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The Stages Of Becoming Grasp
Emotional Development
12 April 2024

The Stages of Becoming: The Second Step, Grasp

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The second step is a challenging one where our learning slows and can become frustrating, but that we learn crucial knowledge about ourselves and build up necessary resilience.


Explore the challenging yet crucial Grasp Stage of learning in our latest instalment of “The Stages of Becoming” series. This article dives into the frustrations and triumphs children face as they connect basic skills to tackle more advanced tasks, with practical advice for parents to support their journey.

  • Discusses the Grasp Stage, where learners face challenges integrating basic skills into complex tasks.
  • Introduces “resets” like advancing levels to reignite engagement.
  • Highlights common frustrations and potential disengagement among learners during this phase.
  • Offers strategies for parents to address disengagement and celebrate successes, promoting persistence and mastery.

The Stages of Becoming: The Second Step, Grasp

This article is going to help us learn about the second stage of learning, known as the Grasp Stage.

In the first stage, we have a lot of early engagement due to the novelty and newness of the skills, and also have large and frequent improvements, often leading to high enjoyment!

While later stages will begin to explore what it’s like as we start to master our skills, first we have to navigate the challenging and sometimes frustrating Grasp stage. This is where persistence is required, and many families and Risky Kids might struggle as it can be difficult.

However it’s critical to navigate, and as always the process of working our way through it is its own reward, as we learn the resilience we’ll need later, and also begin to master our skills.

The “Reset”

One thing to think about while your young person is learning is that often there’s little “resets” along the way. 

  • Learning involves periodic “resets” like advancing a belt in Karate,.
  • Skills are blended, involving strategy, teamwork, and individual mastery,
  • Progression can temporarily boost engagement, mimicking early learning excitement,

For example, in Karate your kid might go up a belt, or in Gymnastics they might join a new skill level. Risky Kids has program steps, Foundation, Alpha, Alpha+ and so on. Each of these has sort of a Novelty reset.

Learning is often blended. We’re not just learning the skill in its entirety, but dozens, sometimes hundreds of smaller skills and mastering different parts of that skill. For example, Soccer isn’t just about ball skills. It’s about strategy, team mechanics, personalities, training drills and much more.

You’re likely to see engagement “reset” when a young learner moves up a level, and even the re-emergence of Novelty stage behaviour, however they’ll quickly settle back into the overall pattern of their learning.

How The Grasp Stage Feels

This stage can be quite a challenging one. 

  • Learning shifts from mastering basics to integrating skills for advanced tasks.
  • Progress slows, mistakes increase as skills are applied in complex ways.
  • Feedback feels frustrating when causes of mistakes aren’t yet clear.

What we’re going through is that we’ve often learned a lot of the basics and fundamental skills, and now we’re trying to connect them all together to be able to accomplish more advanced and challenging tasks. However, we’re doing this when we don’t have a lot of experience or knowledge on how to solve the problem we’re likely to face.

For this reason, our learning, which was happening in big, quick strides, will slow down considerably. We start to make more mistakes, and we even start messing up the basic skills! This is because we haven’t really mastered them yet, and as we try and use them in more sophisticated ways, we lose focus on keeping their standard up.

Even as we’re being offered feedback and guidance, we can feel frustrated. Even with great support, we can still feel a bit lost on how to apply it, and as we’re making mistakes it’s almost impossible for us to understand what’s causing them yet. All of this means that even the smallest failures are magnified.

The Good Stuff

The Grasp stage is going to often feel like the lowest point of learning. 

  • Grasp stage often feels like the lowest, most frustrating point of learning.
  • Frequent encounters with this stage build resilience and understanding of failure.
  • Risky Kids teaches appreciation of this stage as essential to mastering skills.

It’s frustrating and not filled with a lot of big moments of triumph. But this makes it critical for learners, because no matter what they’re learning, they’re going to have to go through this step.

What that means is that the more often we come face to face with this step while learning, the more resilient we become. Not only does our learner work their way through this particular instance of learning, but they’ll also be able to understand how they deal with frustration, failure and this slowed learning.

This is a translatable skill, and one that’s an important part of our teaching process at Risky Kids. We specifically help young people to understand and expect this challenge, and teach them also to relish it as a sign that they’ve started the journey toward mastery! Sadly, this is a stage that many families will misunderstand, and unenroll.

Grasp Stage

The Challenges

People, but young learners especially, aren’t usually well equipped to face all of these challenges without the right tools and experience.

  • Young learners often struggle without proper guidance; difficulty may deter persistence.
  • Receiving feedback conflicts with early successes, challenging self-perception.
  • High dropout rates during tough stages; proactive family engagement crucial for continuation.

We can often feel that because it’s so difficult, that we’re simply not meant to learn this skill. At most, we just don’t like the way it feels and for that reason we want those negative feelings to stop.

It’s also difficult for learners at this stage when it comes to receiving feedback. Not just because it can be difficult to apply, but because this now comes into conflict with their self perception that they were doing well because of all of the early wins!

Families are 187% more likely to unenroll from a program during these stages than if they persist through. We often confuse the fact that young people are frustrated and even disengaged with the fact that this must not be “for them”, or that those feelings aren’t important.

They’re crucial though, and normal to experience, as part of this learning process. For this reason, we ask all families to approach us each time their Risky Kid struggles with motivation and engagement. We perform a review of what stages they’re likely to be in, pair it with all of our team’s observations and observations from home and create a strategy to decide with the family and Risky Kid what the best next steps are.

Sometimes that DOES turn out to be unenrolment, but in most cases, it’s addressing issues of self confidence or frustrations.

Easy To Learn, Hard To Master

Sam At The Grasp Stage

Sam has now progressed through a few Program Steps. They might be at the Alpha+ step, or even have made it into Delta. However as they’ve reached these steps, they’ve actually mastered a lot of the fundamental Moves. They also understand how the Risky Kids Mindsets all work and what it means to be a part of the community.

However as Sam tries to excel and succeed, there’s a lot of frustration and barriers. They try to learn how to perform a few of the advanced Moves, and also combine Moves together like their Coaches and other advanced students do, but instead messes up the basic Moves they thought they had mastered. This frustrates them, and they’re frustrated about being frustrated because they thought that the Mindsets they’d learned would help with all of this!

Sam also feels like they’ve learned what it means to be part of the community, but isn’t really sure what to do with that knowledge. It could be that when Sam is in classes, sometimes they hang back because they don’t want to make these mistakes or fail at the moves. When others are pushing themselves hard, Sam might hold back just enough that the classes stop being challenging.

As a result, it’s highly likely that Sam might tell their parents “I’m bored”, “I don’t like it any more” or “I’d like to try something new”. Their family might want to swoop in and help Sam, but before they do that they work with their Risky Kids team. Together they create a plan and Sam undergoes some Mentoring sessions with the Coaches.

They motivate Sam to push hard again in sessions, and understand that by pushing through this stage, there’s going to be some awesome feelings and successes soon. Sam starts to see progress again in just a few sessions, and feels challenged AND in control. The family continues on to the next steps!

What Families Should Expect

Working through the Grasp stage can be challenging. Make sure you involve everyone, from your Risky Kid to your Risky Kids Team / Coaches / Teachers to help.

When your Risky Kid is going through the Grasp Stage, the most common behaviours you’re likely to see will be:

  • Frustration with slowed learning,
  • Drops in enjoyment, enthusiasm and/or engagement,
  • Attraction to other hobbies or sports to recapture the “novelty” feel,
  • Magnified emotions around failure or perceived failure,
  • Language such as “I’m bored”, “I don’t want to go”, etc.

In the case of your Risky Kids learning going well at this stage, make sure to celebrate it with them! If they do disengage, which is very common at these steps, make sure to validate how they feel, but not their desire to quit.

Families should be prepared to emphasise persistence and strategies to work through low motivation, like goal setting, asking for help from coaches, exploring the root of emotions and of course it’s important that families are prepared to feel some tough feelings themselves as their Risky Kids struggle.

Statements like “You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to” should be replaced with “What do you think has changed and who can we ask for help?”. For more advice on navigating disengagement, check out our articles on The Art Of Quitting! Most importantly, work with your Risky Kids team if you see early signs of disengagement.

What’s Next

Our next Stage Of Becoming is where we start to build some momentum and really develop some impressive skills. However we’re also going to come face to face with a big barrier, which is vulnerability!

Our learners are going to begin to unlock their skills, but also to encounter plateaus which they might confuse with reaching the limit of their skills. It’s an exciting time with the next steps though as we get closer to mastery!

Richard Williams

Richard Williams

Risky Kids Founder, Director of Programming

Richard Williams is a fitness industry consultant, gym owner, business coach and professional stunt actor with more than a decade of experience in the health and fitness industry. With an education in psychology and criminology, Richard blended life experience as a fitness industry consultant with Spartan Race, gym owner, elite-obstacle racer, ultra-runner and professional stunt actor to create the Risky Kids program.

Richard has a passion for enacting meaningful social change through all avenues of health and wellbeing and believes that obstacles are the way. Some of Richard’s key achievements include:

  • Key consultant/coordinator Spartan Race/Tough Mudder/Extreme Endurance
  • OCR World Championship Finalist –  Team & Solo (2015)
  • OCR World Championship Silver Medallist – Team Endurance (2018)
  • Professional film and television stunt performer for 15 years

Considered one of Australia’s foremost experts in the fields of fitness, wellbeing and behavioural science, Richard is frequently in demand as a guest speaker for relevant government and non-
government bodies and organisations. Speaking engagements centred on the success of the Risky Kids program, philosophy and approach have included:

  • Expert speaker/panellist Sports & Camp; Recreation Victoria and Outdoors Victoria forums
  • Closing expert speaker at the Australian Camps Association National Conference
  • Expert speaker at the National Fitness Expo, FILEX