Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Coming Out of Our Comfort Zones

Mad Scientist has inherited a new bed. He’s been in his crib up until this point. Although he could climb out of the crib, he only did so in the mornings and after nap time. This, and the reassurances of a few friends that their same-age toddler transitioned no-sweat, gave me hope that learning to sleep in a big boy bed would be a piece of cake.

Scientist was excited for his new bed, right up until it was time to sleep in it, that is. He’d sit in the bed for story time and songs, and then we’d kiss him good night and he’d ask to be in the crib. After a few days, he’d go to sleep in the bed, but come morning he would be in the crib. After about a week of this, he’s about 50% for staying in the bed all night. And I begin to wonder.

Why is this transition so hard? Is learning to sleep in a bed so much more difficult or different than sleeping in a crib? In my adult mind, the answer is obviously no. But what about in the mind of Scientist? Maybe in his mind, he sees the new bed as a big unknown. Unknowns—whether they be fractions, speaking in public for the first time, starting up a conversation with a stranger on an airplane, learning to play the piano, or sleeping in a big boy bed— are intimidating, simply because they are unknown. We get excited about the idea of a new thing, but putting it to practice can be a little scary. We have to come out of our comfort zones in order to learn, but we tend not to like coming out.

What I am learning from this experience is that you can’t force someone out of their comfort zone, at least not if you want positive results. But I do think we can provide opportunities for our kids to come out, and then give them the time they need to decide to do it on their own. If we want to be involved in lifelong learning, I think we also need to get comfortable coming out of our comfort zones. The only way to do that is to practice. We can help our kids (and ourselves) practice by creating an environment where they feel safe. Scientist knows that he’s not going to have any negative consequences if I come in in the morning and he’s slept in his crib that night. That will give him the confidence he needs to test out the bed, because he knows if he tries it and isn’t comfortable with it, he can always go back to where he is comfortable. By practicing coming out of our comfort zones and having positive experiences with it, we will build the confidence we need to come out in situations where the “risks” may be a little greater.

No comments:

Post a Comment