future expectations and learning of what they need to do to get the attention.