It’s August 2012, and right now I am up in the midlands of the UK, working with – basically I help take the slacklining experience to kids of all ages, all over the place. And here are some of the things I have noticed:

  • Fear as conceptual
    It seems to be that a child’s concept of fear determines their actions. If a child has a preconceived belief that the slackline is scary, then they act accordingly. If it’s a new toy to play on, then they play. At even younger ages (4-7) it seems that primal factors such as height, are also subjected to being coneptualised as either scary or fun. There is no evidence to suggest that putting every child on a higher slackline will yield a result where they are all as scared as each other. Some of the kids shit themselves. Some of them love it.
  • Fear is learned
    We all know that when we have a scary experience, it’s very possible that we will be scared afterwards of that same thing happening again. But what is often under looked, yet I see so often when kids are out slacklining with us and their families in the parks, is that Fear is a learned concept. I.e. A child’s parents’ fears very often translate to becoming the childs.
    There’s nothing more I love than to push a kid who’s parents are cramping her style. I can see if a kid has got slacklining ability or not. Very often their parents can’t tell. Instead, they will project their fears of their little one stacking it on their face, and when that becomes a regular stimulus for the child, she takes it on board and those fears, sadly, become her own.
    This works both ways. Parents that encourage and push their children (with calibration) in a positive way usually have kids who are up for trying the slackline and who smile whilst doing so.
    What does this say to you about the way you frame information to kids? There’s a lot to be looked at when it comes to saying ‘Don’t fall off and hurt yourself!’ versus ‘Look straight ahead and breathe!’.
  • Kinaesthetic Awareness and Play
    I get all kinds of kids coming on sessions when it comes to kinaesthetic, or ‘feeling’ ability. Some kids understand their bodies and how they move more naturally than others. That’s normal; as humans we all learn in different ways, some visual, some via audio signals and some by feel. What I have seen, however, is that kids are more likely to approach a new situation playfully and with confidence in themselves, if they have a decent level of kinaesthetic awareness. Up to a certain age, most kids will go into a new situation playfully, but not always with confidence. The ‘clumsier’ kids come to mind, ones who want to join in and play physically, but are not able to keep up because they don’t know they bodies as well as the others.
    I believe slacklining offers kids a chance to enhance their kinaesthetic awareness, thus transferring that into everyday life and new situations so they can be approached and enjoyed with a playful attitude andconfidence.I look forward to sharing more observations with you as they come, in the future.

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