How to set limits?

Ever since Ethan was born, Peter and I thought setting limits for him as he grew would be a no-brainer… We thought sports would be off limit, and that would be that.

We thought it would come naturally and easily… But boy were we wrong!

Ethan’s four, and it hasn’t come easy.

And while you may be thinking, “he’s only four!”… He IS four. And four year old’s like to speak their mind – and that includes things he is interested in, and things he wants to try.

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Ethan has expressed so much interest in athletics. He started with swimming when he was one and still LOVES it.

And by “loves it” I mean he’s a little fish!

He has reached the highest level he possibly can until he turns six. And even at the age of four, being “stuck” at that level is holding him back.

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When he became busier and more energetic (as a toddler), he started a gym class at the local gym, but has learned to love that too! Then we signed him up for soccer when he was three (how dangerous could it be, really?). Then in January Ethan started Tae Kwon Do. We figured once he started sparring, he would have to call it quits… But he’s still going strong! We talked openly with his instructor about his bleeding disorder, and we have discussed options as he gets older and there’s more contact involved. We’ll take it one belt at a time.

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He’s been asking, and asking, and ASKING to play ice hockey. But we’ve avoided it.

Every. Single. Time.

We know it really isn’t a good option, and that’s a hard lump to swallow. Peter grew up playing hockey… and still does play. Ethan knows that, and looks up to Peter on ice. We know Ethan’s “only four”, but he’s athletic. He’s interested in sports and usually does really well with them. If he were to play ice hockey, he may likely really enjoy it (he has enjoyed every other sport he’s tried so far). Heck, he may even excel at it. Unfortunately, this is something we may never know. Right now we’re told it’s too dangerous, and ultimately not worth the risk.

We’ve talked about options. We said that maybe next year when he’s old enough, he can try ball hockey to see how that goes. We don’t want to risk his safety and well-being, yet we don’t want to hold him back either. It’s so hard to find a happy medium. And no doubt it would be easier if he didn’t express an interest in sports.

But, for Ethan, that is not the case. He’s always going around with a mini-stick in his hands, kicking a soccer ball, or throwing a football or baseball.

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How do you limit your severe hemophiliac child… who is naturally athletic? Or do you let them set their own limits? Do we let him try things – with the risk of potentially injuring himself – so he can see/decide for himself what is ok for him?

It hasn’t been easy.

And we know as he gets older things will get harder. The struggles will be bigger, and he will argue and defend himself more. And rightfully so. I hope he does! But, how do we set limits without hurting him? Without making him feel incompetent? Our biggest goal for Ethan is to ensure he feels the same as everyone else.

But, how do we guarantee that?

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