Extreme parenting fail: Making playgrounds way too safe

Like any typical child, I loved spending hours in my neighborhood playground. My favorite thing of all times was the swings--especially after I learned to swing as high as the sky without anybody's help. My second favorite thing was the seesaw. Such a simple structure and yet so fun! I didn't realize seesaws were pretty much banned from playgrounds until I started taking my daughter Vanessa to different parks and noticed they no longer existed. Why?

It turns out that Americans are so obsessed with playground safety that many of the play structures we grew up with have been banned from parks to prevent our children from getting hurt. The list includes my beloved seesaw, the merry-go-around, the monkey bars and, in some parks and school yards, even the swings. How sad!


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There's no denying that children have gotten hurt in playgrounds because of these structures, but so many more--including the majority of my generation--have not and yet all of today's children are paying the prize. Although safety is at the core of these changes, avoiding litigation also plays a large role. In other words, fearful of lawsuits from extremely overprotective parents, the government and the manufacturers have worked on tighter safety standards which are sure to keep our children unharmed, but bored as hell too!

In fact, critics of today's extremely safe playgrounds say that they "may stunt emotional development, leaving children with anxieties and fears that are ultimately worse than a broken bone," according to an article last year on The New York Times. And that's because in an effort to make sure our children never get hurt, we're forgetting that getting hurt and failing is part of being a child and part of the process of learning from our mistakes so that, hopefully, we don't make them again.

Not to mention the fact that preventing children from getting scared--or, God forbid, hurt--has exactly the opposite effect: getting them scared. Scared of heights, scared of taking chances, scared of excitement and exhilartion--the kind you feel when you're flying high on a swing.

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Sadly, my daughter had to go to Lima, Peru--my home country--to experience the thrill of playing on a seesaw. She was immediately hooked!

Do you think playgrounds are way too safe these days?

Image via E.Yoshio/flickr

Topics: how to parent  on parenting