Recreation and Sport Studies

Studying, Experiencing and Facilitating Kinesiology, Recreation and Sport through Wellness and Physical Activity

The Overprotected Kid

1 Comment

As a graduating undergraduate in RSS, an article I would like recommend reading is:

http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2014/03/hey-parents-leave-those-kids-alone/358631/

The article was written by a father and discusses how unstructured and unsupervised play can be important for children’s growth and development. What it means to be overprotected parent, how involved parents can be in their children’s lives and why children need to have unsupervised play and risk in their lives were all highlighted.

After reading the article, it made me realize that parents are often overprotective because of the media. Media coverage of selected tragic stories of children dying/ seriously injuring themselves (they were actually tragic) on playgrounds and companies got sued. No one could afford getting sued at this time so companies were trying to protect themselves, which led to parents protecting their children even more. Throughout the article, it is mentioned that the crime rate in many communities is lower then many people think; the country is safer then it ever has been and, it even suggests that kids are more likely to get kidnapped by a relative than a stranger.

Even with all these facts, parents still do not want their children to get hurt in the world. Yet taking risk is an essential part of child development. However after reading this article, the playground seemed to have so many things that could injure the children but they learned to take risk and take care of themselves and each other, as a hierarchy forms among the playground. Playgrounds now are more boring then ever since playgrounds factories have to adhere to certain safety guidelines; all playgrounds have the same slide, at the same length, and same angle to ensure safety. These are just guidelines though. For example, I found a park in the countryside of England that had equipment that I have never seen at a park. It had a zip line, a ball web to climb in, and objects to hold onto and spin on. It was the most fun I have had at a park and it was because it was so different then our North American playgrounds. There was more risk and I found myself saying while I was there that we would never have this equipment at a playground in Canada because someone would get hurt. But really there were children of all ages on the equipment and I did not see anyone get hurt.

I believe being an overprotected parent can do more harm then good, especially after reading this article. Parents that “overprotect” their kids keep them from learning and making mistakes on their own, since they are consistently being supervised. Many people think that by letting your children off on the own that they will not be able to survive, they will get kidnapped or they will get seriously injured. Children need to be let out to explore and take risk for themselves since it is so important for them to learn to negotiate risk, stand up for themselves and become independent. By engaging in risky play,children are forcing themselves to overcome their fears.

 “Growing up is a process of managing fears and learning to arrive at sound decisions.”

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by Laura Bray

One thought on “The Overprotected Kid

  1. Great post Laura! I completely agree with the article’s premise that overprotecting parents can prove to limit healthy youth development. These overinvolved, controlling, and meticulous helicopter parents undoubtedly have negative reputation. In an effort to critically examine the issue, I can’t help but highlight that perhaps these parents aren’t at fault. These hovering tendencies are a direct reflection of the culture in which we live. Paternalistic pressures demand that parents devote their time and energy into ensuring the success and wellbeing of their children. Naturally, parents have conformed to these standards and fail to recognize the potential harm they are causing. One could argue that some of these parenting practices have the potential to be beneficial for youth. There is no denying that overprotective parents are involved in the lives of their children. Principles of youth development indicate that supportive and caring adults play an important role in youth thriving. This is conducive to developing family support, family boundaries, and high expectations as external assets.

    However, a stronger argument can be made in reference to how this overbearing parenting can be negative. Free play is an opportunity for young people to learn and acquire important developmental assets. Developmental assets, defined by the Search Institute, are critical dimensions of adolescents’ lives that support optimal youth development. The more assets a youth can develop the more likely they are to thrive and have a healthy transition into adulthood. This being said, overprotecting children limits their opportunity to grow into independent, creative, and healthy contributing adults. The benefits of playing on a playground definitely outweigh the potential ‘dangers’. A playground is a place that enables youth to build positive peer relationships, problem solve, take calculated risks, and become more resilient. I think it is important for youth development advocates to educate parents about the importance of free play and the harms associated with bubble wrapping their children.

    -HV

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