All the kids kept trying to grab for the gold ring, and so was old Phoebe, and I was sort of afraid she’d fall off the goddam horse, but I didn’t say anything or do anything. The thing with kids is, if they want to grab for the gold ring, you have to let them do it, and not say anything. If they fall off, they fall off, but it’s bad if you say anything to them.

J. D. Salinger

The Catcher in the Rye. Holden in Chapter 25. The gold ring on the carousel in a symbol of the worldly success most of us try to reach for. Holden is saying here that you have let children make their own mistakes and not try to correct them. He has previously said that he wants to be a catcher in the rye, protecting little kids from harm. He now realizes that it is a futile job.