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children playing

Bubble Wrapped Children

I find it so sad that children have no place to play. They play in parks on scheduled play breaks with adults watching their every move making sure they don’t get hurt. “Don’t climb so high Johnny, you’ll fall.” “Watch out Betty, be careful there. You’ll hurt yourself.” Adults are overly careful when watching children. Every single boo boo is treated like it’s a major injury. God forbid it should happen on someone else’s property because then the parent will sue because little Susie got hurt.

When I was growing up, we never saw the inside of the house unless it was dinner time or bed time. We were always outside and it wasn’t in a playground where our every move was being watched by an adult. We were free to do whatever we wanted. If we got hurt, our parents patched us up then sent us right back outside to continue playing. Guess what? We healed up and kept being kids. We didn’t get sent to the hospital emergency room because we skinned our knee.

Children today are wrapped in a protective bubble of adult protection. They are always supervised. Their play is scheduled so everything is timed. Their play area is created by adults instead of them. If something goes wrong, they don’t learn to shake it off and move on, instead they are taught that every injury, no matter how small, is a major injury that requires medical attention.

The freedom to be a child is gone today. Children aren’t allowed to be children. They aren’t allowed to think like children. When everything in their life is programmed by an adult, they are forced to let go of childhood early and think and behave like an adult, even when playing. When their every move is scheduled, they feel a lack of control over their own lives. When they are forced to play the way adults want them too, they don’t learn the things nature needs them to learn. Children’s play teaches them to socialize, to act out things that are bothering them, to let out repressed emotions, to model the behavior of the adults in their lives and to solve problems. When adults control children’s play they can’t do those things.

Even the toys children play with makes their play restrictive. For example, girls play with gender approved toys and boys play with gender approved toys. This limits their ability to be true to themselves. A boy is forced to play with cars and guns. A girl is forced to play with dolls and dress up. These are adult approved toys and games. They have nothing to do with what a child may really want to do. The child is forced to play the way the adults around them want them too. Their creativity, their ingenuity goes out the window.

Controlling children’s play is like controlling someone’s dreams. Dreams are not supposed to be controlled. It’s the way we get rid of our pent up emotions, solve problems and be creative. If someone controls them we can’t do that. It’s not an outlet anymore, it becomes another area of stress. Children need to have the freedom to play without adult intervention, without adult supervision and without adults creating the things they play with. Children need the freedom to be children. They think in ways that adults don’t and they need time to work things out at a child’s level in a way that only a child can.

Children’s play should not be supervised. They should be free to do whatever they want. Adults tend to interpret children’s play in an adult way. Things that mean nothing to children are interpreted as inappropriate to the adults watching. I remember doing many things when I was a child that if adults had been watching they would have been shocked, outraged, concerned etc. But from a child’s point of view it was just something to do and then discarded as soon as the experience was over. Adults tend to make little events into big events when there is no need for them to turn into big events in the child’s life.

Children do not need to be wrapped in a bubble. Mother nature makes them heal faster, bounce back faster and mend emotionally faster than adults. If only we would just let them be children then they can move on from being a child and grow into well-adjusted adults instead of staying children all of their lives.

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