Time to take off the cotton wool and let kids be kids

RECKON your kids are too mollycoddled? Wrapped up in cottonwool?

Heaps of our kids are today because we don't want them to get hurt. We want to protect them from the nasty things that can happen if you play outdoors.

Bollocks, I say.

Looking back to the good old days when I was a kid, we used to climb trees - and I'm talking very tall macrocarpa trees - we rode our bikes everywhere, we'd build trolleys and take to the hills.

Sure we'd come home from a day outside with a few scrapes and scratches - but we didn't die.

Tell you something else we didn't get too, and that was sick very often.

These days, we would rather keep our kids inside than let them out to play in the dirt.

We want to make sure they don't hurt themselves - and in the process we're creating a generation of sooks, and kids who are susceptible to every infection under the sun because they haven't been exposed to many germs.

Even at our schools, we make sure the kids don't do anything that might endanger them, and some of that comes from schools covering their backsides so they can't be blamed if a kid breaks an arm or whatever.

I was reading an article on a New Zealand news website recently which told the story of a school in Auckland that has chucked out all of the rules that have been imposed over the years - and the results are quite startling.

Swanson Primary School has kids climbing trees, riding skateboards and playing bullrush during play time - and guess what - the school has seen a distinctive drop in bullying, serious injuries and vandalism, and concentration levels in the classroom are on the increase.

Principal Bruce McLachlan got rid of playtime rules as part of a successful university experiment.

"We want kids to be safe and to look after them, but we end up wrapping them in cotton wool when in fact they should be able to fall over," he told the news organisation.

"When you look at our playground it looks chaotic. From an adult's perspective, it looks like kids might get hurt, but they don't."

It all sounds like an awful lot of good sense to me.

Let's get back to basics and let them get outside - they'll be far healthier for it.



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