When I went to school a few decades ago, myself and my classmates certainly looked different to children the same age today. I don’t only mean the unfashionable haircuts or the width of flare on our trousers, but rougher looking.
Grubbier, with dirt under our fingernails and probably with more bruises, scratches and scabs on our knees.
The dirt and wounds weren’t a sign that our parents didn’t care for us, but simply that we got up to a lot more risky behaviour and that was allowed.
Today, children’s play areas have soft padded flooring so that if they fall from a swing they bounce rather than break, low branches are removed from trees in case a child is tempted to climb up one, while a large number of children barely get a chance to experience the outdoors as they are dropped off at the school steps in the morning and picked up on the way home, while a play date is organised by the parents and takes place in someone’s house.
The main problem with all of this over-protectiveness is not that we are breeding a generation of delicate flowers, but more importantly, that children won’t know how to deal with a situation which involves real risk as adults.
How can you judge whether it is a risk to intervene in someone else’s dispute if you have never experienced dealing with a risky situation when you were growing up?
– Gordon Cairns
Read more: Unwrapping the cotton wool kids