Am I the Only One Sickened by These “Tips”?

Hi Readers — One of you sent me this link to Moms Who Think. Apparently these are Moms Who Think TOO MUCH. They make outdoor play sound like sending your kid off to the Crusades. Voila:

…unlike schoolwork, outdoor play can present physical dangers that you may find downright disturbing.

Children can easily fall and hurt themselves, play dangerous games that result in harm to others, or even become targets for adult predators outside. So how can you allow your children the outdoor exercise they need without either stifling them or signing them up for an unplanned trip to the emergency room?

That sure makes outdoor play sound inviting. Hmm, should I send my kids out  or do I want  them to LIVE? Guess I’ll keep ’em inside!

The “tips” in the article include SUPERVISING the kids (big surprise), but  it never says when you are allowed to stop. Maybe never! That’s not an inconvenience, is it? And, of course, you are also expected to canvass the playground for all sorts of DANGER. They forgot to add that parents should always pack a healthy lunch, gallons of sunscreen and an Uzi.  — Lenore

This does not look safe at ALL! Where is the supervision?!

155 Responses

  1. Is it just me or is the writing there as stiff as a Victorian whalebone corset? Make me wonder if it’s that or simple constipation that has addled their brains.

  2. Wait…are there planned trip to an emergency room?

  3. Hmmm, send the kids outside and risk them getting sent to the emergency room, or keep them inside where it’s safe? That’s right, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and obesity are just the trade-off I’m looking for instead of those pesky scars and that nasty blood, and heaven forbid my child should ever track dirt into the house. Oh, and let’s not forget the fact that when they do go outside and I’m there to “deal with potential dangers as they crop up”, I’ll also get the pleasure of making choices and dealing with these issues well into my child’s adulthood. Thanks “Moms who [don’t] think”, for making this an easy choice for me.

  4. OMG! Those reckless parents. Not even once did they mention bubble wrap and knee & elbow pads along with gloves and a DOT certified helmet to go on a swing, or heaven forbid, a death trap like a merry-go-round!

  5. Our little neighborhood playground isn’t very big…one swingset with two regular swings (no baby swings), a memorial gazebo for the little neighbor girl who was accidentally run over last summer, and the main piece of playground equipment. I noticed while watching my 21 month old play happily on it that there was a sticker on one of the supporting poles and went closer to inspect it. It said that the playground was designed only for children ages 5-12.

    Meanwhile my daredevil 21 month old was busy climbing up and sliding down multiple times on not only the “baby” slide (which really would NOT appeal to even the most clingy and sheltered 5 year old as any fun at all)…but the straight slide and even the tall twisty slide!! I mostly just stood nearby the big slide watching, taking pictures, and ready to jump out and grab him should he REALLY take chances!! But he had so much fun and never wanted to leave…even after doing a face plant in the pebbles that cover the playground from off a step a couple feet off the ground…he brushed it off and climbed right back up to slide down again!!

    If we coddle our children when they are young…how in the WORLD are they going to cope in the big, bad world when they reach that magic age of adulthood? Yeah, I stood/sat near in case he decided it would be fun to catapult off…but I also got a week’s worth of menu planning done while he had a blast playing on equipment that he supposedly isn’t supposed to play on for another 3 and a half years!!

  6. This horrible Aunt was refusing to help her 5 yr old niece across the monkey bars in her own backyard and instead made her drop onto the ground (of GRAVEL!) when she freaked out and froze. By the 3rd drop, she was rejoicing that she could land without having to use her hands. Balance and agility! Horrible things to teach a child.

  7. I’ve got a friend who says if your kid doesn’t break a bone at least once during childhood, you aren’t giving them enough opportunities to be stupid. I sort of think part of parenting is accepting that sometimes it involves heart-stopping moments of terror… for you, and yes, maybe an emergency room trip or two.

  8. Those rules make sense for little kids, like under 5 or so. I can’t imagine staying outside with a school-aged child playing in the backyard. I wish people would just use common sense instead of letting fear and paranoia guide what they do.

    I also don’t see what is so bad about a few scrapes, or even a broken bone. Skin and bones heal. The only thing that scares me at all are head injuries, which is why I’m vigilant about helmet use.

  9. Our daycare director recently mentioned to me that her new state inspector has suggested that she removes the Little Tykes slides (you know, the ones that are all of about 3 ft tall) from their outdoor play area, because it is possible that a 2-yr-old might fall and get hurt. Instead, he recommends more ‘natural’ play activities, such as digging in the dirt. My immediate response was two-fold: (1) If my 2-yr-old falls from that height, it probably won’t even affect him! and (2) What about the risks of dirt digging due to young children attempting to eat said dirt! Oh, the horrors!

  10. @Cee initially misread your comment and was trying to figure out how she crossed the monkey bars with no hands. I mean, I can think of a few ways, but they didn’t seem likely if she kept dropping off…🙂

  11. No Lenore, you aren’t the only one.

    When I think back to what we used to get up to as young lads, it would make these self-righteous morons’ heads explode.

    If I didn’t know any better, I might believe that the whole “for the protection of the chiiiiiiiilllllddddrrrennnnn” thing was some sort of conspiracy or social engineering experiment designed to make the next generation wholly reliant upon the State or State agencies, unable to think for themselves and therefore compliant with the whims of the powers that be. Suggest that in polite company and people will think you’re a little unhinged.

  12. I know! We can protect the children by having them do nice, safe schoolwork 24/7/365. Can’t let them play – they might get hurt or kidnapped. Can’t let them sleep – what if they have nightmares?

  13. I think an Uzi is too cumbersome and would suggest a more compact 9mm Beretta.

  14. I don’t know, Meagan. I never broke any bones during childhood (and only had to get stitches once!) and I had plenty of chances to be stupid. Every day, rain, shine, or icy conditions, I climbed down the two-story ladder to my backyard. Sometimes several times, and then up to the roof. My mother swears she would never have let me if she had known.

  15. Heh, when I and one of our pastor’s sons were eight and my brother and the other pastor’s son was five we used to play out behind this big old barn at the back of the church property (when my family was renting the “parsonage”). At the back of the barn was a sort of lean-to shed that at some point had been attached to the barn…but was only about 8 feet high as opposed to the 20-something feet high barn roof. We used to climb up there and that was our “clubhouse”…and then we’d jump off to get down. Besides a few scrapes now and then (mostly from scrambling up) we survived that.

    Then there was the chicken house in back of my aunt’s house. It had a fairly flat-ish roof with only a slight slope. When I was even younger (six?) me and my cousins would scramble up old stacked crates at the back side of the chicken house where the roof was lower and go play up there…and nobody freaked out.

    Then there was our normal suburban house we lived in when I was nine. I can’t remember how young the youngest kids were…but myself and brother and several neighborhood kids shimmied up the tree in our front yard and then hopped over onto our roof (at a height of 12 feet I think?) and played up there a couple times…and the only time we got in trouble was when we’d holler down hellos to my mom through those spinning vent things when mom was trying to get the younger ones to nap!!

    Umm, yeah…I was a bit of a tomboy as a kid!!

  16. I want to be positive and say at least it’s good that they’re encouraging outdoor play, but it’s hard when their approach is so negative — start by emphasizing and fearing the “horrors” that could happen, and then seek to relieve them, as though we’re talking about life-threatening surgery rather than PLAYING OUTSIDE.

    A much healthier approach, that still dealt with the fearful reality of too many moms today, would be,

    “Playing outside is both fun, and great for your kids’ health and well-being. Here are a few tips to keep in mind to keep it safe.”

    But no, start out like we’re training Rangers to rescue hostages from a fever-infested swamp controlled by suicidal terrorists, then seek to “relieve parents’ minds” with a couple of ridiculously common sense suggestions.

  17. And of course, the assumption that any degree of “hurting themselves” is something to be avoided at nearly any cost is ridiculous as well — but still, being mindful of safety is good, because kids doing something genuinely dangerous is certainly not beyond the realm of possibility, if they are not supervised (as age appropriate), taught basic sensible safety behavior, and instructed to play in only safe areas.

    Of course, the definition of “only safe areas” at Moms Who Overthink is rather narrower than mine — I let them play in the street of our cul-de-sac when the neighbor’s basketball goal is up. But construction sites, banned swimming areas, and abandoned mine shafts are out.😉

  18. I had a lot of freedom as a kid but never broke a bone or for that matter had any stiches. I got plenty of bruises and scrapped knees though.

    But then I was a bit of a nerd (still am actually) and often preferred to stay indoors playing with my chemistry set – and I had quite a few close escapes with that. I once nearly set the kitchen on fire!

  19. Just last week my 7 year old was out playing in the neighborhood. He had ridden his scooter a few streets over to play with some friends. I got a call from another boy’s mom that my son had cut his hand and I should probably come and get him since he could no longer ride his scooter home. I drove to the house with my 9 year old daughter (so she could ride the scooter back to our house). My son had indeed cut his hand, sawing wood! Apparently he and a few other boys found some wood and saws in the garage and decided to build something. After realizing the cut wasn’t that bad, just lots of blood, I had a talk with him. I said “You know what this means right?” He said “I shouldn’t ever use a saw again”. I said “No, you need to practice using a saw more so you know how to do it without getting cut”!!!

  20. I understand supervising ones kids when they’re outside but I agree – when are you allowed to stop? When are you allowed to trust that you’ve done your job as a parent and taught your kids what they should and shouldn’t do? You can’t make your kids live in a bubble.

  21. I’ve told this story before, but it seems a good time to re-tell it.

    Around age 9 my cousin & I were playing in the woods at night–yes, at night–chasing fireflies. I didn’t know there was a bobbed-wire fence in the woods. I ran smack into it. The bob-wire barely missed my eyeball, there is a scar there to this day. I had to go to the hospital.

    I still played in the woods–in the dark–after that, and no one (as best as I can remember, I was 9) thought of my mother as being some sort of reckless lazy “WHAT WERE YOU THINKING!!!” type of slack-off.

    There is no reason to do any differently than that today, not even the fear of nosy neighbors. Letting other’s fears become yours isn’t parenting, it’s paranoia.

    Enjoy your vacation, Lenore, you deserve it.

    LRH

  22. @Henry. Oh dear, count me in. Had a conversation last night with DH about lack of play in childhood resulting in a lack of adult creativity in the corporate world. Make them drones as children and, shock! you get drones as adults. The future impact on scientific development and small business development in this country will be vast.

  23. From the article: “Finally, make sure that when your children are ready to play that they keep it age appropriate. Don’t let a child that is too small play on an older child’s toy or playground equipment that they simply do not have the skills and strength to manage yet.”

    Okay, I have a 12 yo, a 7 yo, and a 2 yo. Based on this type of thinking I should only have play equipment in my yard that is 2 yo safe, or constantly follow the 2 yo around to make sure she only plays on the ‘safe’ stuff. No, thank you.

  24. wow, playing outside ? more dangerous than schoolwork? NO!
    Funny, the only ER worthy injury my kid ever sustained at shool happened in the classroom, not on the playground.
    She hit the underside of the desk with her rearend while retrieving a pencil from the floor, flipped the desk over onto her hands. Sure it hurt, but nothing broken, and she learned to get out of her chair, before attempting to crawl under a desk.
    The ER doctor was hilarious and joked with her about more exciting things she could have been doing when you get this kind of injury. A better war story kind of thing.
    The school however was traumatized, completely rearranging classrooms to make the desks face each other and not be able to tip..
    sheesh

  25. I must be a horrible mother — my 2-year-old fell and scraped his knees THREE TIMES while playing outside last weekend… By the third time, the only reason he cried was because I made him put a band-aid on the bloody one! Quick, someone call the state on me!

  26. I looked at the article and poked around the website and got a very different take on the article. I’m guessing the target audience on their site is women with kids from 0-5 (look at the suggested games and activities) so when they are talking about kids, I’m thinking kindergarten or younger. From that perspective, this is actually a free-range lite article.

    In the intro, the author points out that the parents are bothered by the dangers but they need to get their kids out despite those dangers. Then the author says keep an eye on your kids and “monitor the situation”. The author doesn’t say control the situation. If you are talking 4 yr olds, sitting on the bench chatting with other parents while stopping occasionally to yell that sliding into other kids isn’t appropriate behavior is a perfectly good start to Free-Ranging your kids.

    Next the author points out that your backyard and park, 4yr old and 8yr old have different rules. Not too different from what people supporting this site believe.

    Then the author says to make sure the place is safe and age appropriate. The only concrete suggestion is, ironically, to make sure the park surface isn’t concrete. Again, not unreasonable and something that Free-Rangers are going to do nearly unconsciously. With a 4 yr old it is a careful inspection of the play area; with a 10 yr old it is careful questioning and knowing the area (and people) they are headed to; with a 16 yr old it is even more careful questioning but possibly only passing knowledge of the area.

    Finally, throughout this entire article, the author implies that your children are going to go outside, the are going to get hurt, and you should let this happen. This to me shows this is a Free-Ranger who is trying to show the coddlers how to let go and start down the right path.

  27. I let my two and four year olds go play in the front yard while I do housework. They get to play outside (no equipment…just the stuff that grows out there) and I get some stuff done without constant interuptions. They’re learning to play together and solve problems themselves. They know the boundaries of our yard and I have never seen them wander off. The worst thing that’s happened was a bee sting – and that was quickly forgotten!
    I’ve noticed that if I keep the kids inside more they FIGHT more. I’ll keep sending them outside (by themselves) no matter what anyone says.

  28. Oh, I don’t know. The article starts with the point that outdoor play is important. Its threshold for what constitutes a problem seems to be a trip to the ER — I’m good with that. My own mental rule of thumb when watching my son play is, “Is this likely to lead to a visit to the ER?” If the answer is yes, I change something. If it’s no, I generally don’t.

    My real objection is the article’s vapidity. Parents need to make decisions about how closely to supervise their kids and what constitutes safe play (space) based on the kids’ ages and abilities (with no details or even examples about what might be appropriate when, where, and for whom). No, really? Who knew?

  29. Personally, I’m shocked at how the writer completely disregards the dangers of schoolwork. An unattended child could stab him- or herself in the eye with a pencil or pen, or receive a debilitating paper cut.

    I send my 2-year-old outside by himself all the time. He spends most of his time making dandelion soup and digging in the unused vegetable plots.

  30. They may call their site “moms who think” – but I think they are thinking to hard about something that should be a simple fact of life – childhood play.

  31. Henry – One of the reasons the US has always been the leader in design engineering has been our tinkering as kids. China and India are great at manufacturing things that others design (I know because my husband works with them) and Japan can reverse engineer things on their own. If we take that opportunity away from our kids, we’ll have lost a powerful resource in this country. Maybe that’s why there’s less interest in math and science in schools.

  32. Of course, the problem with recommending the uzi is that the sorts of people who would make these recommendations are the sort who would get a case of the vapors at the thought of an average citizen having the capacity for self-defense instead of simply cowering in a corner until police arrived.

  33. Is this paranoia taken to a new level, or just idiots? Since the beginning of time, when men and women realized they can have babies, children have always hurt themselves growing up. Are still hurting themselves growing up. And future generations…yes…will continue to hurt themselves growing up. One can say, it’s a part of life growing up.

    Until there is some crazy genetic enhancing drug that can make our kids impervious to injury, or some lightweight body armor that makes them invincible, kids will ALWAYS get hurt. The question is when and how. It could be when they are walking to school, taking a bath, eating even. The point is, you never know. Just like the “predator” debate. Sure anything can happen at any given time, but will it? There’s no point in racking your brain and worrying. Plus, if children don’t get hurt, they’ll never learn how to cope with the real world and real life situations, and getting hurt when playing or doing things is part of life. If someone can tell me they’ve NEVER been hurt growing up (that includes, cuts, scrapes, bumps, bruises, sprains, etc…), or even now as an adult, I’ll eat crow.

  34. The article starts off with a good premise. Kids need to play outdoors. But by the second paragraph, the author is talking about all of the potential for injury, being a target for predators, and taking a trip to the emergency room because of injuries incurred from playing outdoors. And in the third paragraph she mentions the “untoward dangers” of playing outdoors. She makes playing outdoors sound as appealing as a trip to a war zone in Afghanistan, Libya, or Iraq.

    According to the article, I’m a Very Bad Mother. My son has been playing unsupervised with his friends outdoors since he was very young. Now he and his friends go to the local play areas and play soccer or ride their skateboards in the parking area of the (closed for the season) local ski resort. He and his friends have had their share of bumps and bruises, but they have all lived to tell about them. I never thought that I was making my son a target for predators or exposing him to all sorts of horrible dangers by letting him play outdoors. Shame on me!

    In Germany parents believe that playing outside in the fresh air is beneficial. A lot of the playgrounds here wouldn’t pass muster in the States. There are wooden climbing structures with splinters, no bark chips or rubber mats under the playground equipment (just normal grass or dirt), sandboxes, and (horror of horrors!) merry go rounds. The parents who accompany their kids to the local playgrounds sit on the benches and let their kids play without any interference.

  35. I’m a pediatric physical therapist. A lot of my clients are clumsy because they have had no exposure to outdoor playgrounds and never get to run and play. They are obese and afraid of falling. Imagine! A three year old falling! Maybe we should just bubble wrap our kids! BTW, these kids are experts at video games and identifying the McDonald’s arches! :-((

  36. Right. Because children are as fragile as blown glass and can’t be expected to survive the trauma of a splinter or scraped knee. Why bother letting them learn their own limits and how to deal with injuries when you can spare them (and yourself) the trouble and just tell them what to avoid (ie – everything) to begin with?

    We’re well on our way to raising a generation of agoraphobics at this rate.

  37. The title “Moms Who Think”, made me laugh. This article doesn’t actually say anything. I should supervise my kid? Check. I should do a quick scan of the play area for obvious dangers? Check. Then I should let him play. Check.

    What a relief, I’m doing it right….and you know what, I didn’t think about it at all! Though I do define “age-appropriate” based on my kid’s ability. I let my boy climb up the big slide with me behind him at 18 mo, and now at 2 1/2, he climbs on his own. The sign says age 5. Whatever.

    Come to think of it, I define supervision that way too.

    So is this article really designed to TEACH moms to think? At this very simplistic level? Maybe there are people who need that (kind of a frightening thought) but this sort of writing isn’t likely to reach them.

  38. An example of a German “building playground”, where the kids build it first, then play on it:

    http://www.stiftung-ecken-wecken.de/wilderwesten.html

    Now that’s a finger in the eye to Moms who think (too much).

  39. @ Tuppence: that’s awesome! I’d have a field day if I were that young again. What normal kid WOULDN’T want to play on that thing.

    As they saying goes, don’t think to hard, just do it. When you over analyze, or think too much, you WILL ALWAYS find something to freak yourself about. Even if it is remote. That’s how these heli-parents think…or over think.

  40. I find that I cannot understand people who think like the person who wrote the above. Children need to play, they need to explore. In some ways I think the playing and exploring in the very young and young should be mandatory. Without an adult watching over them all the time. Ideally they’d have older kids with them too. Maybe I belong in a time long past, a time that believed children where capable of knowing what they had the ability to do physically and not.

    Yesterday we went to a park day with our local homeschool group. There was a huge field lined with trees the tree line contained Poison Oak, and one side also contained a stream. Where do you think most of the kids naturally gravitated towards? That stream of course, where they took a chance of touching poison oak. My only request of my daughter was that she not be alone and to try not to get wet. Although the wet was because I hadn’t brought extra clothing not because I cared if she went in to the stream. I explained to her why I didn’t want her to get wet and left it up to her. She did go in the water shoes an all, to about her ankles, and she said not a word one to me about being wet. Only expressed joys of being allowed to be down there exploring. On and when I asked her about the poison oak she said that people showed her what it was and she stayed out of it.

    Yet one of her friends mom’s took her home early because she felt it was to much of a risk to let her daughter play in the stream and her daughter was frustrated over the fact that her friends where down there and she wasn’t. I respect this mom because she makes it clear that she felt that way for her child, and that it was ok for me to make the different choice for mine.

    I know letting mine play in the stream was right, the shining bright, happy child that returned from the adventures that I’ll never know what she did in total.

    I also know if it had just been my daughter and I, I never would have let her go down to the stream because I do believe in packs of children vs one alone.

  41. This just cracks me up, I don’t see what these parents are trying to do in the end. It just creates adults that will be even more crazy than their overprotective parents. I can’t imagine what our society is going to be like 3 or 4 generations from now. I just posted a few great pictures I found from when my mom was a child, I don’t kow if I can share the link here or not but I’ll try, http://bubblehead-ed.tumblr.com/post/4638521295/things-you-dont-see-kids-doing-anymore-some-of

  42. I was going to mention the Children’s Crusades of 1212 but after reading the following, there is a lot of doubt to the credibility of this “crusade.”

    http://www.crusades-history.com/Childrens-Crusade.aspx

  43. When I was a child about 95% of my outside play was “unsupervised”. We would go to the elementary school to play on the play ground (we had to climb the fence to get in), we would go “fishing” at the river, and we had various tree forts and stuff like that. The only time I got hurt was in our yard. My brother and sister didn’t fare so well, with a couple broken arms each. WAIT A MINUTE! One of my sister’s broken arms was falling out of bed, so that shouldn’t count. My mom didn’t really know where we were most of the time. She actually had an “after the fact” freak out when my sister and I were talking about some things we used to do as kids. She got a weird look and her face and said, “You did WHAT?!?!” None of us got hurt-obviously. 🙂 I agree that children NEED outside time for their development. Staying inside all day drives ME crazy. I couldn’t imagine a child confined to their homes. It would be like a prison. And Mom would probably lose her mind. I admit, I don’t allow my son much “freedom” when we are outside. Well, he just turned one a week ago and hasn’t figured out walking yet. But as soon as he does, I plan on letting him loose (with age appropriate supervision, of course). And if he gets a bump or two, he’ll be tougher for it. While common sense is necessary and appropriate, treating children like delicate china cups won’t do them any good. A few minor injuries is a normal part of childhood (or at least should be).

  44. based on those moms’ rules, my yard is way to unsafe to ever allow my son out there. I live in the desert and like to conserve water; therefore, most of my plants are shape, pointy cactus! Sure, my son gets a thorn once in a while, but since he figured out they hurt, he quit trying to touch them.

  45. Pack an Uzi for protection? Get real. The modern playground requires at least missile defense, anti-tank rockets, mortars, mine fields, bazookas and machine guns. Additionally, a playground is completely unsafe unless it is also protected by 18′ tall barbed wire fences, and snipers on all high points surrounding it. There will be metal detectors and strip searches / body cavity checks of ALL entering; after all, that 2-year-old might be a child molester.

    Only an Uzi. Sheesh. You don’t care much about kids, do you?

    /snark

    (total over-the-top satire, btw)

  46. “When I was a kid I didn’t have an XBox or Wii, there was this thing called a Lite- Brite. My curfew was the street lights and mom didn’t call my cell she yelled “time to come in”. I played outside with friends, not Online. If I didn’t eat what my mom made me then I didn’t eat. Hand sanitizer didn’t exist, but you COULD get your mouth washed out with soap. Repost if you drank water out of a hose and survived.”

    Lovely Free Range-ish post going around my facebook newsfeed today. Made me smile. 🙂

  47. Well, as a Thinking Mum, I’ll relay on statistics. Let’s see… My 5 yo boy has had stitches on four separate occasions, and a broken wrist (that time, the on-duty doctor at the ER diagnosed a chronic clumsiness, and jokingly prescribed a straitjacket).
    Just one of those incidents happened while playing outdoors. The rest, at home. So, basing my future actions on real-life statistics, I think I’ll keep him outdoors for the rest of his childhood, thank you very much.

  48. @ Dora, I had a Lite-Brite! Back in the late ’60s/early ’70s a Lite-Brite was the cool toy to have. I also had real wooden Tinkertoys and Lincoln Logs, which got handed down to my brother when I was into more “girlish” things.

    I had the same experiences growing up: walked to school by myself starting at age 6, walked or biked to friends’ houses (where we spent most of our time outside), and curfew was dinnertime. There were no formal “playdates.” My friends and I would knock on each others’ doors and then we’d all play together. We were never supervised by our parents when we played. If I didn’t like what my mother was serving, I had to make my own meal and do all of the cleanup from it. I lost count of the number of times I drank out of a garden hose. It was a lot easier than going inside to get a drink.

    @ Tuppence, I love that “building park” in Leipzig that you posted. I wish that I lived there so that my son could play in that park. He would love it. OK, I wish that I was a kid so that I could play there too. It looks like a lot more fun than the “safe” playgrounds in the States with plastic structures with lots of rubber underneath them.

  49. It must really suck to be a kid today. At least kids of these paranoid parents that see danger at every turn.

    I honestly don’t even know what is at our local playground. I’ve only drove by it and walked by it twice since we moved here last August. My kids play there often, though. They find it boring with it’s lack of swings (no idea why there are no swings because there is plenty of space and the other playgrounds have them…except for the one at my kids’ school).

    I was reading a discussion on a parenting site about unsupervised play and there was a majority that wouldn’t let their kids play in their fenced in back yards alone until they were at least 8 or 9 and then they would have to check on them every 10 minutes and the windows would all have to be open so they could hear the kids play. How very sad. I can’t imagine being 9 and confined to the spaces of a backyard. My 9yo is all over the neighborhood. I can’t wait to get him a bike this summer so he can get to his friend’s house across the neighborhood easier (other side of the park so about 4-5 blocks away).

    What really got me about that article, though, was the way it was written as actual rules. Like there is some law that all kids must be supervised at all times or you are negligent and/or lazy and not being the best mom. I’ve seen it time and time again on parenting sites. You HAVE to supervise. Kids can not be left unsupervised in a room alone inside their own house until they are 5 or 6. Can’t be outside unsupervised until 10. Can’t walk to school alone…ever. Can’t go to the mall alone until they are 18. There was a discussion the other day about a mom who showed her 16yo dd how to ride the city bus to school and when she told her husband he FREAKED out and said she couldn’t do it any more and that the mom was neglectful and obviously didn’t love their dd enough to drive her every day. At least most of those that responded said the girl was plenty old enough to get herself to school on her own whether it was by city bus, car or foot.

    Funny thing about injuries…they assume outside play is inherently dangerous and inside is much safer. The first time I ever broke a bone was inside. I jumped off my cousin’s bunkbed when I was 4 and fractured my ankle. My mom’s response: what were you thinking? I shrugged and was like, “I did it before and didn’t get hurt.” The funny thing was as I jumped that last time I realized the cushions I was supposed to land on weren’t set right. At 4 1/2 (I turned 5 with the cast on) I remember sitting there considering the risks. The exposed floor was only a small little section. What were the odds I would land on that spot? Not very high I figured and so I jumped. Guess where my foot landed? Lesson learned. My kids have been free-range pretty much since birth (at least inside the house) and now have free-range of our neighborhood and we smile and laugh when we see them climbing trees and pulling stunts and yet, with 4 kids out there playing, we’ve yet to have a broken bone and only one urgent care visit (dd stepped on glass in our yard when she was 6…didn’t even need stitches).

  50. Reminds me of something I saw on Nick Jr. recently. I have a 5-year-old granddaughter, so I watch Nick Jr. a lot. It was one of those “create a game for your child” segments, (because God forbid they should ever create something for THEMSELVES!) and it actually involved creating an INDOOR hopscotch game, using non-stick kitchen drawer lining as the “blocks”–because the poor dears might slip on the carpet! And of course, when the kids were actually playing hopscotch, in the living room, the parent was hanging over the kids’ shoulders the entire time. Forget going out on the sidewalk with chalk, like I did when I was a kid! The little darlings could get hurt! Geez.

  51. Children could ‘fall and hurt themselves’?! Well, that *is* ‘disturbing’.

  52. with the beautiful weather today and a sick infant and sick 2 year old, I let my 5 year old play outside alone for the first time today! I felt all adventurous and free range, but I curbed my worry by opening all the windows so I could hear her and talk to her and telling her to stay on the side of the house where I could see her out the windows.We also had the “how to regard strangers” talk prior to her outing. It was GREAT! She did just fine, and checked in with me verbally, as she wished. She spent hours outside drawing with chalk, playing with sticks, digging in the dirt. I could see her, I could hear her, and nobody molested her! I am SO thankful for a fenced yard!

  53. @SK: “I respect this mom because she makes it clear that she felt that way for her child, and that it was ok for me to make the different choice for mine.” And really, that’s how it should be. If they want to raise their children differently, that’s their choice, but never come down on other parents if they chose to raise their kids another way. Sucks for her daughter though. Parents don’t realize when their kids aren’t allowed to the things are kids are allowed to do, they eventually get picked on, or left out. Which isn’t a good thing.

    @Megan H: It’s like I’ve been saying, I believe most parents do their helicoptering thing to make THEMSELVES feel better, more than for the betterment of their child. Which is really a selfish thing. By the way nice link to those pics. Especially the roof one, and the chimp one. I remember my uncle had a pet monkey he’d bring whenever he visited us.

    @ Dora: I had lite-brite too as well as Radio Shack Pong, and Atari. But even then we still spent most of our time outside, bike riding, playing by the creek, in the woods along the hike trail, even downtown. And yes, we drank out of water hoses all the time. Sometimes when we riding our bikes all day and got thirsty, if we saw someone (anyone) watering their lawn, we’d ask if we could have a drink from their hose. Sometimes, these people (strangers) would just make us some lemonade or give us canned pop. Oh the good ol’days when crime was much higher. lol By the way we are all still alive and healthy, with families, and children that are as confident and smart as we were at that age.

    @Lola: LOL! You can’t argue with logic.

  54. While I certainly applaud the premise of sending kids outside and this does have some reasonable tips, it leaves the nearing to Free Range idea for danger scare.

    I’m presently reading Richard Louv’s book “Last Child in the Woods”. I highly recommend it to all, it’s very free range. The subject is getting kids back into nature. There was a great little story of a mother who let her kids roam a nearby canyon to the shock of others. One worry was rattlesnakes. The woman hasn’t seen one in the canyon in over a decade but the elementary school janitor was constantly killing them in the schoolyard.

  55. My daughter’s K class was supposed to go on a field trip to the park today. She was so excited. But the teacher cancelled the trip this morning. It rained last night (a light shower) and she said the park was “too dangerous” because it rained. The whole park is paved with rubber. No mud, no standing water, so where’s the danger? Even worse, the pre-K teacher didn’t think it was dangerous. So the K kids had to watch the pre-k get on the bus and go to the park. The kids took it better than I did, though. I’m still mad.

  56. @ Vicki: she it was probably that time of month for her, and didn’t want to go on the trip, so used the “too dangerous” excuse. lol Adults.

  57. yes let them play outside. let them figure things out for themselves. My rule is …..please be mindful of cars because they are not mindful of you. When I was a child I played all over the neighborhood. never checked in. Got lunch at a friends house. My Mom didnt always know where I was and I wasnt kidnapped! Of course I have an idea of where my kids are when they are outside. But they are 9 and 7 running around with a group of the same age. but i do not sit outside and watch them. Yup I may be a heathen…we have had multiple broken bones, broken teeth, lots of blood, bruises but that is what happens when kids are being kids.

  58. For various reasons I have an impaired motor function. All I did as a child, it seemed, was to fall down. It was a gateway to more than a few ER-visits but it was necessary to teach myself what and where I needed to do for motor function development. Play isn’t only about the play itself, although essential, it’s also about so many other things on a physical level. Running around outdoors promotes self-confidence AND exercise. I really wonder sometimes why there’s such a surprise that there’s child obesity.

    All this advice might be given in a spirit of good intentions. However, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

  59. Interesting how wide the range of comments is. Betcha it depends on how old your kids are how you feel about the content of the article (not the writing, that’s awful). My kid’s 2. I supervise. I check for dangerous things (some exist!). Then he plays. i’d supervise and check differently if he were older.

    @ madmothermusing — good for you! You shouldn’t feel like you weren’t being a good freerange mom because you supervised by having the windows open and your 5yo within earshot. Isn’t that how it’s supposed to work? You gradually reduce your supervision as your kids mature?

  60. What safety rules *DO* kids need to play outside?

    Look both ways before crossing the street.
    Don’t chase your ball onto the street, look for cars first.

    Most of the rest is stupid fearmongering.

  61. My son got stitches from sitting, doing classroom work. He reached for a crayon, misbalanced, and hit his cheek bone on the edge of the desk resulting in 5 stitches.

    My children have played outside without my hovering for several years. Never more than a skinned knee. Only crying came from giving it a quick wash since he’d rather ignore it and go back to play.

  62. I broke my arm at 5 while playing INSIDE!

    With my kids – almost 13 and 7.5, I let them play outside unsupervised. I get a lot done! And if they get hurt, we deal with it!

  63. @Vicki – last year when my son was in Prep (in Australia that’s the first year of school, kids are usually five, maybe six), they’d planned an excursion to the city. The teacher was going to walk the kids to the tram stop about 1km away and take them in on the tram. Excursion day came and it was raining, really raining. Pouring and stopping, pouring and stopping. So what did she do? Checked with the parents who were dropping the kids off, gathered as many umbrellas and rain coats as she could and walked those kids off to the tram stop in the rain. It was a gorgeous sight. And you know what? A few parents were concerned, but none of the kids got disappointed and no one died of hypothermia.

    I know this is really going back to basics, but what struck me when I read this post by Lenore is how Playing Outside has become a Thing to be promoted or defended.

    I understand that Playing Outside has now become a concept primarily to address the damage being done to our kids by the slow creeping of all recreation towards sedentary indoors pursuits. And I know we’re all aware of it, but I wonder why these ‘Moms Who Think’ apparently aren’t.

  64. In my seventh year, I was in the emergency room twice, broken leg and gash in my head. That’s what I get for riding motorcycles(leg)and swinging from an outdoor high bar(head). It was fun though. My four year old niece broke her leg last year while playing with her Daddy at trampoline world, and my six year old Godson broke his leg riding his razor scooter. Sounds to me like my family is raising them all just right!

  65. We recently fenced our backyard. This means that we now leave our back door open so our dogs and our two-year-old can come and go as they please. Oh noes!

  66. Modern US playgrounds are hardly worth going to if your kid is over the age of 4. The only exceptions I have seen are the ones that have real skate parks nearby or on the same property (CA has many). Even then, that doesn’t fix the actual “play area”. We have been traveling across the US, and so far, have found only one decent playground, and it was an old one that had managed not to be torn down yet. Even MY Mom commented on how dull the play area in her town was, like it was built for kids unable to move much- and it was nice in comparison to others. She suggested building all the fun stuff at home to make up for it. (I swear, Im building an adventure playground if I ever own a yard again!)

    These modern “playgrounds” are defined more by what is NOT there, than by what is! No tall slides, no slippery slides, no monkey bars over 5′, no real climbing equipment, no merry go rounds, no teeter totters, no double swings, no gymnastic style rings, no balance beams. (Even though they are all rubber and soft surfaces! sometimes I wonder if they use mulch and other uneven material so kids can’t run too fast…..)

    They DO have lots of features that NO KID ever uses though! The one in my Moms town had an area with attached “drums” to bang on, but they were plastic and quiet! I was there an hour a day, for over a week so far, and never ONCE saw a kid touch them. How about the spinning numbers- yeah, thats fun, lol. Also common are the super short and slow plastic slides, raised ramps (?- not for wheelchairs, which wouldve been cool) , 3′ climbing walls, etc, etc, etc. SAD.

    Most of the “play” equipment wasn’t used, even when there were LOTS of kids there- it’s so dull they preferred to ignore it and play in the mulch/on grass together instead! What a waste of money and space.

    One playground had a swing set made for physically challenged (right term?) kids- big, bucket seats with 5 point straps, like carseats, to strap in big kids that cannot use regular swings, and a wheelchair swing (very cool!). Sadly, many parents put their not challenged kids on those bucket swings ONLY, because they could be strapped in. sigh. I bet that annoys parents of the kids that need those swings!

    And the amount of parents there with older kids- UGH. They don’t even let their kids play alone, they are on the equipment too! I can see if the parent is just having fun playing with their kid- that’s cool- but that’s NOT what was happening! These parents were hovering So close they were ON the equipment yelling orders.

    I don’t know who designs these things, but when an “under one”, aka my 8 month old, is bored by the slide because it’s SO SLOW and low, that’s a sad day. These places look so cool, but once you get up close you see how very LAME they are. Like a “fun mirage”!!!

    Overall, very disappointing. I think the helicopters have won the playground wars, and made everyone worse off for it.

  67. My daughter plays outside and I never gave it a thought. We live in the city and our building has an underground garage that takes up the whole block which has been the perfect place for all of our kids to learn to bike, roller blade and skateboard on rainy days. When it’s nice out, they play in the street or on the sidewalk on our block. They fall down, they cry, they come in, I give them a band aid and a kiss and they go back out again.

    They started playing at the parks with friends, walking to the mall or taking the bus home when they were about 11 or 12.

    By 12 or 13, they do have creepy guys call out names to them, or ask for their phone numbers. Guess what, the same thing happened to me walking home from school 40 years ago. You ignore the creepy guys and go on with life.

  68. “Wait…are there planned trip to an emergency room?”

    sure. We now need a permit from our GP to visit the ER, thanks to socialised healthcare, in this country. That makes every trip to the ER planned, except those starting with an ambulance pickup after a call to 112 (our 911).

    “Those rules make sense for little kids, like under 5 or so”

    Maybe I’m lucky my parents had a 2 acre garden for me to roam in freely at that age.
    Brambles, nettles, an old chicken coop with rusty nails everywhere, a fishpond with no fence around it, trees to climb in and fall out of.
    Nothing ever happened that couldn’t get cured with some licquorice and a bandaid.

    Few years later I was using a stick to dig dens under fallen trees, and never got killed by caveins🙂

    ” The only thing that scares me at all are head injuries, which is why I’m vigilant about helmet use”

    Most head injuries are just a lot of blood and no permanent harm.
    Even a mild concussion (the worst that will likely happen during play) is harmless.

    I’m far more worried about the braindamage done to children by overly protective parents who raise their children to have no understanding of the real world (and that includes demanding they wear helmets on the swingset).

    ” We can protect the children by having them do nice, safe schoolwork 24/7/365″

    That’s child labour, that’s illegal!
    Instead we should give them a Nintendo as soon as they’re old enough to push the buttons, like my sister did (she gave one to her 3 year old, he’s quite addicted to it now at age 4, can’t go anywhere without it and screams constantly when the battery is dead).

    Me and my sister were unrestricted in our movements (except in one direction, where there was a mental hospital hidden in the woods, we were told not to go there). Yet my sister now forbids her children even to go out and play in her small, walled in garden without her there because it’s “too dangerous”…

  69. Sadly, many parents put their not challenged kids on those bucket swings ONLY, because they could be strapped in. sigh. I bet that annoys parents of the kids that need those swings!

    I don’t know about that. I’ve seen how most kids act with swings like that around – it’s a novelty, so THEY will refuse to take any OTHER swing! Whatever the grown-ups say about it….

  70. Hell wen me and my cuzins were lil we was always outside….either back on the rail road tracks or up on the roof of the house or barn or we would be up in the he loft swinging on ropes….we never had supervision on the farm growin up….we had the whole farm as our playground….that included tractors power tools and also cows….and there was always that one mean ass bull every farm has….lol we never got any injuries that required a trip to th er…..not even on the days we would have bb gun wars……sure do miss being that young….I always will b a kid tho.

  71. […] Read more: Am I the Only One Sickened by The&… […]

  72. I let my three year old climb up the slide…on the play equipment labeled for 5 to 12 year old children. Oh and she’s been playing on the equipment specifically labeled for 5 to 12 year old kids since she was able to walk over to it.

  73. Ah, the voice of Mom ‘n’ Sense.

  74. You need a permit to attend the ER here as well. However, if you break your leg, or fall down unconcious, the ER has to take you on. ERs can’t turn anyone away. I prefer to go to my GP whenever, they have great care these days rather than sit in an ER-triage unit for hours without end.

    “Playgrounds” are becoming more and more boring and they’re impeding joy of learning. THe municipality is “carpeting” the ground under some playgrounds, especially where there’s a significant risk of falling. Most older kids hit the trees around the park the other day. Yesterday I saw two 8 y o high up in a silver birch.

    Falling down is about learning, all though tough but when did children do as told anyway? We all, adults and children alike, seek adventure in one way or another. That doesn’t involve climbing mt Everent for the majority. I’d hate for all that desire to discover to be halted due to “safety concerns”.

  75. “significant” risk of falling. Who decides what’s a significant risk is highly debatable.

  76. @staceyjw – I don’t know what playgrounds you are hanging out in but most of the ones in my town have everything you describe except merry-go-rounds and traditional teeter-totters (the school playground has something similar with a spring in the middle). They also have short slides, etc for little kids. And what some playgrounds don’t have, the kids make for themselves. The playground closest to my house is tiny and is geared toward little kids. It doesn’t have climbing structures, but it does have lots of trees that always gave kids in them and the braver ones climb the outside of the tube slide.

  77. They base there risk factors off the size of the lawsuit the city board advisers warn them against…..can almost see were they are coming from now with everone sueing ppl over the dumbest shyt….seen not to long ago….man broke into a house and fell and broke his leg….he sued the home owner and won…..that’s realy helping to set images for our kidos.

  78. Somebody very ignorant wrote that article. Sitting over schoolwork too much can harm the body and their vision, aside from the fact that it keeps them from practicing important life skills. Whatever! Hopefully most readers will take such extreme views with a grain of salt.

  79. The site should be called Moms Who Think Crazy

  80. In Australia there was a very controversial ad pulled from our tv’s that showed 2 little girls unpacking their recess at school.
    Girl 1 pulls out something home baked.
    Girl 2 pulls out a commercial sugar filled bar and then declares “My mum has a life”
    Obviously the stay at home mums took offence at that…

    I’ve now come to the conclusion that the real reason girl 2 had pre-packaged food was that her mother was too busy supervising her 1001 extra-curricular activities, play dates and trips to the oh, so dangerous back yard and simply couldn’t find 15 minutes to bake anything.
    After all, if the back yard is dangerous, imagine how terrifying it must be for mum to contemplate having her in the kitchen!

  81. I couldn’t resist and had to do my own blog post about that article.

    http://gap-runner.blogspot.com/2011/04/its-dangerous-world-outside.html

  82. I’m rather in agreement with Henry Crun about the fear mongering being social engineering designed to turn independent citizens into perpetual babies who turn to the state for their every need. A fearful populace is a subordinate populace.

  83. Lol, Amber! Maybe the parents could all take a field trip with their kids and check out the inner workings of the ER….you know, since they seem to expect that they’ll have to end up there eventually.

    Who cares if there are dangers as far as kids falling down and getting hurt? Scraped knees and even broken arms are all a part of childhood. The only things that concern me as a parent are life-threatening or extreme injuries. But if my kids are going to get slightly hurt while getting about the business of playing, then I am a-ok with that!

  84. “Children can easily fall and hurt themselves, play dangerous games that result in harm to others, or even become targets for adult predators outside.”

    I actually love this sentence. Even though we all know that kidnappings by stranger-pedophiles is quite rare, I think we can also agree that it is on a totally different scale of “scary things that can happen to a child” than “falling and hurting themselves”. It sort of demonstrates that these people have lost all sense of proportion and view any risk as “too much risk” regardless of how minor or major the actual impact would be.

  85. I work for a community newspaper. I bust my ass every single week to make sure that my articles have things in them that readers can use, that helps them look at the world in a slightly different way. That’s why I despise so much the lazy, fearmongering authors of crap like this who write not to enlighten, but just to get more page views.

    I deliberately didn’t click through because of that, but I’m betting that their ‘advice’ is stuff any reasonable person could come up with after giving the topic a couple of minutes worth of thought. Supervise your kids! Talk to them about stranger danger! Make sure the playground that you take them to has a soft surface! Know what’s age-appropriate and follow it! If anyone’s being unsafe, leave! Don’t let them beat the shit out of each other with machetes! Ugh.

    Actually, that makes me want to write a parody of articles like this…

  86. Good point, freebornjayne. Here’s another thought:

    “Children can easily fall and hurt themselves, play dangerous games that result in harm to others, or even become targets for adult predators outside.”

    Which of these things is not like the others? The one that is a result not of the ups and downs of normal life, or an outside person acting to harm a child, but instead is a factor of your teaching your own kids appropriate behavior and play.

    You need to “protect” against accidents or predators (to the extent that they are genuine risks) but you, through teaching your child, can actually *control* whether they play dangerous games (to the extent that we’re really talking about dangerous stuff, and not just a game where a kid might get knocked down now and then.)

  87. And of course, doing dangerous things that can hurt people is *definitely* not limited to being outside. The whole setup of this article implying that passing through a door presents serious and unique dangers is really disturbing.

  88. Donna- I sure hope I run into some like the playgrounds you go too! We drove from Mexico to Fresno CA, then all the way across to Ohio, and only saw ONE cool playground! And we stopped in every city and many towns to both rest and play. We will be driving to Austin TX next week, so maybe there will be some on that drive?

    I am hoping we just had bad luck, what a bummer to go through life without teeter totters!!!

  89. Loved Megan H link to roof picture. Reminds me of last year when my 6 yo son and 8 yo daughter were playing outside on school break (homeschool). After a while I heard a noise on the roof and went outside to see if a limb had fallen on the roof. No, the kids had discovered how to get on the roof and climb to the chimney. They were told to “Stay right there and don’t move!” while I ran inside to get my camera. Yes, they could have fallen and broken a bone (or worse). However, due to, I believe, lots of independent, outdoor play they climb like mountain goats.

    Although they got a stern warning about the dangers of climbing roofs and “don’t ever do this on the street side of the house because a passerby may call the police, inside I was thrilled they like climbing roofs as much as I did when I was a kid.

  90. KC, you have brought up something that I have been thinking about too. With all this constant supervision that mothers are expected to do, what time and energy is there left not only for work or to do things for themselves but also to do nice things for their children? I’m not talking about supervising and escorting small children here, I’m talking about children who are taller than they are (yes, every day I see mothers escorting children to school who are taller than they are!)

    Home cooking is but one possibilty (please, I’m not suggesting it’s the only nice thing parents can do for their children). But it’s one nice thing that mothers can do for their children and a key thing that people traditionally looked back on with fondness (OK, not always) when they are grown up. What will this generation’s children look back on when they think of their parents? Schlepping, schlepping and more schlepping! Exhausted parents driving to this activity and that activity and endlessly hanging around watching their every move.

  91. And where is this idea coming from that children are less likely to fall over if someone is watching them? Isn’t this what the article says? It’s something that my son’s primary school seems to believe as well. Sample letter: “a number of children have hurt themselves in the playground before school because their parents were not watching them…”
    Stupid parents – and gravity – making children fall over!

  92. Staceyjw, I think teeter totters are largely a thing of the past. Even the ones at my kid’s school (which also has a rock wall, another climbing thing, monkey bars, 6 ft slides, those ring things, a balance beam) are odd. I’ve never seen them in action with bigger kids to see if they are any fun. Now that I think about it the newest playground in town is pretty boring and my kid rarely chooses to go to that one unless she wants to feed the ducks and see the bears. She even prefers the little kid one to it. I never could figure out why until now.

  93. Maybe they should call themselves “Moms who overanalyze to the point they paralyze”.

    I swear it’s the bloody 24/7 media that created this messed up mentality..

  94. Oh geeze, when I was little, if I was playing outside, except for other kids, I was unsupervised. No one died. I DID (we all did) have lots of adventures and learned how to take care of ourselves. One thing I will never forget is to make sure my shoes are tied before riding a bike!

    Something you might be interested in Lenore, kindergartner get suspended for crying in class. I wonder if he would have been expelled if he had peed his pants!

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/the-hot-button/crying-foul-kindergartener-gets-suspended-for-tearing-up/article1963875/

  95. Here is some GOOD news:

    I live next to a large park and my house over looks the baseball field. In front of my house is a tiny ‘forest’ buffering the house across from me from the park. When there is a baseball game, often times siblings of the players LOVE to run around the wooded area and my boys (ages 6 and 8) often join them in their play. Yesterday there was a whole group of boys with ages ranging from 4 to 8, none of whom knew each other before they started playing (with the exception of my two boys who obviously know each other.) The kids had a blast and let the parents of the kids playing baseball be able to concentrate on the game. It was a win-win for all.

  96. So I must be a bad parent then, yesterday i let my boys jump off a 5 metre diving platform, and i didn’t climb up the ladder to supervise them. plus i let them walk out on a dock near a fast river, bad me.

  97. Bad mom confession time, huh? I let my 7y/o boy go around the ‘big’ block by his lonesome, and he plays with OLDER KIDS on age innappropriate equipment, in ways not recommended by the manufacturer……..
    Our first pediatrician (loved him!) told me he worried if he saw kids WITHOUT bruises on their shins and knees……….if they didn’t have them, he said, they weren’t outside playing!

    Tammy

  98. No you are not the only one sickened! This is fear and paranoia disguised in a cloak of holier than thou “intelligent Moms who think.” My kid never gets hurt, therefore I must be the smarter and better Mom! In order to prove this to the world and to myself, I will watch my kids incessantly to make sure nothing bad happens. When oh when did being a good mother come to mean having children who never got hurt?? I just wish someone would explain this to me like I’m a 4 year old….

  99. Honestly I did not find that article that out there.

    I am a huge visitor to playground with my 3 year old twins. I have been taking them since they could walk. It is amazing to think not that long ago I had to carry them up the slides and slide down with them when they were babies and now they are running around all on their own!

    We go to playgrounds all over town and even out of town. Some are safer and nicer than others. There are things you do have to check for. You need to make sure the slides are not too hot which can happen where they get hot enough to actually burn a child. We usually go in the morning in the Summer so that does not happen.

    Most equipment is kept up pretty well around here. I actually wish more parents WOULD supervise their kids on playgrounds!!!!! I have run into many problems of kids being too rough and knocking down smaller children or getting into other kid’s toys etc and it irritates me that their parents are nowhere to be found and/or completely ignorning their kids and the problems they are causing.

    So I am going to have to say I somewhat agree with this article on the supervision part. Once your kids are big enough to play safely you still need to keep an eye on their behavior. Mine can do most of the playground stuff on their own now but I still stand by and keep an eye on them. To make sure they are behaving and that other kids whose parents are not watching them are also behaving.

    I have had to stop kids from stealing our wagon, bicycles, pushing other kids, running over other kids. It gets old that I have to be the playground referee. That is not my job.

  100. Dolly, quick question. Are the kids who are being “too rough” on the playgrounds being properly challenged by the equipment? Or are they much bigger than the ones playing “properly”?

    I’ve found that children in playgrounds that are really, genuinely suited to their age/abilities don’t act “rough”. But when all playgrounds are made for babies….

  101. Stacy: Our playgrounds around here are super cool compared to the ones you must have near you. We have one with a zipline! Our playgrounds are very busy too. Well some are always busy and some are often empty depending on their location but all of them are cool.

    My son always wants to sit in the handicapped swing…..he asks for it and as long as no handicapped kids are around to use it, I let him. So it may be that the kids just want that one. I don’t know why he liked it but he did. I finally told him he is too heavy to pick up and put in there anymore. That actually goes for all the baby type swings. My back is happy about that decision. They would still prefer to swing in the baby swings if it was up to them. So don’t automatically assume it is the parent insisting on them using those. May not be the case. My kids were the ones wanting them.

  102. Dolly, I have a different take on being the referee. When we bring toys to the park, we bring them with the intention to share, that is, if it is a shovel, and my kid is not using it, then another child can use it. I do not feel that the kids are stealing our toys. Same for the wagon, the exercise ball or whatever else we bring.

    I have to agree with others, that older kids need playgrounds suited to them. Last week we were at a park and two girls, of about 13 had a blanket set up over the top of top of the swirly slide. They had dumped water on the slide to use the excuse that the kids couldn’t go down the slide. I cleaned the water off with sand, and then calmly told the kids that they could go down the slide now. The girls glared at me, but gave in. Do I blame the girls for acting a bit bratty? No, because there was NO playground for them. 5-12, yes, but not over 12 unless you play baseball or basketball. Kids over 12 want to race, run, chase, climb and spin every bit as much as the younger kids, yet do not provide equal opportunity playgrounds. These girls would have much rather have been playing on a climbing rock too hard for the little kids, or doing some other thing more suitable for their ages.

    I guess they are supposed to go and hang out at the mall when they turn 13, because that is how our playgrounds are made.

  103. Uly: In one situation it is the little soft playground in the mall for toddlers or babies and some dumb parents let their 10 year olds play in there when it is strictly against the rules. They will be climbing on top of the stuff you are not supposed to climb on like that where if they fell they might land on a small child. They were running where they could or were knocking over small children. The parents just planted their butts on the benches and played with their cell phones or read a book or ran their mouths and would not correct or supervise their child. So that I had to play playground cop and tell the big kids to slow down, get down, watch out for little kids, don’t go up the slide the wrong way, etc. Then the kid would go tell their parent I got on to them and the parent would give me a dirty look! Yes, the nerve of me to get onto your child you were paying no attention to in somewhere they were not supposed to be in the first place!!!!??? I don’t mind the big kids in there as long as they play nice, but many don’t. I have told security on them a bunch too.

    Other times it is playgrounds for all ages and they have every right to be there, but some kids are just bad kids. They would push little kids out of the way on the slide or they would play tag with other big kids and not look out for littler kids and knock them over. That kind of stuff. I want big kids to be able to play too but they have to be respectful of little ones. I actually have been getting onto my kids recently now that they are bigger that that have to watch out for babies. I told them “I made big kids watch out for you when you were a baby and now its your turn to watch out for the babies.”

    I also have kids of all ages that will take the wagon or bikes or toys we brought with us without asking and the mothers either don’t do anything about it or don’t pay attention. I get a lot of caregivers just not paying attention period. I have had to save other small kids from injury because the parents were just not paying attention. Things like a small toddler almost falling off a giant slide or they will get stuck and call for help and I have to help because their own parents are ignoring them.

    I don’t mind helping other kids out. I have worked in childcare my whole life pretty much. I love kids. But I do get annoyed that I am always the one that is watching my kids and everyone else’s kids and I never get the favor returned hardly ever and other parents will actually get mad at me for saying something to their kids who are acting up.

  104. Cheryl: I am not talking about them asking to use the toy or looking at it. I am talking about straight up taking the toys from my kids or straight up walking off with the toy. I had one kid plant himself into my wagon and refuse to get out so I could put my kids in there. His mom sat idly by and watched the entire situation without coming to my aid. I didn’t want to have to physically remove the child from the wagon against his will because that is not my place. I finally had to tell the woman to please remove her child from my wagon and she looked annoyed I dared to speak to her or that she had to get up and come over there.

    Don’t get me wrong, I meet MANY great parents at playgrounds too. Just so many of them drive me crazy. I think this kind of behavior of just being lazy is different from free range. It is more about not putting themselves the parent out and less about doing what is good for their kids and it bugs me.

  105. Dolly, I agree that sometimes older kids are not as careful as they should be when little ones are around. However, I think that’s more because the younger kids’ parents DO over-supervise and miss the opportunity to let the older kids discover responsibility. I’ve seen some close calls when my kids were 2 and playing on the age 5-12 equipment. I didn’t say anything but simply watched their reaction from a bit of a distance. The older kids realized they were being too careless and changed their behavior until the wee ones moved away. I think if you give kids a little credit for caring, that can go a long way. But if that doesn’t work, a well-chosen word or two will usually do the trick.

    I could not imagine requiring my kids to play on the equipment designated for ages 2-5. Even when they were 2, that got old pretty fast. Last year at 3, they would go over there sometimes, but they were frankly too old to be running around in the space where parents were trying to induct their wee toddlers into playground fun. And I am not about to tell my kids that they are not allowed to run on the playground.

    BTW, it’s dangerous for adults to go down slides with kids. Many kids get broken legs from that. They are safer sliding down on their own.

    As for swings, I forbade my kids to use the baby swings from the time they were 2. Before age 3, my eldest could get herself up on the swing and pump it without help. One of our parks does have one of those handicapped swings and my kids tried it once. One of them fell out (because I wasn’t about to hold or strap them in). That was the end of that. I won’t strap a kid in, because I go for a walk while they are at the park, and they need to be able to get themselves down / to the restroom if necessary.

    I do agree with checking a park over before a little one plays there for the first time. Not only for hard surfaces / heat but also for nearby water, thru traffic, and so on. When my kids were 3, the park we went to most often had a creek, and my kids did go over there and play. Which was fine, but I needed to talk to them about playing safely around water, and plan my walk so the creek was in view periodically. There is another favorite park with a “poison ivy” sign on one side – so if your kid can’t read, it’s nice to know things like that.

  106. my bus goes past a playground that I always thought looked so great, until last week when I noticed the big slide had been completely removed. Its barely a playground at all now. In fact I can’t spot anything I’d like to play on… there were already no swings

  107. “Kids over 12 want to race, run, chase, climb and spin every bit as much as the younger kids, yet do not provide equal opportunity playgrounds.”

    Really, because I can’t remember wanting to go to playgrounds in middle school. We were waaaaaay too cool for “baby” stuff like playgrounds by that age. By 13, I was training thoroughbred horses not riding swings.

    My take on your situation is that 13 is too old to be interested in playgrounds at all and the parents weren’t doing age appropriate things with their teenage girls. There are plenty of active things to do for teens but playgrounds are not really the place for them. For example, a rock wall interesting for a 13 year old should probably have ropes and harnesses.

  108. When I was 13 I still loved going on the swings. For that matter, whenever I go to a playground with swings, they’re taken up by young teens.

    Part of the reason teenagers don’t like playing so much on playgrounds, though, is that we build playgrounds for kids younger than 13. They’re sized too small for the older kids and so on. It’s a bit of a chicken and egg problem, isn’t it? If we designed playgrounds suitable for older kids – or had more spaces for kids that age that were public and free (handball or basketball courts, more skate parks, that sort of thing) then they’d use them more, wouldn’t they?

  109. I am reminded that children often quite quickly learn how to assess risk for themselves. Last year while enjoying the fruits of organising a children’s festival (part of a folk festival), I pretended to a couple of 3 year old girls, to eat some of their play dough cakes. I received a severe chastisement about how ill it will make me. Mind you, when I faked my demise, they went back to their play, righteously disinterested. Tough audience.

  110. I wouldn’t want my daughter to think that I will always make sure, on her behalf, the rules of being safe. I intend to educate her about how to assess risk rather than using scare tactics. The more articles as such get published, the more insular we will become.

  111. Wait a minute… who DOESN’T carry an Uzi? 😉
    Or, is the question Pistol vs. SMG?

  112. Perhaps someone could file a lawsuit against mother nature for having a world we co-evolved with but have now moved beyond.

    Yes, that makes little sense…

  113. Donna, that is very nice that YOU had the means to be working with horses when you were 13. Very few people that I grew up with and my kids currently know have the ability to do that.

    Of course, 13 year olds don’t want to play on equipment designed for toddlers or elementary kids. They want stuff that is more exciting and daring. Skate parks are a step in the right direction, but not all kids want to skate board (or their parents think it is too dangerous!)

    What I am advocating for is age appropriate equipment. In my area, with numerous local parks, there is exactly one that has a couple things that teens like. One is a climbing rock that is about 12 feet tall and requires real ability to get up. But again, that is not for non-athletic kids. What I want to see is more stuff like this at local playgrounds (or perhaps the other side of the playground from all the toddlers.) http://www.elephantplay.com/rotating-net-ert1100.php The goal is, to keep kids doing stuff outside, not just playing fake games on a wii.

  114. I am a recovering “Helicopter Parent”, and I know the feeling while watching them at the park… but it wasn’t until I started to back off, I realized I am actually holding my children back!!! The time in life to make mistakes is while they are still young, before they can gain records as adults, and they can by the time they reach 18 find who and what they are?!?!

    I came from a home where there was neglect, so to go opposite felt right, but that happy median is what is going to matter most…

    I urge those that suffocate their children to get to the root of their own problems and what causes them to stifle their children? I know it sounds cliché as calling all atheists as hateful or hurt by religion, but there is roots to hovering over your children… believe it or not. And it makes about the same amount of sense to give it a band aide, as giving a battered woman anxiety and depression pills, instead of getting to the root of the actual issues causing it! My husband teases that the local library is going to red flag my card for all the parenting books I read. But I am not afraid or ashamed to admit I am not perfect and I am still with a 15, 5, and 4 year old learning???

  115. I tend to think that older kids don’t need park equipment as much as freedom and space. They can use these two resources to organize games, run, ride bikes, hike, swim, etc. They can also do chores that use their muscles – snow shoveling, yard work, even laundry and babysitting. They can walk or bike to school and participate in school sports. The only thing I can see them wanting playground equipment for would be to practice things like chin-ups or play basketball. Which should be fairly easy to accommodate.

  116. I just don’t personally believe that playgrounds need to be a fit for every age kid. There is time when you age out of things and I’m fine with that. I agree that wide open spaces to mountain bike, swim, organize games, etc. are what teens want and need.

    I, personally, don’t want stuff that would be of interest to a 13 year old on playgrounds with stuff for my 5 year old. My 5 year old already thinks that she’s 15. If she sees teenagers doing things, she’s going to want to do them and they would be things that she was not physically capable of handling. She is not capable of climbing a 12 foot wall that takes skill but that wouldn’t stop her from giving it a try and falling off. Having that equipment at the playground, would greatly decrease my willingness to allow her to free range at a park.

    And, Cheryl, I didn’t have the MEANS to work with horses. As the child of a 17 year old mother, I lived maybe a step above poverty for most of my life. I did live near a horse farm in my teens and hauled my butt over there and begged them for a job because I was interested in horses. So for the pleasure of riding horses, I got to get out of bed before dawn, walk a couple miles down the road, muck out stalls and do any other gross jobs they came up regardless of weather.

  117. Years ago, when I was interviewing nannies to watch my toddler, I remember one who asked if it was okay for him to get out of the stroller in the park, if he could run around, and if he could get dirty.
    I couldn’t believe the question! Of course was my reply.

  118. Donna, I didn’t say every playground had to be suited for all age groups.

    However, as it is, most places have some playgrounds that are suited for babies and toddlers, and some that are suited for young children, and some that are suited for older children, and maybe one or two that’s good for a mixture of ages.

    Obviously not every area can reasonably accommodate multiple playgrounds, but if your area *can*, why not *also* have a playground with equipment sized and designed for teenagers and young adults? Why not *also* have a playspace that’ll appeal to sports-minded individuals?

    I mean, heck, as an *adult* I like to sit on the swings when my nieces are at the playground! As an *adult* I’d like to sit on a grown-up sized seesaw! As an *adult* – and I’m far from the only one! – I like to go down the huge slide at Teardrop Park or the Billy Johnson Playground, to go through the sprinklers, to do forward rolls on the hammocks at a certain playground in battery park city.

    I see older kids and adults (“for their kids”, they claim, but you can see the lie in that!) doing this sort of thing all the time, but it’s really not sized right for grown-ups, you know. (Excepting those hammocks. I’ll take a pic one day and upload it so you guys can see it.)

  119. Michele, I had a nanny too, and she still comes on Saturday mornings. She babied my kids so much, though I begged her not to. It took all she had to force herself to meet me halfway. Oh, it used to drive me crazy. (In her defense, she’d been a daycare worker in her previous job, and they have a lot of ridiculous regulations.)

    When it was time for us to say goodbye, she told me she’d learned soooo much from me about what kids are capable of if you give them a chance.

    And yet, she still treats my kids like they are tots, and they act accordingly for her. Since she won’t let them walk ahead of her down the sidewalk, etc., they express their independence in unacceptable ways. I just don’t know whom to yell at some days. (Not that I would yell with her around.)

  120. Older kids would use the equipment if it was there for them to use. Golly, put it by the skate park if the parents don’t want their toddlers on it!

    But the fact of the matter is….there is very little in the way of equipment built for teens, unless they come with special equipment, like skate boards, baseballs, etc.! Why do we discriminate against teens when it comes to playground equipment? Adults would use it too, if it was there. I need to swing more, and do more spinning – I used to be able to swing for hours, now that I hardly ever get on a swing, when I do, I feel sick. But, as I get older, and thinking about hip fractures and such, this is going to be more important.

    And really, I don’t care if my kids use the stuff that is for older kids. If they are unable to use it, due to being short, then I don’t help them. If they can climb it, I trust them not to fall. They have done really well with that so far, even when they were toddlers. Yes, I do give some tips – like “”hook your feet under the other bar when you hang upside down.” But I am a strict if you can’t do it yourself, I am not going to help you because you are more likely to get hurt type of parent.

    As a 6 year old, I remember that my father’s college would have a party every summer at a ski resort. There was a ropes course there, and my brother (older) and I had the grandest time doing all the stuff that would be most suitable for adults or teens. No one got hurt. If the kid was afraid of heights, they didn’t climb up it. If they were afraid of falling, they didn’t go across the balance beam set 20 feet in the air. Now, maybe this was supposed to be used with harnesses and such, but I never did find out, because they didn’t have adults from the ski resort supervising.

  121. Okay, let’s be reasonable. How often would a teen or adult use an adult-sized playground? Once or twice until the novelty wore off? I enjoy swinging and sliding occasionally but it’s certainly not something that I would make time to do regularly. Unlike my 5 year old who would probably move to the playground if given the option.

    I’m not even sure what you are putting in this playground to keep teens interested. I’m all for keeping teens active but it seems to me that mountain bike trails, skate parks, paved trails for roller blading/skating, rock climbing walls too high to free climb (or better yet actual rocks to climb), hiking trails, pools, running tracks, fields to play pick up games, basketball hoops, tennis courts and the like are a better fit for regular use by teens and young adults than some adult-sized slides, see-saws and swings.

    We have most of that in our town but it’s not what I would consider a “playground.” I’m not sure if we have mountain bike trails anymore (we used to when my bro was into it but that place is gone) but we have everything else. All except the indoor rock climbing studio is available free or very cheap (2 dollars a visit for the pool). The one thing I’d really like them to put in somewhere would be a ropes course. That would be fun.

  122. “Why do we discriminate against teens when it comes to playground equipment?”

    Ummm, I don’t think we discriminate against teens in playground equipment. Teens are a large market share in the economy. And all the parents who pushed for all the playgrounds for their little kids, are eventually parents of teens. If teens were truly jonesing for playground equipment to fit them, it’d exist.

  123. I’m almost 30 and I still enjoy playing on playground equipment when it is big enough for me. Why do you think the bigger kids wind up the swings so that they’re high enough for them to enjoy? Why do you think they build “adventure parks” with slides and equipment big enough for adults? I totally agree there should be equipment available for teenagers in all playgrounds. There used to be… problem is, it is all deemed “too dangerous” and taken away until we’re left with only the baby stuff, or perhaps not even that……

  124. @Donna, etc – an added note… when I was between the ages of 16-22 it was a regular occurance for myself and friends to spend our friday nights (sometimes right through to sunday) on equipment at a local spot. We had a bbq, gazebo, playground, grass and toilet block and we used to take our food and entertainment (guitars and the like) there and barely move until it was time for school/work the next week. Those were great times… We’d let the littlies play and sit in the gazebo if there was anyone around, otherwise we’d sit on the play equipment all weekend. It didn’t have swings, bu t it did have a good slide.

  125. This is totally off-topic, but there’s a very informative article in the NYT that provides specific examples of things parents (and other adults) can do to help teach teenagers skills that they need to be safe drivers: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/18/new-lessons-to-pave-a-road-to-safety/?hp# .

  126. Some years ago they built some “fitness trail” equipment for adult-sized people. There would be maybe 20 or 30 pieces of equipment with instructions for how to use it to get some kind of workout. Do those still exist anywhere? Were they ever popular?

    I did use the playground equipment when I was a young adult. The monkey bars for pull-ups etc., and I’d swing, after the little kids had all gone home to bed. The parks around me still have enough stuff to use if that was my desire. But I don’t see teens using the play equipment much. More often, I see them playing ball with their friends. And I don’t see this as a problem.

  127. SKL, the primary school across the road from me has just put some of these in to replace their old playground…….. by comparison to the equivalent gym equipment these are useless. Some pieces are difficult for me to move and I don’t use them incase I do myself an injury, other pieces are so easy to use they don’t provide any benefit to fitness at all… a better solution for actual exercise in children would be just a regular playground, swing, monkey bars, etc. The thought of primary school aged children using them is off putting since a gym requires the equivalent equipment to be used by 16+ due to the potential of growing bodies and muscles being damaged unless under specific instruction and supervision by a trained expert.

  128. I am going to have to somewhat agree with Donna here that I doubt there is a big enough market for teenager playgrounds. I was a teenager who mentally matured a bit slower than all the other girls. At 13 I still wanted to play dolls and play on playgrounds and I got made fun of for it too. All the other girl were just into make up and boys and music and shopping. I was still wanting to be a kid. So honestly, I don’t see those girls using a playground suited for their age. I would get made fun of if I was seen using it.

    I enjoy playgrounds and fun stuff like that as an adult. I never really did grow up in that sense. Thus why i had kids so I can have an excuse to relive it all again. I just don’t really think teenager playgrounds would get used that much. Teenagers get exercise through school sports or activities and they are busy with shopping, dates, media, jobs and schoolwork the rest of the time, nor would it be considered “cool” to play on the playground at that age.

  129. About two years ago, my son, then 6, needed to spin. He had sensory issues, and the occupational therapist said he should spin as needed. A rope swing in the back yard worked well.

    Then we went to a park. There was a tri-corner seat, on a pole at seat height, and the pole was set at an angle instead of 90 degrees from the ground. My son loved it, and, as my husband is the kind of guy who can make things, I tried to find a copy online for him to replicate.

    I didn’t find it. But I did find some really cool play structures (Germany and Japan, as my memory goes) that were made for tweens and teens. Things to hang on and spin each other. Tottering things. Climbing things that were more challenging than the normal 6 foot things most parks have. And the reviews of these parks was great. Families with older kids loved them.

    Here in the US, well, one park near us has a climbing rock that is near impossible for most kids to get up, and is about 12 feet tall, and has options for hanging upside down if one chooses. When we are there after school, there are generally teens on it, and on a spinning thing and a seesaw type thing. In Monterrey, CA the Denis The Menace Park has some things that appeal to older kids – 50 foot slides, about 50 feet of 15 feet high climbing wall of various difficulties. Also, there is a full size (maybe even oversized?) train steam engine that kids can climb on every part – and parts are about 15 or more high. Granted, when I was there it generally was during school hours, but there seemed to be some tweens and teens there (homeschooled or on vacation) who were playing on the structures. Oh, and the tire swing – every park that has a tire swing or zip line in some form has teens using it when out of school. (They wait in line and help the little kids!)

    I always loved climbing. Trees, monkey bars, rope courses. At least one of my sons is the same way. Climbing walls here (other than the one at the park) mean membership at a gym, which we cannot afford, or $15 an hour, which is still not affordable. My youngest is like me. If there is no equipment to get on, he will find trees. Park managers really hate it when kids (and adults) climb the trees. I don’t see this love of climbing changing by the time he is 13 and officially too old for the equipment and the majority of the parks.

  130. Found a story you might be interested in:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-13117707

    I want my kid to go to the primary school they mention at the end of the article.

  131. I’m 42 and can flip off the monkey bars. One time I did it while playing with my daughters and a little boy came up to me and said: “I didn’t know parents could do things!”

    Priceless.

  132. Disney said it best:

  133. Well, Dolly, Donna, this whole conversation started because we were talking about kids who had aged out of the playground equipment still using the playground.

    So I’m not really sure why you think, if there were equipment sized for older kids, it’d still be stigmatized now as “baby stuff”.

    As for “I don’t think there’s a market for that”, well, I disagree. These things are municipally funded. Teenagers don’t vote, they rarely pay taxes, and kissing them doesn’t get you re-elected. Even if there IS a market for that, the people paying for this are unlikely to see it, or, if they do, to prioritize it.

  134. they are without a doubt the moms who think way to much, I have seen some of the comments on facebook and they are ridiculous!

    Sometimes you just have to let kids be kids, and hope for the best…. otherwise we can bubble wrap them

  135. There is a difference between a 12 year old and a 15 year old. Never seen 15 year olds on a playground unless they were there babysitting a kid or with a younger sibling. I have seen them hanging out at playgrounds but not using the equipment or playing ball etc. When I was complaining about big kids running over little kids I was referring to 10 year olds in a playground for toddlers which was against the rules. Or 11 or 12 or 10 etc year olds being too rough and pushing, running into smaller kids at playgrounds for all ages.

    All kids should be able to play but they need to watch out for others especially smaller children. That is a good life lesson for kids to learn. Watch where you are going, be respectful of others, etc. I don’t think it will stifle their creativity or their spirit to have to slow down a bit if small children are playing nearby or wait a couple seconds longer for the little kid to go down the slide before you barrel down it and push the little one out of the way. Two things I have seen happen to my kids and other little kids.

  136. Meant to add that is why I originally commented that supervision is a good thing on playgrounds and I encourage it. The moms of older kids need to be watching to make sure their kids are being careful with the little ones because it is not my place to scold other people’s children who push or run over my kids. I get tired of being playground cop and I get tired of being the only mom paying any attention to what is going on.

    I am not a helicopter on the playground. I stand back and let them play. But I still keep an eye on things and get involved if I need to. I expect other parents to do the same.

  137. I agree that we as parents need to teach our kids to watch out for younger kids. I have been working on this for years. Unfortunately, my kids don’t always remember to watch where they are going or try to predict what a little one will do. They are pretty good, but I can’t guarantee that they won’t accidentally bump into a little one at some point. Thankfully, though, little ones are not as fragile as some parents think they are.

    When my kid was 2, she fell flat on her face from a height of about 3.5′, on wood chips. I was horrified (I was right there, just didn’t see it coming). Kid got up, brushed herself off, and climbed back up to “try again.” Since then, I have trusted them to pretty much do what they want at the park, on their own, as I check in from a distance (I take a walk around the perimeter and glance over from time to time).

    Kids act a lot differently if parents are right there. For one thing, they are more likely to ask for help with things they can do on their own. To act needy, scared, helpless, and also less collaborative with peers. I don’t like to encourage that kind of thinking or behavior. So that is one of the reasons I back off, the other reasons being that they don’t need me, and that I need some exercise myself.

  138. Saw this article this morning about the dangers of wiffle ball and freeze tag:
    http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Freeze-Tag-Red-Rover-Deemed-Dangerous-in-New-Summer-Camp-Regs-120195644.html

  139. BTW, in the rare instance that my kid collides with another child or tramples on his/her rights, I don’t just let it go. I take it very seriously and, if my kid should have known better, I punish so they will remember. But I still treat it as their responsibility first to pay attention and be considerate and careful.

  140. Darn it, Gretchen, you beat me to it!

    Or, as we say over elsewhere, I’ve been ninja’d!

  141. Has anyone noted that most instances of child abuse take place indoors, not out?

    And that falls and accidents in one’s own house are extremely common?

    Hmm, sounds like kids are SAFER out of doors!

  142. SKL: You are doing what you should then. That is all parents need to do is make sure their kids know and understand to watch out for little ones if they are about and be careful around them. Same goes for if there is a disabled or special need child around. Compassion and all that.

    If you are not sure you child can handle that, then you need to hover a bit and make sure they do so. If they have proved in the past they know how to act, then you can back off and even send them to the playground alone or whatever. Till then you will have to supervise.

    Its common sense but a lot of parents either don’t care how their kid acts as long as they are not bothering them at the moment or they just are so unobservant they have no clue their child is not being good.

    I had a great experience at the park yesterday! A sweet mom was there with her little boy that was younger than my boys. Other than that not a lot of people there. She was playing 3 billy goats gruff with my kids and hers and they had a great time. I actually got to sit for a second while another parent played with my kid! Usually its the other way around. I still paid enough attention to make sure they were nice to the smaller boy so that mother did not have to reprimand someone else’s kids.🙂

  143. I thought I’d tie together the last two posts. Last night at the park my son, 2.5 years, crashed and burned and smacked his head on one of the poles holding the swings. I knew instantly it was “bad”, as he leads with his head a lot I have experience judging the severity of his falls. Almost instantly it looked like he had a golf ball trying to break out of his forehead.

    Once we got home my daughter had a great idea, she suggested we give him a “magic lollipop” that would make his head feel better. He picked out a grape dum dum and wouldn’t you know it, the magic lollipop worked. Halfway through and he felt better.

  144. I disagree Uly. My town has a skate park because of the actions of KIDS, not adults or voters. They wanted a skate park. They talked to the county commissioners. They went commission meetings. They got supports and they got their park. And, again, kids have parents still at 12. If your argument held water, we would have no playgrounds at all because 5 year olds are less influential than 12,year olds.

    And actually this discussion came up because there were older kids on a playground NOT playing. They appeared to be sitting around making a nuisance of themselves. If it erred kids whowere trying to use equipment but didn’t fit, I’d be more convinced of a need for bigger equipment

  145. Donna, I’m not scrolling back up to find it, but I believe the comment said the kids were “running around” and knocking other children down, that sort of thing? Now you’re saying they were sitting around?

  146. At any rate, here’s the situation.

    Several people have said they would’ve liked something like that as an option when they were teens or preteens. You’re saying that’s absurd. Are you calling us all liars?

  147. Everyone is silly in their own way.

    My Grandpa would let me play outside entirely unsupervised for hours on end, when I was as young as six (maybe younger, I can’t remember). Even though he knew I would spend at least 80% of my time on the swing. Which was the coolest swing ever, as it was a square wooden platform hanging on iron tubes, not the usual chains, which allowed it to swing full 360 degrees (which I have been scared to do, never went for more than 270 degree swing). He would just come out on the balcony to tell me it was time for lunch or dinner and go back inside.

    But at the same time, he insisted on putting chairs up against the couch on which I napped lest I fall down (all of two feet, if not less, it was one low couch), up to the age of 10 or 11. I thought it was weird and unnecessary, but I have never met anyone able to outstubborn Grandpa… Even if I happened to just fall asleep while he was otherwise occupied, I invariably woke up to find the chairs there.

  148. Unplanned trips to A&E? I wonder who plans trips to those places?! My ‘baby’ (10) is in plaster again, having broken an arm for the third time, this time rollerblading unsupervised while her evil mother was off getting her cello seen to. 11 year old sister calmly rang me, and arranged younger (and actually bigger, physically) sister to keep her arm up at an angle to prevent excess pain. That, and only took us an hour and a bit in the hospital to get it all seen to! All part of life…..

  149. I am currently a 17-year-old boy in Tulsa, OK. Understandably, most of my playground experiences were with the new plastic stuff. Back when I was 4 years old I often went to Whiteside Park, which had a mix of fiberglass and painted wood. I remember a boy named Joe who used to be there many times… he could swing really high on the swings which were still the old chain kind (albeit with a plastic/rubber seat; and they were only 8 or 10 feet tall). AFAIK they still have the same equipment today, including the plastic 10-12′ straight and steep slide (not too many slides are straight anymore). Another park, Darlington, had and still has all-metal equipment (though it’s a really small structure). However, LaFortune is the one I want to write about here. As late as 10 years ago they had old wooden equipment (with metal slides and bars). I remember some very high monkey bars (maybe 8 feet?), a swinging bridge (had to be pretty small… maybe 10′ long tops), and 3 slides, each bigger than the other (top one was maybe 10 feet). Back in 2000 or 2001 or so they changed to new plastic equipment. At the time I was very excited since they had changed from a relatively small structure to two large ones. In 2004 I had the opportunity to visit a playground untouched by litigation-fearful government. My great uncle was about to pass away, and the family took a 1-day trip to Aurora, MO, to see him one last time. Apparently not wanting me to see him in his poor condition, my mom found a playground and told my dad to play with me there (I was 10 at the time). That is an experience I will never forget… there were an old-style metal seesaw, a metal merry-go-round, and a very steep metal slide that had to be at least 15-20 feet tall. Being accustomed to plastic all my life, I was at first afraid of the big slide. From what I recall I eventually got on it and loved it… as well as the other stuff there. From what I see on Youtube some places still have this old-school equipment… but they are mostly in other countries (Germany pops up a lot). After reading this article I realize what has truly become of society today. This is not simply a problem with playgrounds, it extends to all aspects of daily life. The American legal system is becoming too constricting to organizations, often doling out six-figure amounts for accidents that deserve more reasonable payments of zero to four figures (case in point: Liebeck v. McDonald’s Restaurants 1994, aka the Coffee Case). Though consumers may think they are getting a better product from the additional regulations, they are the ones who are really paying for them. Thus the governments force unintended mandatory “insurance policies” upon the people… businesses have to pay more and skimp on the product to meet regulations, and the consumer ends up paying for a few people’s troubles in the form of increased prices or inferior products. Change needs to occur in the law schools before it can occur on the playground.

    If you are older (or have relatives living in rural communities), you may remember the slides and swingsets being bigger than they are today. Many probably tell you that “you were smaller, everything was big”. In most cases they’d be right. However, in this one solitary case, I can confidently say that they are wrong and you are right. While I’ve never (as far as I can recall) seen a 12-16′ swingset, there are [hard-to-find] pictures that prove that they existed. As for the slides, just read my post. Despite the extreme difficulty in finding pictures, I am absolutely certain that they existed (and still do, though straight slides of all kinds over 8 feet are a dying species).

    One particular piece of playground equipment that intrigues me due to its unique history is the Giant Stride. Unlike most playground equipment, these were mostly removed in the 1950s, long before the Age of Litigation began circa 1984 (date chosen on purpose). Google “980 playground equipment” and read the comments on the blog to see more about this intriguing piece of equipment… sure it was probably the most dangerous piece, but it was also the most popular in places that had it. Supposedly Sunrise Park in Paris, Illinois, still has a couple (unless they were removed after the 2008 ruling that any park with one automatically loses any lawsuit related to playground injuries, regardless of the scope of the injury and regardless of what equipment actually caused the injury)

    Here’s a link (remove spaces from link): http : // www . parisillinois . org / index . php ? option=com_content&view=article&id=128&Itemid=148

    If they’re still there, anyone care to go and take a video for Youtube?

    Also, just something I’m curious about. After reading many comments on blogs, I get the feeling that kids back then were more resilient than kids today. Kids back then could fall four feet without it hurting much, and eight feet without getting more than a scraped knee, maybe a sprained wrist at the worst (and often these high falls of 10′ or so were from the aforementioned Giant Strides). Kids in the old days used to jump from 10-foot barn roofs for fun, and one particular comment on another blog described kids purposely jumping down 20-30 feet to slightly inclined ground and getting little more than a sprained ankle. I don’t know how they did it… there wasn’t a secretly required Parkour class in elementary schools back then, was there?

    One example of the last paragraph can be found in these pictures (the sand is supposedly a few inches deep at most… definitely not enough to pass today’s standards for that kind of jump):

    http : // a5 . sphotos . ak . fbcdn . net / hphotos-ak-snc1/4583_85593368861_639953861_2007092_8324144_n . jpg

    http : // a7 . sphotos . ak . fbcdn . net / hphotos-ak-ash1/19355_1333485145994_1497022124_921218_6270406_n . jpg

    http : // a4 . sphotos . ak . fbcdn . net / photos-ak-snc1/v2588/2/18/710507810/n710507810_1954871_5517785 . jpg

    Pictures from “I played at Dennis the Menace Park and lived!” group, remove spaces from links.

    The current Dennis the Menace Playground appears to be a very toned-down version of the old one. I wouldn’t quite say that it’s now only a super-large cookie-cutter playground (which wouldn’t really be the worst thing in the world… most places are not as big as that), but it’s definitely nothing like it was. If someone [rich] were to combine the new and old elements into one park, I’m sure the resulting park would become very popular with kids from around the nation (USA that is). Only thing to worry about would be the lawsuits… and maybe local building codes, though one could conceivably build one in a small town that doesn’t have such stringent regulations.

    Part of the reason the Dennis the Menace Playground was so famous was 1. Its creator was well-known, 2. It was HUGE (one of the biggest playgrounds in the nation, still is pretty big; Hank probably created it as a place that even a super-active kid like Dennis [both the real one and the fictional one] would like), and 3. The likely reason that it maintained its fame through the years is that it was not touched by litigation-fearful people until much later than most playgrounds (the Helicopter, essentially a safer version of the Giant Stride in that both are basically large merry-go-rounds that are high off the ground, was the first thing to go in 1988). One final thought: Watch for some truly innovative (or possibly even retro-throwback) designs in the future. Most things go in cycles (it is simply human nature for people to always be dissatisfied about something… and people tend to get in a hurry and over-correct), and the current downtrend has been particularly vicious (kids are staying inside due to “stranger danger” [stranger abductions are actually lower per capita than they were in the 70s and staying inside with a friend’s parents is statistically MUCH more likely {depending on the math used it could be millions of times more likely} to result in sexual molestation than going outside is since most molesters go after someone they know, also kids are much more likely to be killed in a car accident than abducted], playgrounds are being downsized and boring-ized for the sake of “safety” [in actuality the car ride to the playground is much more dangerous than even the oft-cited playgrounds of the 1920’s… the walk to the playground is a different story though😉 ] and coincidentally [or not], childhood obesity is at its highest since records began… the last point may become the impetus for an upswing). Among those wanting to start the uptrend is Lenore Skenazy, called “America’s Worst Mom” by the paranoia-mongering media (both the conservative FOX and the liberal MSNBC applied that title to her). IMO it is just a matter of time until somebody rich en0ugh to call lawsuit settlements “pocket change” connects the dots (parenting change + playground change = weight change) and starts to actually do something about it. The kids of today will become the adults of tomorrow… and the kinds of adults these kids will become would likely support a very dramatic upswing if they would only hear from someone who could tell them that their kids don’t have to be like they were. Someone like Lenore Skenazy.

    The preceding monologue was copied from a couple of posts I wrote for a comment on the Playgroundology blog (though I have posted an outdated version of that on many blogs, including this one).

    Much of the discussion on this comments thread seems to have shifted to whether playground equipment suitable for teenagers and adults should be built. Looking at pictures from the past (the previously mentioned Dennis the Menace Park FB group), I get the impression that all ages from around 4 to 13 were frequently seen at the non-kiddie areas of DTMP (current playgrounds mainly cater to ages 3-9). Older teenagers were rarely seen there (in fact, the only pictures in that group where the person is unquestionably 14-22 years of age were taken in the last decade… then again, picture quality was not that great back then, so the facial features of kids in the background cannot be identified well; plus it is usually parents of younger children who take pictures at playgrounds [outside of the recent ones which were for “retro appeal”], pretty much ruling out a teen sighting in the foreground). Having said that, I must respond to the question of playground equipment that is meant for teens with an emphatic YES. The line of reasoning is such: Current playground equipment, designed for kids ages 5-12, sees ages 3-9 instead (and an occasional 10-year-old, rarely 11 or older unless they have younger siblings or the park is older [“older” usually means pre-1984]). Design something with ages 11-17 in mind, and you will likely see ages 8-13 frequenting it. I do agree with the point that ages 15 and older will never be nearly as commonly seen as 12 and younger, but why exactly do they have to be? Right now most newer playgrounds are becoming “uncool” or “boring” even with 10-year-olds. The point is to make a playground that truly is for older kids (6+) and not the “5-12 in name only” ones we see so much today… and right now it seems the only way to do that is to tell the architects to design for ages 11-17. So, when will the next Hank Ketcham come up to the plate and dare to swing for the fences? We are sick and tired of base hits… it’s been way too long since we’ve seen a real home run.

  150. I think these parents would have a heart attack if they found out what we did as kids. I think I fell out of every tree in the valley behind our house. The valley where we played by ourselves from around the age of 4 with only older siblings watching us ( the oldest was 9) We played in the river, we went bike riding 8 km each way by 9 yrs old. I got hit in the face with a swing and bit my tonge in half ( they were wood back then not rubber) , Got pushed off the top of the old metal slides that had the bump in the middle. I walked to school with my sister in grade 2 she was grade 5!
    I let my son play in our fenced front yard by himself or with frineds ( the dog is with him). I purposly didn’t fix the squeaky gate so I can hear if it is opened. He knows if he EVER leaves the yard without permission he will be grounded. I encourage him to talk to the neighbours, even the single guy with no kids. We say Hi to people walkig down the street because knowing your neighbours is what makes a neighbourhood safer.

  151. Regarding the argument, playgrounds for older ones, pro or con: How about older as in elderly? Germany has started opening playgrounds for seniors.
    http://www.gearability.com/2007/07/24/playgrounds-for-older-people/

    According to the article, seems as if the old folks in Berlin don’t want the teenagers either. Where are they supposed to drink their beer?

    I recognize the exercise machines (linked in article) from a playground in the German town I live in. No age restrictions there, though. Open to one and all. And yes, it was fun to use the machines while the little one played.

  152. This kind of thing is just starting for me. I have a ten month old who is getting ready to walk soon. She pulls herself up on things, cruises along them, and will sometimes let go for short periods of time and just stand there. She knows how to climb up steps (of course I keep my hand right behind her as she does, but I don’t help her). Sometimes, it’s scary for me letting her do all of this because when she wobbles or looks like she’s about to fall, all I can imagine is her falling and banging her head into something. But as scary as it is for me, I know I have to let her do it. And as much as I want to catch her everytime she tumbles (not that I would ever be fast enough), I know that pain is a great teacher and she’ll never figure out how to navigate her world SAFELY if she isn’t allowed to make mistakes. I think the only ones we are really protecting by being so paranoid and helicopter-ish are ourselves. We are protecting ourselves from having to be worried or afraid for our children. If we watch them constantly and bubble wrap their world we won’t have to ever feel that pang of fear and anxiety that something bad could happen to them.

  153. Merde man I’m 15 and I don’t remember bs like this maybe I didnt go outside enough but rather frightening to see how things change
    Ps I’m going though the archive I recently heard of this from a tv show called bullshit

  154. It is important for kids to use sun protection and it is also important for kids to get out into the sun. The sun helps the body synthesize vitamin D. A great place for kids to get outdoors during the summer is a summer camp. Visit http://worldofdiscovery.org for more information.

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