Learning From Wildlife
By: Christine Hersom
(3 min read)
I was recently on vacation in Indian Rocks Beach, Florida. My favorite activity on this vacation was watching the natural wildlife around me. I would sit on the beach and watch the little birds looking for food at the edge of the surf. The larger adult birds were flying and gliding on the breeze. It is fascinating to watch birds flying.
On our second day of vacation, it was rather breezy on the beach. The adult birds were trying to show the young birds how to fly with the wind instead of against it. They would run with the wind flapping their wings, and take off. They would then circle back around and glide with the wind. Using their wings sometimes to raise higher in the air. It was fascinating to watch.
The young birds, like young children, were much too busy to watch what they should do. They would jump and head right into the wind. The wind would allow it for a minute and then would bump them around back and forth. Eventually, the little birds would tire from fighting against the wind. They would come sailing to the ground rather awkwardly. It was fascinating. The adult birds would show them again. Again, the little birds would do the opposite.
As I sat there, I thought to myself, “This is just like raising children.” Our children struggle with wanting to do it their way. Generations have tried to let the next generation learn from our mistakes. It seems to be impossible. We all want to do it our way and learn from our mistakes. It appears to be a rite of passage in the animal kingdom too.
As the day went on, the little birds started to follow the adult birds. Once they realized they needed the wind to work with them, flying and gliding became much easier. By the end of the day, the little birds that I had been watching were working together with the wind.
I sat there and wondered if it could be that easy with children. Instead of telling them what they should do, showing them would be better. Let children keep trying to do things their way. They will soon realize that working with nature instead of against it would be so much easier.
Throughout the entire day, the adult birds weren’t that vocal. They would give a little squawk until they had the little bird’s attention, and then they would show them what to do. This went on all day. The adult birds never seemed to criticize the young ones. They just kept showing them the correct way and then would let them decide what they were going to do.
I have thought a lot about that day. Working with young children, I find myself telling them the correct or easiest way to do things. Yet, when they ask why my only answer is because that is how it is done. That is the easiest way or the safest way. What if we showed children how we do something and then let them try different ways to do things? They could end up doing it the way that we do, or they could find a better way. Why do we correct the way they do things because it is different than how we would do it?
The adult birds didn’t seem to criticize at all. They just kept letting the little birds get tossed around by the wind, knocked to the ground, fall in the water…
When the little birds had enough battering, they seemed to watch the adults and soared with the wind. Like I said earlier, the little birds were gliding on the wind by the end of the day.
I want to try this with my littles. Granted, I will have to keep safety in mind, but I will let them try things their way first. When my day on the beach ended, no little birds had been hurt by ignoring how to do things. They were tired, but in the end, they learned how to glide with the wind.
After my day at the beach, I believe we could learn some things from the animal kingdom.
Christine Marshall Hersom
All Things Wellness, LLC
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