Play or Decay, Kids!

Hi Folks! Here’s a spankin’ new study that won’t surprise you:

Children who spend more than three-quarters of their time engaging in sedentary behaviour, such as watching TV and sitting at computers, have up to nine times poorer motor coordination than their more active peers, reveals a study published in the American Journal of Human Biology.

The study, involving Portuguese children, found that physical activity alone was not enough to overcome the negative effect of sedentary behaviour on basic motor coordination skills such as walking, throwing or catching, which are considered the building blocks of more complex movements.

“Childhood is a critical time for the development of motor coordination skills which are essential for health and well-being,” said lead author Dr Luis Lopes, from the University of Minho. “We know that sedentary lifestyles have a negative effect on these skills and are associated with decreased fitness, lower self-esteem, decreased academic achievement and increased obesity.”

The authors added that kids they studied — random kids, that is — spent about three fourths of their time being sedentary. Remember this when people look at you askance for letting your kids walk to school or spend time at the park without you. If you have to supervise them all the time they’re outside, they won’t be outside that much because — face it — adults have other things to do with their time. Let them OUT and you are being a GOOD parent, helping them develop the motor coordination they will need their entire lives. So THERE!  – L.

58 Responses

  1. Tell that to the Australian schools that won’t allow any activity that involves running or touching.

  2. Amen Sister!!! I had to tell that to my kids. They used to refuse to go outside unless I went with them. I always heard “there’s nothing to do” or “its boring”. I told them only boring people are bored, and we live in the country, so there’s plenty of things to explore. I told them to go get dirty, ride their bikes and explore, climb a tree for goodness sakes. I just about had to outlaw tv because it truly does kill their imaginations. I never had to have anyone tell me to go outside when I was little. As soon as I was out of the bed, I was out and stayed there unless I needed to eat or it was bedtime. The over-coddling of kids is killing the fun of childhood!

  3. I have seen the evidence of this at work. Before I opened my own shop, the company I was with would hire summer students, and what a disappointment it was.
    My good friend there, a diesel mechanic and I have talked about this. The kids had no idea on what their bodies were capable of.
    One of the other issues was they honestly felt that if a task required exerting their muscles, that they didnt have to do it.

    awombatsweb, I would be taking issue with the school boards on this no running or touching. That policy so retards the natural growth and instincts. Get your doctor involved, get the papers involved, get popular athletes involved. The athletes and their governing bodies would probably love to help. Let’s face it, if kids do not run in school how will they become athletes?

  4. This is exactly why we do not have TV in our house. Our free time is used by catching up on other chores or reading or doing fun outdoor activities. The act of getting the tv out of our life has blessed my wife and I in our health, relationship, and productivity. If it helps adults that much, getting rid of the TV will definitely help kids. They need to go out and play instead of sitting there watching tv or some other lazy indoor activity.

  5. Schools are a huge problem when it comes to sedentary behavior. Even if they do encourage and allow kids to run around at recess, that’s still less than an hour of recess time compared to seven hours of sitting at a desk. And my daughter loves to get up and MOVE, I wish there were ways for schools to let them to that. I have heard of some teachers that make the kids run and jump around during the day, but of course, parents complained. Makes me crazy, and is enough to make me wish I could home school!

  6. Yeah, we don’t do TV either, except as a special occasion. There is always something to do that involves moving or thinking, so what is the need for passive entertainment?

    I do have a pet peeve about this though. What exactly is meant by “nine times poorer”? (I guess I’ll have to read the link and see if they explain it.)

    One of my kids prefers to be sedentary and I’ve been pushing her to move since she was an infant. The cause and effect are not clear. I think she was born with a body that isn’t conducive to a lot of movement. I’ve been told she seems to have low muscle tone and flat feet. Now this is a kid who walked 1-2 miles per day, up and down hills, at age 1.5; has been in coached activities 5-6 days weekly for years; spends hours weekly at the park/pool; and has very little screen time. Given free rein, she’d rather read, play the piano, or play with her doll castle or on the computer. So if I let her choose her own activities for a week and someone did a study on her, they’d conclude that she’s a gimp because she’s inactive. But maybe she prefers to be inactive because she’s a gimp? Or maybe both are caused by some basic wiring she was born with. The same may be true of others. (Not that that’s an excuse to let our kids veg.)

  7. I was thinking just yesterday, though, that I should probably play catch with my kids so they don’t end up with the tracking problems I had once they are old enough for sports. (Though that isn’t exactly a free range concept.)

  8. Guess no one wants to win the olympics anymore…or even participate…

  9. SKL, I’ve been trying to play catch with my kids for that very reason. I don’t really want them in competitive sports, but I want them to have some of the basic skills I lacked as a kids so they can enjoy PE and pick-up sports, and not look like an idiot like I did. At least I had dance, or I probably wouldn’t be able to walk straight (my interests were a lot like your daughter’s).

  10. ” If you have to supervise them all the time they’re outside, they won’t be outside that much because — face it — adults have other things to do with their time.”

    However, maybe if adults DID enjoy more time outside being active along with our kids, we would be healthier as a whole and there wouldn’t be a need for expensive gym memberships and fancy exercise equipment to do the job we could do for free.

  11. Right on, Lenore!! But it’s not just motor control! Fresh air and exercise are absolutely necessary for kids for reasons that are so basic to human health and wellbeing that doctors are calling for exercise to be placed alongside pulse and respiration as basic life signs. Fresh air and exercise help with immunity, ADD/ADHD, depression, anxiety, heart disease, asthma, cancer……even myopia! The list goes on and on. Not only that, but communities full of people who are outside in green spaces have lower crime rates (and crime is already on the way down, so that’s significant!)

    I expand on all of these points and others, here: http://natureofnurturing.wordpress.com/2012/07/10/ten-things-our-grandparents-got-right-6-fresh-air-and-exercise/

  12. Debra, I agree with you. I try to get some exercise while my kids are playing at the park or pool, or even go for a walk with them in the neighborhood; this is generally the only sustained exercise I get. I think that it sends them an important message when I say we ALL need to get exercise, fresh air, and sunshine. I usually don’t play directly with them, because I think it is age-appropriate for them to separate from adults during free play. So I’ll go for a walk while they do their thing. It never feels like a waste of time.

  13. The study talks about kids being sedentary roughly 75% of the time on average. What do they mean by that? Are they including sleeping time? I assume they are including school hours. What about the time we spend eating or playing an instrument? In short, how do we know if our kids are spending too much time being “sedentary” so we can do something about it if they are? Surely they aren’t saying we need to be running around more than 6 hours of every day.

  14. @Brenna – how old is your daughter? Depending on her age, you might want to see if there are any accredited Montessori schools in your area. There is a lot of movement in the classroom, in addition to recess and gym time.

  15. SKL, good point. Was this 75% of all time? waking hours? free time? The study didn’t really clarify. :/

  16. SKL,
    Whether or not the study included sleeping, eating or whatever, all you have to do is look around. Kids are just not doing as much as previous generations.
    Instead of walking or riding bikes to hang with friends, they do it online chatting. Even if they go to hang with their friends, a parent is usually driving them.
    Also you can talk to a doctor if you doubt this next statement…..An activity done or a regular basis, at the same amount of exertion and at the same pace everytime loses it’s exercise value over time. As our bodies become accustomed to it. So although that walk to school and back may be some exercise it is not nearly enough.
    Exercising the mind is just as important, and reading is good, but does not work the mind such as problem solving and creativity. I encourage my kids to take on crosswords, word searches, and suduko whenever they can. Alot of these can be done on line.
    My youngest, my son if given his choice would be infront of a playstation or TV all day long. He doesnt have that choice. There is play time with the dogs, mandatory. Dog walks, mandatory. When his buds are over, they must split their time between outdoors and indoors, mandatory. After awhile, it didnt have to be mandatory. He found out that these times were fun and goes on his own now.

  17. SKL, I share that peeve. How one multiplies something to get less of something always escaped me, but you hear it a lot. What they presumably mean is “1/9 as rich,” but “nine times poorer” doesn’t make sense.

  18. Do they mean 900% ?

  19. WOW!!!!!!!!!!
    Get off of the mathematics, people. The essence of the article is true. It is only logical, the less time spent doing physical activities as a child will present itself later on in life.
    The old arguement that video games aids in developing co-ordination is bunk. Unless it is for the purposes of speed texting.
    Do not even try to justify Wii as exercise. you don’t have the weight of the racket, the ball or the ground covered, as you do when you actually get out and do it.
    Ask any serious athlete and they will tell you that as good as stairclimbing and treadmills are, as an aid, they cannot substitute for the real act of climbing stairs or running or walking. Out in the real world exercise requires your muscles to make thousands of small adjustments with each step. Why, because the ground you step on next is not identical to the one you were just on.
    There is no substitute for good old fashioned activity, and no one can deny that the more you do, the better off you are.

  20. Sure, it sounds logical, but the description of the research just doesn’t make sense to me. They said the amount of activity didn’t matter. How that works is beyond me. I mean, in any given moment, you are either active or you aren’t, right? Is there a gap between “not active” and “sedentary”? Maybe. It’s not explained.

    I of course didn’t need a Portuguese study to tell me that sitting around all day isn’t good for kids. I just can’t figure out what they are actually saying. Are they saying that if my kid has 2 hours of screen time, he’s screwed regardless of whether he spends the next 2 hours running or reading? That’s what they seem to be saying.

  21. @Warren, agree with most of what you are saying, except for the Wii part. It might not have the weight of the racket etc, but it does require then same amount of actual movement, and has been an absolute boon for the elderly etc. And for an unco like me who absolutely hates organised sport of any kind (honestly, could anything possibly be more boring than hitting a ball, chasing a ball, running after a ball…..the list goes on and on!), things like the Wii at least involve motion, and if you’re playing a violent game with your adolescent, a lot of fun. I don’t actually have one, of course, preferring to walk as exercise and smell the roses etc, but just saying….:-).

  22. I’ve resisted the Wii rage, mainly because I just don’t like electronics. It does seem to be better than sitting around. It may not be as good as a hike through the woods, but not everyone has the opportunity to go hiking every day.

  23. From what I understand there are some good exercise programs for Wii, but as for it requiring the same amount of actual movement…..NO WAY.
    I highly doubt that the area in front of your TV is equal to a regulation tennis court. You cannot compare Wii to the real thing for someone without physical limitations.

    You would be better off taking a real racket and balls, and just playing against a wall outdoors. Wii is not the same, and never will. As a matter of fact, Wii will more than likely retard children. Team sports and memberships, and the like promote social skills, team work and a sense of belonging. I highly doubt that those things can be written into the software of a video game.

  24. Wii is not the same as the real thing. Wii is better than nothing. Playing tennis against a wall is great — on a nice day, if you have a good wall and cement/hard clay area (neither things that I currently have). But it is not nice everyday and my kid has no interest in being outside when it’s pouring.

    Wii should not be a replacement for outside play but there is no reason that it can’t supplement. We don’t have one but my daughter likes the dancing games and is much more likely to do that than to turn on the radio and dance and dnace around the room.

  25. I never said Wii was bad. As entertainment it is fun, and the kids should enjoy it. I was only responding to the comment that Wii requires the same amount of movement. For the dance and actual exercise programs you can do it. But there is no way in you know what that you move the same amount, or get your cardio up the same as real tennis, baseball, hockey, bowling or any of the other sports.
    For the elderly or physically handicapped Wii for exercise is probably a great tool.
    As for the rain, we played baseball, football, road hockey, and many other things in the rain. Not made of sugar and ain’t gonna melt. My kids still get their dog play time and dog walks in, no matter what the weather.
    No such thing as too cold, too windy or too wet in our family.
    Former mom in law took issue with the kids playing in the rain…..guess what she lost. First she was told to mind her own business once again, and when she asked the kids about being out in the rain, well she didn’t like that they love it. An excuse to get filthy, muddy, dirty without any worries.

  26. Indoor yoga is just as healthy as mudpit football.

  27. SKL,
    Actually, no indoor yoga is not as healthy as mudpit football.
    Cardio isn’t worked nearly as hard. And correct me if I am wrong but mudpit football would promote more teamwork, social skills and just downright fun and laughter.
    Not saying yoga isn’t good for you, because I know it is very good for you.
    My actual exercise of choice is swimming, and that is second to none for actual allround physical exercise. Still not so much on the teamwork or social skills. Kinda hard to joke with the swimmer next to you when they can’t hear you.

    Oh and before anyone jumps down my throat for sending my kids out in all types of weather……I do make exceptions for hurricanes, tornadoes and biblical floods.

  28. Someone needs to tell the police and CPS in my area about this study. Someone called CPS on me because my son, who was too young for school at the time but was still 5, spent too much time outside “unsupervised.” The police tried to tell me there are child sex trafficing rings from my area that target children that look like my son (blond hair, green/blue eyes) to send to Mexico as sex slaves. CPS put a parenting plan in place that states that I have to be with my son whenever he’s outside. I have a 4 month old that’s exclusively breast fed on demand. Maybe they’d prefer seeing my naked breast (which is still legal since a mother is legally allowed to feed her child wherever she is legally allowed to be)? They also said my house was too messy for kids to live in (I had just moved in about a month prior, so we were still emptying boxes and I needed to vacuum). When am I supposed to clean? From 1am-2am? When should I sleep then? CPS told me that I can’t legally allow my son to play “unsupervised” until he’s 7 which is about a year from now. My apartment complex says 10 which is 4 years from now. Ugh. I hate, hate, hate this hovering bull crap. Let kids be kids and adults be adults, not eternal babysitters.

  29. Meh. Heavy cardio workouts aren’t everything.

  30. I don’t have an issue with my kid playing outside in the rain. My KID has a problem with my kid playing outside in the rain. It makes her uncomfortable and I don’t see any advantage in pushing the point by making her do it. It will just turn her from outside. Since we live in a rain forest, rain often sprouts up while we are hiking and swimming and she muddles through, but she doesn’t seek to go outside when it is raining.

    And healthy isn’t all about cardio. Yoga develops muscles and flexibility that mudpit football can’t touch. The best physical shape I was ever in was when I did martial arts. It combines cardio with flexibility and isometric training. Sadly my hips gave out.

  31. And all my martial arts was done inside.

  32. LOL! Your constant wish to be confrontational just tells me that the yoga and martial art did nothing for your sense of teamwork or social skills. Maybe you should have gone done to the mudpit.

    Besides are we not talking about the kids. It would be a rare kid that would give up a chance to play outside with friends, to lay on the floor for a session of yoga. Don’t get me wrong, yoga is great, and so is martial arts, and football, and tennis and and and. I never said any were not great. But comparing yoga to football or any team sport is like comparing apples to oranges.

  33. Oh and by the way. Played football, hockey, softball, swam, and many others and my hips are just fine, as is the rest of my body.

  34. Am enjoying reading your comments, Warren, and am sure your body is just fine….But obviously, if you think Wii is not as much exercise as real tennis, you have never had the misfortune of watching someone like myself attempt to play actual tennis. I can trip over my own feet just walking around the house, and have been known to injure people wanting to play a proper game of tennis just by being in their physical vicinity…

    On a more serious note, kids definitely need to play outside, for all sorts of reasons, but personally I think co-ordination is largely a matter of genetics. Like most people of my generation I was outside much of the time, and could swing from trees like a monkey and ride over and around all sorts of obstacles, but even as a middle aged woman I still can’t negotiate my way around a classroom without bruising myself, and never could, in spite of years of practice, hurl a softball in the right direction, even for such noble purposes as trying to brain my little brother. Some of us are co-ordinated, some are not, and still others are dangerous klutzes.

    And what, pray tell, do y’all mean by mudpit football? Sounds fun, but do you just mean rugby? (Game with an oval ball, huge fellas running around grunting…:-) ).

  35. And if your sense of teamwork and social skills are any indication, I think we can chalk the mudpit up as an utter failure as well.

    And I know several kids who love yoga. It is one of the most popular clubs at my kid’s American elementary school (I live in a weird town). Just goes to show that people, even kid people, like different things.

  36. We would intentionally soak down a field until it was nothing but mud, and then play football (american/canadian) in the mud. No pads no helmets, and lots of slipping and sliding. I retrospect we didnt need protective gear, because the slippery conditions prevented any real speed or momentum.

    Actually co-ordintation can be aquired through training and practise, and believe it or not some aspects of your vision can be improved through training..

    Donna, again I have never said yoga sucks. It is a healthy pursuit, and can be quite uselful in rehab situations as well. I never said kids didn’t like yoga. Just that most of the ones I know would rather be out with their friends.

  37. This strikes me as a chicken and egg study. Does a sedentary lifestyle hinder coordination or are people who are naturally less coordinated drawn to a sedentary lifestyle?

    All kids aren’t born equally coordinated. My daughter has a core group of 5 friends – 3 are active and 2 prefer sedentary pursuits. It is clear that the 3 active kids have much better natural coordination than the sedentary kids. At 5 and 6, they are too young to have the substantial differences I see based on lifestyle alone. So it seems (from my own very small, informal, completely antidotal with no scientific basis whatsoever study) that, at least some sedentary, kids have naturally lower levels of coordination. And that lower levels of coordination may make one less inclined to enjoy activities requiring coordination.

    Of course sitting front of a screen all day isn’t good for anyone and kids need to run and play. I’m just not sure that this study shows anything beyond uncoordinated people prefer sedentary activities that don’t require much coordination even at young ages.

  38. Donna, that’s exactly what I was saying earlier on, as I’ve observed the same with my kids. They are the same age, same home, etc., yet one is very athletic and wants/needs daily vigorous activity, while the other would be happy to sit all day. It also happens that my athletic kid has always been slim/skinny since she was born. I couldn’t have made her fat if I’d tried.

    As for yoga, people underestimate it because it isn’t big in our culture. If

    people would give it an objective hearing, they would realize that it is awesome for just about every aspect of health. And when exposed in the right way, kids are no less likely to enjoy this than other not-necessarily-competitive sports (gymnastics, martial arts, etc.). The reason I brought up yoga is that it’s a great option when going outside is not so attractive. Same is true of dance and probably a dozen others. Where I live, by the time kids get home from school, it’s already getting dark and half of the year it’s cold and wet. Yeah, you “could” go play in the snow, but that’s not the only way to get some good exercise. My point is that there is no need to be so militant about playing the sports on a short list chosen by Warren or whoever.

    The idea that yoga isn’t conducive to teamwork / soft skills is also flawed. Yoga encourages a kind of thinking that breaks down barriers people build up to open, honest, productive interactions. I’ve worked with many people, and the ones most difficult to deal with were the ones who put the highest priority on competitive sports. The whole “I can’t lose,” “ends justify the means,” “take no prisoners,” etc. – it’s just an obnoxious outlook in most life situations.

  39. Kids getting outside (be it reading or playing house or such) is good for their eye sight. Humans did not actually live all day in caves, our eyes need natural daylight in order to develop properly.

    I used to do my reading in a tree. Had to climb up there, using muscles and needed coordination to sit in the tree while my attention was focused on other things.

  40. Saying that some children are just born with less co-ordination than others isn’t anything ground breaking. We are all born with different levels of everything. But, co-ordination is something that can be learned. Along with co-ordination comes the awareness of ones surroundings, which may be born in sports and activities, is vital to our adult lives. Co-ordination is nothing more than repeating something until it becomes an automatic reaction.
    Yes, alot of athletes were born with a predisposition to aquire certain skills, and there are others that thru practise, training and time aquired the same skills.
    Yoga is a fantastic exercise/lifestyle, that I would recomend to any athlete. A yoga program would only help them with every other thing they participate in.
    As for the win at all costs remark, not all sports enthusiasts are that hardcore.
    There is nothing wrong with instilling competitive ideals in children. The younger they learn, the more likely they will be able have a healthy attitude when it comes to winning and losing. Never judge a person by how they lose, judge them by how they win.
    I hope their are no parents in here that have the philosophy that their are no losers, because everyone is a winner. Wrong message to send to kids. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. Just because you lost that game, match, or whatever, doesn’t make you a “loser”.
    Teaching kids how to handle losing is far better for them than hiding them from it.

  41. I have one kid that goes outside and wants to run, run, run. Nerf gun wars, pickup soccer and street hockey, scootering, skateboarding, you name it. I have one kid that goes outside and wants to hole up inside a hollowed-out shrub bank and play restaurant, creating dishes from wood chips and leaves and serving it up to imaginary customers, then she’ll do a little jungle gym climbing once in a while. I have another kid who goes outside, and mostly watches other kids play. Occasionally joins in, but sits on his butt a lot. I have another kid whose grand passion it is to be one of the boys, and follows the two boys around, often getting hurt, but insisting on being part of the action.

    The common theme?

    OUTSIDE.

  42. Mollie,
    When your daughter opens her first restaurant, I will be in line. Probably be an outdoor cafe.

  43. I don’t think there is anything wrong with competitive sports if the kids are interested in those sports. I just don’t see them as a necessity of life. Developing some physical activities that you enjoy is absolutely necessary for life. A particular type of physical activity is not. I can’t think of a single thing that I enjoy and willingly engage in as an adult that I was forced into doing as a child. Team work and good sportsmanship can be learned in many ways outside of competitive sports if that is not where your interest lies.

    I feel the same way about outside. Being outside is great if you want to be outside. Being outside sucks if you are overly hot or cold or wet or engaging in an activity that you dislike. This is not to say that people can’t enjoy being outside when it is super hot, cold or wet; just that I’m not sure I see an advantage in forcing people to be there when they don’t want to be.

    Again, I do think kids need to develop enjoyment in some physical activities. A dictate that they must be competitive teams or must be outside just doesn’t fit with every kid. I’d rather my kid stay inside and do gymnastics and dance than learn to hate exercise by being stuck on a soccer field she hates.

  44. Before this hot summer, I probably would have been touting my militant mommy antics “forcing” my kids to play outside every non-blizzardy/rainy day. But man, this year it seemed like that would be child abuse on some days. The summer is supposed to be enjoyed! Boot camp for the sake of boot camp has its time and place, but my 5yos’ summer isn’t it.

  45. Donna,
    Do not tell the U.S. Gymnastics Team, that they aren’t in a competitive team sport.

  46. Warren, I’d venture a guess that most kids who take gymnastics take it recreationally rather than competitively. Same with most stuff done in the Olympics. Horse riding, shooting, running, skating, swimming, skiing . . . . But what do I know? Why are we arguing about this, anyway?

  47. Warren, eating is also a competitive sport, but only a very small fraction of people who eat do so competitively. As SKL said, most kids who take gymnastics do so recreationally. The competitive team at my daughter’s school consists of 10-15 girls. The school has about 500 students.

  48. Not agruing, just stating that most activities done by kids, that appear in the Olympics are competitive. Gymnastics clubs compete within their ranks and with other clubs, the horse show jumping is nothing but competitive, running implies racing, skating/ figure skating is so cutthroat competitive it is scary at times. Swimming like the Olympics is one of the most demanding sports, skiing implies racing, come on.

    Sorry SKL, but as soon as you mentioned Olympics your arguement of not being competitive went out the window.

    Trail riding, splashing in the pool, skating during public hours, going to the local ski hill, and hunting are recreational. And there is no rule that you cannot enjoy healthy competition as part of your chosen recreation.
    Just because it is competitive does not mean it cannot be recreational. They go hand in hand quite often.

    And no I do not agree with every child getting a trophy. Trophies are rewards for effort and accomplishments. You either earn one, or you don’t. All giving out trophies to everyone does is instill the idea that I will get rewarded no matter what I do. Wrong message for children.

  49. Warren, I don’t think I brought up the Olympics, I think you did. You seem to put competition on a pretty high pedestal. Or maybe you’re just pumped up because the Olympics were so recent.

    I never said anything about trophies. I think trophies, ribbons, etc. are stupid unless you’re actually competing and you actually win. I don’t see how they are even considered a “reward” if there was no competition to get one. Just a waste of money IMO.

    Personally I have nothing against competitive sports, but I never wanted to participate in one as a kid (especially not a team sport), and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one. So I don’t assume my kids would like it. I put them in the recreational classes, and if they come to me and ask to go into competition, I’ll discuss it. They will have to prove to me that they are self-motivated enough to make it worth our while. But one thing to remember is that kids who take these competitive sports very seriously tend to get injured to the point where their long-term health is negatively affected. More isn’t always better.

  50. SKL,
    Bingo and busted! Your last thought betrays you. The equating of serious competition with serious injury. Worst case scenario thinking.

  51. Listen we all have differing views on sports, exercise, recreation and the like. That is fine. But I think we can all agree that more physical activity for our children is a good thing. Spending the majority of one’s free time sitting on one’s ass in front of the TV, or playstation or computer is not healthy. Can we at least agree on this?

  52. I’m late to the party, in case anyone is still reading this.

    This definitely is one of my main issues and passions, as for the past 2 years I’ve been home with my kids, ages 1½ and 3 at the time and ages 3½ and 5 now–and I most certainly have them play outside a LOT, and unsupervised at that. I started out letting them be in the (eventually) fenced-in area for about 10-20 minutes before checking to see they were okay. Now, it’s not at all unusual for them to be outside a full 1½ hours or so just playing while I’m indoors doing what I need to do.

    Yes, as that one person said–I’ve got other things to do. This sends shivers down the spine of so many other people. How dare you have something else to do! You don’t want to be around your kids? You don’t want to be outdoors hovering over every little thing they do? Then why did you have them?

    Yes, it always comes back to that. You don’t love your kids if you don’t parent them EXACTLY the way such persons parent theirs, and so–hey, you shouldn’t have had them if you weren’t up for the responsibility, as if they get to define what they see as being responsible.

    The thing that gets me: I’ve been looking work & desire to return to work, but if I do, who’s going to watch them, and are they going to allow the kids to play outdoors and without necessarily interacting directly with them as opposed to just letting them be, so long as they don’t wander off or bully someone etc? I like it that I can interact with them and they are attached to me, yet they’re not “underfoot” every other second either. I don’t want them getting used to someone who’s so joined to their hip as the babysitter or daycare worker etc that they then think that’s the norm and they nag me every other second all day to where they no longer are comfortable playing outdoors alone in stretches the way they are now.

    LRH

  53. It is no more free range to force a child into rigorous exercise than it is to force him to sit inside.

    Warren, for all your talk about sports, you must know how likely it is to get injured when you push extremes. I know many people who had to stop sports all together due to an injury in competitive sports. Not just a rare case here or there. Still, if you’re doing it because you love it, fine and dandy. If your kid is doing it because less than the max isn’t good enough for you, that seems to me to go against the free-range philosophy as well as good health guidelines.

    I’m not in competition with you, Warren, and I’m not here to have you pick apart my words with no interest in my actual intent. Do what you want with your kids, but don’t be surprised if your judgmental comments about others are not appreciated.

  54. And Warren, I didn’t notice anyone saying that sitting on their ass for hours in front of a screen is good for kids.

  55. We should have a better education system and more homework because some countries are poorer and yet have a better education system. Have you realized that all the countries with a supposedly good education have more homework? Maybe instead of letting kids play outside unsupervised [which builds social and physical ability], we should strengthen their academic ability. This is my opinion AS A CHILD.

  56. IF Teachers didn’t send home so much damn homework, then maybe our kids would have more time to play outside. My son gets out of school at 2pm, gets home, does homework, eats dinner, plays a little bit, then he is in bed by 7pm at the latest because he has to get up around 6am to be at school again by 7:00am. So if my son, who is 5 by the way, wouldn’t have to be at school from 7:15am until 2pm, 5 days a week, and if he didn’t have homework to do, then maybe he would actually have the time to sit and watch TV or play outside, but he doesn’t. So it’s not just society as a whole, it’s also the schools that are the reason that kids don’t get to play outside so much anymore.😦 So, so sad.

  57. The schools these days are not promoting healthy, outdoor, active children. Quite the opposite. They are teaching our children that there are more excuses to stay inside, than there are reasons to be outside.
    Too windy, too hot, too cold, too damp, too wet. It will come to be that our children will only be allowed outside during conditions that meet specific parameters. Optimum temp., proper humidity, no rain, snow or wind.

    Didn’t matter what the weather, we went outside for recess. All the schools are teaching them by keeping them in, is to be weak and fearful.

    We have had student employees want to refuse tasks, because it is raining. They get to voice their refusal once, before being told to suck it up. Second voiced refusal ends with “Goodbye, your work ethic does not meet our standards.”

    We are seeing the evolution of a sheltered to the point of weakness generation. And ladies and gentlemen, when you are senior citizens and stuck on the side of the highway, not able to get a towtruck out, because they won’t work when it is raining, snowing, windy, cold or whatever…………………..enjoy your wait.

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