When Joseph was almost four, I learned a very valuable lesson via Disneyland. I took my just tall enough son on Splash Mountain. This ride, for those unfamiliar, that ends in a plummeting 53 foot drop into a "briar patch". It did not end well.
In my excitement to share my love of roller coasters, I'd forgotten that this was the little boy who pondered new slides on the playgrounds until he was content his odds of bodily harm were minimal.
After we got off the ride, he told me he'd never go on it again. While he's gone on other roller coasters and "big kid" rides at Disneyland, he's stayed true to his word and has never even been tempted to try Splash Mountain.
I learned that while it was good to push my cautious kid, I need to listen to him rather than push what I want. I need to give him time to decide if he wants to do something and not be impatient with his deliberate thinking process.
Elizabeth, on the other hand, is a thrill seeker. At the fair, she tries to convince the carnies she's tall enough to ride the Ring of Fire "with an adult." She rides coasters with her hands in the air and complete trust in the bar to hold her in. She is fearless.
With her, I've learned the opposite lesson. I've learned to preach caution, to help her realize she shouldn't always leap without looking, and that sometimes she should take a step back from a situation and look at the consequences. And I need to do it without tempering her fire too much.
Have you noticed similar differences in your children? How do you help your cautious child take a leap? How do you help your fearless child learn caution?