Why Does a Mother Giraffe Kick Its Newborn Baby
A parenting lesson on moving out of comfort zone
When a baby giraffe is born, it falls from high above- almost eight feet above the ground. The baby enters this world with a thud. As it lays there, all slimy and tired, unable to move any more, the mother bends down and licks the baby. Nudges the baby with her head to stand.
A few moments later she bends her long and powerful legs and kicks her baby hard.
Almost to the point of sending her flying in the air. It might look heartless, but the mother does it for a reason.
When a baby is born, tigers, lions, and other predators hunt for its tender meat. The sooner the baby learns to stand and run, the safer it is from this lurking danger. Hence, the mother kicks her baby so that it can save her.
The kick was pure love for her child. To push her out of the comfort zone.
Everyone loves being in their own comfort zone. Children are no different. The uncertainty involved, the prospect of being in unsavory situations, and fear of failing are big deterrents.
Parents, by default, are protective in nature. There is nothing to debate here. But the question is —
Is the real world an extension of our comfort zones? No.
So, what happens when we move from our comfort zones to the real world without being equipped to handle it? Anxiety, helplessness, incapability to handle situations- to name a few.
Hence, as parents and caretakers of our children, we are responsible for equipping them to face the real challenges when they venture out into the real world.
Why should you push them out of their comfort zone?
Think of the day your kid tried the big slide for the first time. There was a moment of hesitation before he held the ladder to climb. At that moment, he was debating whether to move out of his comfort zone. But after the thrill of sliding down, he would have run back to do it again.
Because he was much more confident now.
When kids are encouraged to make a move, they are more confident about things. The next time he would be more encouraged to try something new.
Dealing with failures
There cannot be a more uncomfortable place than being in the failure zone. But that is inevitable. Moving into new things, trying new things exposes children to various outcomes, and they are bound to fail in some. But these instances teaches them to take failure in their stride and understand that it is not a big deal.
It is better to fall now and have visible scars, than fall later and have deeper wounds that don’t show.
Emotionally stronger and independent
Life will hand out all sorts of lemons. Sweet, sour, stale, or fresh. Being able to make the lemonade is our job. We can’t wait for the freshest of the lemons to make our lemonade.
Rather than being a blanket for our kids and protecting them from all non-pleasant emotions, we are just making them dependent on us. Every time they stumble, they would turn back and look at us rather than try to move ahead.
As parents, we are responsible for teaching them to accept the nuances of life.
The inertia of today’s parents is to be accommodative. We tend to take great measures to listen to our children a lot. But that has a major drawback. It inhibits the ability to be flexible in them. Life is unpredictable, where flexibility is a virtue.
A perfectly scheduled day will only make a small change look humungous. Moving away from the usual path enables them to handle changes and work around them. Later on, a small challenge in life will not rattle them.
How to accomplish the feat
You might encounter or observe that changing the routines or urging them to try something new will not be a welcome change for them. But, with patience, that can be achieved.
After ensuring the child's safety, which is primary, a conscious effort can expose children to various situations.
Just because it is important doesn’t warrant great measures. It can be accomplished with small efforts. Asking a timid kid to give back the pencil to another kid and thank him is a small achievable step than lecturing him on smartness.
Sometimes, a shove works better than a push.
Introduce small changes in the routines or exposing them to mini-challenges and observe the reactions. Be reassuring in all these in a calm manner.
When a child finds himself beyond his cozy corner, encourage him to accept and work around it. If you are assured of his safety and well-being, refrain from solving it from him at the first instance.
A spillover of juice on her skirt is not a comfortable situation for Jean because she hates wet clothes. Parent, don’t go running for tissues. With a smile, communicate that it’s okay. And ask her what she should do. Encourage her to follow that. It might not resolve the issue, but trying is the main part. And remember to applaud her attempt.
Encouraging kids to try to resolve problems and refer to these incidents in the future sends the message that they can handle things.
Assuring of nonjudgements, if failed
Now the kid is out of the comfort zone and has been encouraged to deal with it. The next important aspect is to normalize him to accept the outcome, whatever it is.
Take off the pressure to succeed. Encourage the effort. ‘Try your best, don’t worry about the results’- should always be communicated.
Walk the talk
Something we conveniently forget to practice. Most of what children learn and imbibe is from their surroundings. So, it is essential to lean back and think- how do I react to changes. Let them be witnesses to these.
Talking to them about such circumstances at their level so that they understand that changes are parts of life and dealing with them is the best action.
A child once saw a butterfly coming out of its cocoon. It was struggling a lot to free itself. The child took pity and decided to help the butterfly. And so, it tore open the cocoon to set it free. But, instead of flying away, the butterfly fell to the ground.
Nature has its own set of rules. The ‘struggle’ was nothing but a strengthening exercise for the wings to enable the butterfly to fly. Things aren’t always what they appear to our eyes.
When our child is born into this world, we don’t need to kick them to protect them from wild predators. But the world is no less than a wild jungle. We have to ‘kick’ them sometimes to make them strong enough to survive in this world.