“Childhood Scrapes?”

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When I was in first grade, my friend Norman and I were playing in his wooded back yard. His mother was busy in the house and had left us happily alone. Norman insisted that he knew how to fly. To prove it, he climbed up on their garden shed and jumped off with his arms extended winglike to the sky.

I learned that Norman didn’t know how to fly. His mother learned that he needed to be taken to the doctor to have his broken arm repaired. No one learned that we shouldn’t have been allowed to play alone in the back yard. Why? Because while no one wanted their kids to get hurt playing, most people I knew assumed that all kids get hurt at some time or another. It was, they believed, part of a normal childhood. I didn’t know a child who at some point hadn’t broken a limb, gotten stitches, chipped a tooth, or scarred some part of their body.

I truly appreciate seat belts, bike helmets, polio vaccines, childproof medicine bottle caps, antibiotics and pedestrian activated walk signs. None of these existed in my childhood and grievous harm came to children without these modern inventions. Still, I shudder at the overprotective  approach many parents have about their children’s safety. The book I mentioned yesterday, The Coddling of the American Mind, stresses the damage this kind of parenting does to developing children. They come to see the world as a dangerous place, made safe for them by their parents or other adults, with no chance to learn to look out for their own well being. Children become brave by confronting danger. Not life-threatening danger, but run of the mill challenges. They fall and get scraped and get up and try again without their parents standing over them warning them at every turn.

37 thoughts on ““Childhood Scrapes?”

  1. Kids do learn from their mistake. Prime example is teaching them the basics of hot and cold. Then they realized to touch or not, to blow air food to cool it off before eating or get brain freeze when eating ice cream…

  2. As a specialist therapist in Adolescent behavior…it is very important for children to learn resilience & this is gained by facing challenges & overcoming those challenges in all areas of their lives, age appropriate challenges of course. Otherwise I see too many children affected by anxiety disorders.
    Jennifer

    1. I had a dear friend, a psychiatrist, tell me he saw too many young adults who had been “over parented.” I hadn’t connected anxiety disorders with this though they do mention that the statistics on college students seeking help for them has skyrocketed.

      1. Sadly here too…
        We have a term here for over parenting called “helicopter parenting” as the parents are constantly hovering over their children…which in itself creates dysfunction, stress & anxiety. As it comes from these, anxiety begets anxiety.

  3. I agree with what you say here, Elizabeth, about over protecting our children in this modern world we live in. My anxieties are not really around these “normal” childhood growing experiences but rather around the much bigger threats that didn’t exist to the same extent in our youth like the Dark Internet, sexual predictor groups and the like. The internet, for all its massive benefits, has also opened the doors to abuse by those with dark minds and made their jobs much easier in many ways.

  4. It’s fun to remember our mishaps as kids. Today, if you recant them to the younger audience, they are quick to claim we were neglected, or abused for allowing us to do such things. I say take the bubble wrap off, and let them breathe.

  5. I used to wait until my parents fell asleep for the afternoon Saturday nap, put my dollies in a pram (you say stroller) and walk with them up to a mile or two from home 😅 This was no later than 2nd grade too!

        1. What is strange is that the danger is actually less than the group think believes. It apparently isn’t actually more dangerous, we just think that it is. Then there are no kids outside so it seems strange when a kid is out there.

        2. My main concern is sex offenders and distracted drivers, which both seem to be rampant these days in some form or other. I’m not too concerned about the child’s ability to make it there on a good day.

        3. Oh wow! The ones I mostly encountered were the ones who had to shout things like “Stiff breast!” etc at me. Some also tried to touch, but I usually flew into a rage whenever that happened, as you may remember from my MeToo posts, haha.

        4. Hahahahaha! The irony of me seeing this right after getting an unsolicited dick pic on Instagram today. I didn’t even know you could send those! There is something really wrong with how a lot of men think.

        5. LoL what did he say? They usually don’t take that very well 🤣 It’s an ongoing joke in my group of friends that a guy who brags usually isn’t working with much.

  6. I grew up when the current fad for children in Europe was “adventure playgrounds”. Sites full of interesting things for children to play with -pipes, planks, tyres, ropes, concrete blocks, etc, etc. Today they have all closed down as they are too dangerous ! Unfortunately experience needs to be of both success and failure. I we exclude the latter we will never truly learn.

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