We all want to protect our kids – keep them safe, help them build self esteem and grow up to be good people. But in our efforts to keep them out of harms way are we actually inflicting our own brand of harm on them? In recent weeks I have come across several stories that have made me question this very thing.
- A school banning blowing out candles on birthday cakes to avoid the spread of germs;
- A school banning the tradition of handing out Valentine’s Day cards, just in case some kids don’t get as many as others and have their feelings hurt;
- Schools banning ALL forms of touching, including hugs, hand holding and, in at least one school, even high fives are taboo;
- Prohibiting teachers from grading papers with red ink. It’s too confrontational;
- Not letting kids acknowledge holidays that have any religious connections including no costumes allowed at Halloween;
- Schools banning kids games like dodge ball or even tag because they are too dangerous and competitive. Some schools now prohibit the use of balls in general.
- Some schools in the UK have banned kids from having best friends (yes really);
- At least one school that I am aware of has put a ban on doing handstand and cartwheels;
- Leggings and skinny jeans have been banned in many schools;
- Schools are starting to actually ban homework. Homework!;
- At least one state in the US has banned bake sales at schools;
- Schools in New York have a list of “upsetting words” teachers are not allowed to use in tests. It includes things like dinosaur, birthday, homes with swimming pools (I’m not making this up).
If you are reading this you are most likely over the age of 20 and, if my demographic statistical information is even remotely accurate you are more than likely over 30. So, chances are you grew up participating in just about all of the activities I’ve just mentioned. How did you turn out? Ok, I know we all have our little (or big) issues but can you contribute any of them to playing tag, having your paper marked with a red pen or having a best friend in school? If you saw the word dinosaur on a test paper would you be so traumatized that you could not concentrate on the exam? I didn’t think so.
Kids need to learn. Sometimes that even means getting hurt and may involve germs, competitive games and/or cartwheels. And it’s not just schools stepping in and putting ridiculous limitations on our kids. Parents do it as well. We are so afraid of exposing our kids to sickness, confrontation and failure that we are robbing them of valuable opportunities to learn and grow in a healthy way.
There is no success without failure, there is no joy without pain. These highs and lows are part of life and to really truly be happy, self aware and even empathetic we have to embrace this fact of life and realize that, just as we went (and still are going) through them our kids must as well. It will make them better people.