Is There a Difference Between Fearlessness and Confidence?
Our second day of camp at TimberNook Orlando was just wonderful. First, we read the book, “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” before making maps of the forest that we used while looking for a bear!
Maybe we saw one, and maybe we didn’t… what I do know, is that there was a lot of running, happy yelling, and some exciting times crawling through the mud. Some of us went “fishing,” some of us went splashing, and some of us just jumped right in and got REALLY muddy. It was awesome!
This book was so great for our age group of mostly 4 – 7 year olds. It was short and repetitive, with lots of onomatopoeia. The book was the perfect length for their attention spans and it was easy for the kids to imagine the book as they played.
As you read through the rest of today’s recap, keep the words “fearless” and “confident” in mind. There’s an important difference, and we saw it play out today.
Whole Body Play
This book was so great for facilitating total, whole body play.
We waded through the long grass on our bear hunt, even going through a “snowstorm” (well, cotton balls draped on the tree branches). The kids would get to a cave where they had to bend over and tip-toe around. Different senses were employed as they touched things, saw things, smelled things, and heard things, and each activity naturally led into different play experiences.
Lines like, “We’re goin’ on a bear hunt. We’re going to catch a big one. I’m not scared!” had everyone laughing and running around. They quickly become more comfortable with the idea of being uncomfortable. For example, when they found a rope, they’d quickly transition into play.
Running through the woods, in the mud, and everywhere else involves a fair bit of problem solving. When we got to the mud pit everyone ran over to take a look. As we quickly realized: can’t go over, can’t go under… what do we do?
One child responded, “Gotta go through!” Then, we worked our way through the mud while making splishy splashy noises. We got a bit of problem solving practice, and it was also an incredibly robust sensory experience.
Proprioceptive and Vestibular Movement
In our Day 1 recap, we ended with an intro to our balance system. That system is also known as the vestibular system, and today’s campers got to practice those skills. These skills are important because our vestibular system gives our bodies input about our movement and orientation in space. Much of our balance as adults feels like second nature, but we all had to develop these skills when we were younger.
Running through the woods on uneven terrain tests balance, as does climbing, playing tug-of-war, jumping, and so many other activities.
Here’s a concise summary about our proprioceptive system and what it does:
Proprioception (from Latin proprius, meaning “one’s own” and perception) is the sense of the position of parts of the body, relative to other neighbouring parts of the body. Unlike the six exteroception human senses of sight, taste, smell, touch, hearing, and balance, that advise us of the outside world, proprioception is a sense that provides feedback solely on the status of the body internally. It is the sense that indicates whether or not your body is moving with required effort, as well as where the various parts of the body are located in relation to each other.
Things like muscle memory and hand eye coordination stem from a well-developed proprioceptive system. Touching your finger to your nose is another example of the proprioceptive system at work.
TimberNook campers use both their vestibular and proprioceptive systems as they played in nature: climbing over things, walking on uneven terrain, drawing their maps of the forest, and all of the other things we did during Day 2.
Trust and Confidence
The children developed trust in each other and confidence in themselves, and it was so cool to watch this play out.
One success happened when one of our campers accepted the initial opportunity to go off to explore her surroundings and to play. Soon enough, the other children followed and everyone had a great time. They saw that exploring nature was fun, and it was a great example of how children learn from others. In a way, we even use a similar idea at Doglando with our teaching dogs — these amazing older dogs show the puppies how to interact with the world.
Back to Fearlessness vs. Confidence
Now, let’s revisit the ideas of fearlessness and confidence as we’ve seen so far in TimberNook. You might even notice that we’re revisiting some of the same themes from Day 1, especially in terms of gaining independence and exploring new things.
Often, a child immediately says things like, “I can’t do this” or, “I’m not supposed to do this.”
Whether it’s playing in the mud, exploring the woods, running around, or something else, there’s a quick self-imposition. And self-imposed limitations are just that: limitations that we place on ourselves. However, our children are also hearing all of this from somewhere. Biologically, kids want and need to play. It’s how they figure out the world around them.
Many times, the way we present the world to our children becomes limiting and disabling, and we don’t even know it. It’s extremely challenging to build that up, or empower, that lack of confidence.
We use the term “empowering” all the time at Doglando, and have acquired so much of this knowledge through direct experience (I’ll continue to say it — dogs and children are, surprisingly, similar in a lot of ways). The reason you have certain behaviors, like fear or uncertainty or anything else, is because you facilitate that behavior in some way or another.
These are the challenges that we deal with every day, but you absolutely can build up and empower your child.
Confidence and fearlessness are not synonymous. When a child, dog, or any other living being doesn’t navigate the world based on fear, that breeds confidence.
When our children and dogs know their own strengths, weaknesses, and abilities, and have overcome self-imposed limitations and limitations imposed by others, they gain knowledge to help them exist confidently in the world. It’s part of living an enriched life.
Thankfully, play has the power to make all of that happen.
What are some ways you could “build up” or empower, your dog or child? What type of new experiences could you offer them to problem solve, test their strength, or any other skill? Brainstorm together in the comments – we can come up with so many awesome ideas together.