I’m really very excited about a piece that I wrote for a dear friend at New Latina. I hope you’ll hop on over and read the full post. Here’s a little taste:
As parents and caregivers, the safety of our children is our highest priority. We ask them to wear their helmets while biking, to look before they leap, and we remind them again and again of the proper procedures for crossing the street.
We want them to be safe. That’s reasonable and responsible. But, as it is easy to do, we sometimes go a bit overboard on our efforts to protect our children. In the long run, some of our efforts can backfire.
Can A Playground Be Too Safe?
A piece in the New York Times, entitled, “Can a Playground Be Too Safe?”, the author notes that the tall slides and adventurous climbing structures of our own childhood playgrounds have been replace by tamer, assumably more lawsuit-proof equipment. While anyone with memories of asphalt-gnarled elbows or sunny-slide-burned thighs might be grateful for the progress, some researchers question if we’ve taken our safety measures too far, removing the opportunity for valuable play experiences.
In The American Journal of Play, research professor and prolific writer, Peter Gray compares research showing that the decrease of play in America seems to correlate with an increase of anxiety, depression, and other types of psychopathology. It’s a connection that Gray strengthens with decades worth of research.
While research shows that child-led play is being replaced by school work, TV and computer time, and organized sports activities, concurrent studies also show an increase in psychopathology in children and adolescents. These mental ills include things like anxiety, depression, and even narcissism. While checking for other causes of psychopathology, this research found that American children are actually more anxious now than they were during the Great Depression, World War II, and the cold war….
Loved this post! I left a comment at New Latina… loved her site too.
I´m latina too… being almost 40 I cannot say the same about being “new” though 🙂
Thank you, Fernanda. I’m glad I could point you toward another wonderful blog!
YES! But how do we change schools and overscheduling-micromanaging parents? How do we even get them to consider these very, very important points?!
Great question, Vicki. I think it varies in scope. We can do our part as parents to provide the opportunities our kids need within our own sphere of influence. There are also parents who actively work to save recess in schools where its very existence is being threatened. You can talk with teachers and administrators to encourage them to include important principles of play. As teachers and administrators ourselves we can educate and encourage our staff and use newsletters and parent education forums to help spread the word. What are some other ideas out there?
I’ve said before and I’ll say again that measures like these are ensuring that the next generation will be… well, a bunch of pansies. Do they even play dodgeball in schools anymore? Yes, safety is definitely a big concern, but a little bruise or a nosebleed won’t hurt you for more than a few minutes, and I think it’s important for kids to learn how to shake things off. Anyway, just my two cents. 🙂 Great post!
Fascinating article. Thanks so much for posting and for putting this information out there. I was shocked when you wrote that children have more anxiety now than they did during times of war in this country! This information is definitely going to help me shape my parenting philosophy. Thanks!!!
Great article!…I too agree with this philosophy…I am surrounded by many parents who treat their children like fragile glass that they must shelter at all times, and I must say it is VERY frustrating!…Kids must learn to deal with obstacles, minor physical injuries and unpleasant social situations on their own ( most of the time). It is no wonder this generation has no accountability, respect or backbone!!!…Thank you for posting..it really does make sense.