Word Worth®
                      World Magazine of Ideas and the Arts™ — ©Winter 2018 Volume XVIII,  Issue 1

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Action Impulsive

The floor outside my office was wet. On the first floor, they put down rugs but not on the second floor. It was quite slippery. I fell and broke my wrist. The floors should have been cleaned. Still, I don’t know of anyone else who fell. On another occasion, I fell again with no damage until a week or so later, when I  slipped a second time on unremovable ice on our driveway. I wasn’t able to bend my right knee for nearly a  year. Some years before, I was picking up my son at the optometrists’ office and made it across the parking lot to the cleared off walkway where I stamped my feet to get the snow off my boots. Trouble was, the walk had completely glazed over with invisible sheer ice. I fell very hard, and my knee was bad for quite some time. In all of those cases, anyone could have fallen, but anyone didn’t; I did. I haven’t had serious falls as much as once a year, but I’ve realized that I fall more than most people do.

When my son was an infant, he was determined to walk before he was ready. He had so many bruises that his father was afraid we’d be accused of battery at the one year check-up, and couldn’t help mentioning it to the pediatrician, who thought the worry was about hemophilia, which he quickly ruled out, and assured us that our son was very active in a healthy way. The doctor pointed out that there were no bruises where he wouldn’t expect to see them. They were all on his arms and legs; none on the trunk. 

And our son continued to be very active in a delightful way. Still, there were a number of emergency room visits: one when he sped his bicycle into a tree at age seven, one when he fell on level ground and broke his collarbone, one at school when he was leaning back in his chair which slid out from under him causing a concussion, another when he fell on his bike and had to have stitches in his head. Of course, there were non-emergency room incidents as well.

His son, before entering first grade, acquired three scars in his head, each requiring emergency room stitches.  As for anyone thinking that this is part of being a boy, his older brother, who is also “all boy”, has no stitches.

Both my son and my grandson have especially engaging, active and spontaneous personalities. Yet it is as though there is some inherited trait that is either missing or added—some spontaneity that leads to ignoring significant environmental details. It’s not the same as being “accident prone”; we get insurance deductions for safe driving.

Scolding and expressing anger don’t turn out well. It simply makes the person less able to handle emergencies because a sense of guilt is added to the crisis. Obviously, too much concern is equally bad, just making the person more worried when they’re hurt.

The best tactic for diminishing injury to  the Action Impulsive child is probably to calmly point out potential dangers: “You’re wearing socks which make those stairs slippery.” “Hang on to and stand on a branch that’s close to the trunk of the tree. That’s why there’s an expression, ‘Don’t go out on a limb’.” And all the things that pre-school teachers do all the time, showing kids how to hold scissors when they walk and how they must hold the railing when going up and down stairs. Taking extra time to note environmental surroundings to these exuberant children can enable them to see problems before coming into contact with them.

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