Wednesday, March 18, 2009

We don't want any tears, do we?

One thing that I can't get over here is how we seem to have OD'd on playground safety to the point where you wonder why we even bother taking the little ones out at all.
Young toddler, fully capable of walking unassisted, are not allowed to try and climb up even the smallest little play-structure but is having mommy saying: Careful, you might hurt yourself, and then lifting the child up to where it wants to go.

It is a miracle if the swing is even moving when we give it the gentlest possible push, and the sand - a breathing pit of bacteria, viruses and other unidentified killer-bug - quick! Hand me over those wipes immediately!!!!

Have we completely stopped remembering what it was like when we grew up? What kind of freedom we had? And I'm not talking about cycling around the neighborhood for hours without the parents knowing where you were, I'm simply talking about giving small children the opportunity to explore and discover, and move and face challenges and sometime hurting themselves but most of the time achieving something that they have never done before and be able to feel a great sense of self fulfilment which is all part of raising a healthy, happy, confident human being.

It seems that what we do in good faith, and with all the best intentions, will cause more harm in the long run. As far as the sand-pit goes, there is of course the good old argument of letting a child build up it's immune-system, which won't be possible if we sanitize and wipe, and clean every single surface it's being in contact with, and that's a good argument! But on a more psychological level, not only do we send out signals of danger if we move children away from a small but easily manageable obstacle, signals that will tell the child that the world is indeed big and very dangerous (a world that the child will eventually have to learn to master anyway, so why not start sooner rather than later?), we also teach them that we, the parent, will always, always be at hand, and they will soon learn that they don't have to do anything for themselves because some one else will be right behind to sort it all out for them. I dread to think the disappointment that child will feel the one day when mommy happens to look away, or be otherwise engaged for a few seconds.

So stop guarding over your child so fiercely in the playground. Give the swing a proper push! Let them crawl or climb up a couple of stairs on the structure, and go down a slide. Of course, always be at hand, but don't do the job for them! Let them feel that they are accomplishing little goals all by themselves.
And, between me and the rest of the world: a little sand in the mouth has never killed anyone. It's really yukky, I know, but so is the taste of Pampers Wipes, believe me, I have tried.

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