Fatherly Stuff: Playgrounds, Jungle Gyms and Disney Values of Courage

Jul 2, 2014

Playgrounds, Jungle Gyms and Disney Values of Courage

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.
As a parent, I think that it's important to be on the look out for ways to take the seemingly simple moments in life and turn them into important lessons. For instance, there was a time that such an opportunity presented itself and I was able to help my 5 year old learn about courage.

My son’s lesson in courage took place at the local playground. With the way that it’s set up; with its slides, swings and obstacles that start off basic, but gradually become more challenging as you move higher in a particular age group;, it is the perfect breeding ground for self-exploration and discovery. Up until this point my son has managed to conquer all of the equipment, with the exception of one. Far on the other side of the playground territory lies a jungle gym that is approximately 30 feet high and made almost entirely out of stretchy rope which interconnected into a pyramid-like structure. The first time that he tried to climb it, he grabbed hold of the bottom rope, looked up and froze with fear. Seeing how high it was along with noticing that the only kids that were climbing the jungle gym were a bit older intimidated him.

Usually, I try to make it a point to occasionally take a back seat and simply observe in order to allow my son the space that he needs to develop his independence, but this was a moment where I knew that I needed to step in. I came over, took him by the hand and listened while he told me why he was so afraid to climb the jungle gym. I smiled and let him know that it was perfectly normal to be afraid; But not allowing that fear to keep him from doing the things that you want to do? That’s the meaning of courage. I even invoked the memory of one of his favorite characters, Dusty Crophopper from Planes the Movie. My son has a special connection to Dusty because this was the first movie that he saw in a theater and he's been hooked ever since. In the first movie, Dusty is faced with a number of hurdles that stand in the way of his goal, including fear. However, he digs deep and finds the courage to win the race. Now that the sequel, Planes: Fire and Rescue is coming out really soon, it was the perfect time to remind my son of Dusty’s display of courage and it definitely seemed to motivate him.
All Planes: Fire and Rescue merchandise can be found at your local Walmart. My son was particularly fond of the bedding (shown in the first picture) and now he gets his daily dose of courage every night as he pulls his comforter over himself.

After we finished talking, he was determined to try again. As he hoisted himself on the first level, I shouted words of encouragement and coached him along the way as he climbed higher and higher.

It's #PlanestotheRescue!
Once he finally reached the top, he looked down and yelled, “Daddy look. I did it”. Seeing him up there feeling accomplished was one of my proudest moments as a father. He confronted his fear and did not let it deter him from reaching his goal. I can only hope that teachable moments such as these will continue throughout his life, so his character can develop even further.

Nowadays, there is a different tone at the jungle gym, fear and apprehension has been replaced with confidence and excitement as he attacks the obstacle with the agility of a spider monkey. He has even gotten me into the act by challenging me to climb alongside him. I do my best to keep up, but I don’t want to get myself stuck, or else I’ll have to get Dusty to come to my rescue!

And it's all thanks to his good buddy, Dusty Crophopper !


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