Today I helped a three year old boy as he hammered nails into a piece of wood with an adult sized hammer. I started the nails and he pounded them in, using two hands on the handle and very effectively “hitting the nail on the head!”
He said: “Hey this is a real hammer. My dad has one like this.”
As I watched him manage this heavy tool I could actually sense him growing a little taller, with a feeling of pride in this accomplishment. I think this was also because I allowed him to do this under his own steam, letting go of the hammer and letting him try. (Of course we were both wearing safety goggles, and working at a table just outside the classroom with no other children around!)
It made me think of the value of trusting children to attempt difficult tasks, with the proper safety structures in place. When we, as people, take risks, we learn what we are capable of, and perhaps stretch to try new things.
When we were done with the three nails, my young friend was clearly tired but oh so pleased. And for me that was a high point of the day.