Letting children test their limits

Posted by Samantha on September 26, 2011 in Boundaries, Over-control, Play, Resilience, Safety |

Truth is not only violated by falsehood; it may be equally outraged by silence

Henri F. Amiel, Swiss philosopher and poet (1821 – 1881)

Where are all our children gone?  Last week I began to feel like I was in Vulgaria from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – a land where children are forbidden.  It used to be the case that “children should be seen and not heard”.

Today we prefer to tell ourselves we’re keeping our children safe but the effect is the same.

There are barely any children in the parks.  They are practically invisible on our streets.  You would hardly think teenagers exist where I live.  I noticed with horror last week that it has begun to look odd when you spot unsupervised pre-teens in public.  The helicopter parent syndrome has gotten out of hand.

Yes, there are places where it is appropriate to keep children off the streets and out of the parks.  But I live in a leafy and lovely part of the world.  Here, there are parks everywhere with fantastic play equipment in them.  Which parents don’t want to let their children use – the way children ACTUALLY use it.

Everywhere I look I see children being told to stop, to get down, to get off, to go slower, to be quieter.

Being told that it’s dangerous, that they could get hurt.

I’m sick of it. I’m sick of people thinking my children are naughty or out of control. I’m sick of being looked at like I’m negligent because I let them hang off the roundabout or run up the slide or climb on top of the climbing equipment or make a load of happy noise.

In the playground my children can push their physical limits, explore their creative potential, learn about real world physics.  They can test their courage, practice cooperation, improve their awareness of themselves and others.  Every trip to the park helps them to hone and celebrate their increasing skill.

Yes, they are noisy.  And sometimes they fall.  Not often considering how much they chuck themselves around!  My children are like monkeys because I have let them push their limits in the playground.

I let them do these things because I believe it would be irresponsible of me NOT TO.

I believe that parents need to learn how to comfort children when they fall (without shaming or blaming).  NOT try to stop them falling.

Last week I was sad about it.  Today I am outraged.  How dare we control and limit our children in this way to try to make US feel safe.

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