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Entries in dodgeball (1)

Saturday
Jul192014

Coddle Much?

There is something I have to get off my chest.  This post is not a rant; it’s a non-scientific observation about what we’re doing to our children with recommendations.  I hope you’ll make a comment with your thinking.

Coddle is a verb meaning to treat in an indulgent or overprotective way.  In our attempt to make our childrens’ lives as rich and safe as possible, we’re taking away the opportunity to learn some of life’s lessons. 

We’re coddling too much.

To start, I am not advocating placing our children in harm’s way.  Some of the things we do with our children make lots of sense.  For example, let’s look at car seats.  While I grew up without car seats (and without seat belts) it’s clear the benefit of a car seat outweighs the fun of being in the back of a station wagon “untethered.” 

Here’s my starter list of things to encourage this conversation:

  • Watch Baseball - This came to me while watching the Major League Baseball All Star Game.  This summer classic pits the “all stars” as selected by the fans.  This summer classic was always something we looked forward to every year.  It generally marked the halfway point of summer and was a great excuse to stay up late and hang with friends.  Today?  The previous day has a “Home Run Derby” singling out players who can hit the most home runs.  Arguably the Home Run Derby has eclipsed the All Star Game.  
    • Recommendation: Skip the home run derby and encourage watching the All Star Game.  Lesson: Value team activities over singular activity.  The good news is team sports are available for enjoyment nearly everywhere.  Attend the game in person (high school?) rather than watch it on TV.
  • Let kids play – kids used to go outside in the morning, and return to home at sundown (and or dinnertime).  Every family had a way to “gather” the children (one friend’s mom had a large bell, my dad has his “famous whistle.”  Events were not organized.
    • Recommendation: Turn off the screen (TV/Video/smartphone) and let the kids play outside.  Sure, you need rules on what is acceptable behavior and boundaries (don’t cross Ruggles Street.)  Lesson: Great life lessons were learned this way.  We damned a drainage ditch behind some of the houses when I was, ahem, younger.  We learned about water, how to build a basic dam, crayfish & tadpoles/frogs, and how neighbors react to a damned drainage ditch.  This two week effort was quite elaborate, harmless, and when the inevitable dam breaking occurred we learned about the power of water.
  • Encourage team sports – I was always an overweight kid and as the neighborhood kids selected teams I was rarely (aka never) at the top of the list, and always got selected.
    • Recommendation: Let kids self-select teams.  Lesson: In life, you won’t always get selected first.  Be patient.  Relax and have fun.  This lesson also carries over later in life at work.
  • Bring back kickball – the baseball-like game played with an inflated (red) rubber ball has gone by the wayside because the ball is painful when it hits you. 
    • Recommendation:  Bring back kickball.  It’s something requiring minimal eye/hand coordination and can be played by anyone.  If outlawing a sport is required, outlaw either Dodgeball (where the same balls are used to “hit” someone) or Soccer (how can you “acceptably” use your head to hit a ball?) – concussions are evil!  Lesson:  Pay attention when the ball is in play.  This lesson also carries over later in life at work.
  • Stop giving out trophies to everyone – This is pet peeve of my trainer Joe (who I see regularly as I continue battling weight.)  We give out trophies to everyone, whether they “won” or not.
    • Recommendation – trophies are for winners.  Lesson: life is hard, and trophies are not awarded in life unless you win.  That’s a lesson going back to the cave dwellers – the successful hunter ate while the unsuccessful went hungry.  Survival of the fittest.  The lesson is to develop your skills to be on the winning team.
  •  Drink from the Hose – I’ve already indicated my belief some dirt is a necessity in life.  Over and over I see examples of taking this to extreme. 
    • Recommendation: My granddaughter can’t be touched unless you sanitize first.  In the hospital sanitizing made sense (and that’s where this behavior was learned.)  In life, unless you’re filthy or haven’t washed in a while touching someone is OK.  

      As a child, we drank from hoses all the time (rather than go in the house.)  Now, hoses are dirty and leach chemicals into the water.  While that’s true, kids run the water in hoses until it’s cold (more refreshing and better taste.)  Some of our houses have pipes soldered with lead.  We all know lead is bad.  So what do we do?  Run the house water until it is cold.  So if running the house water until it is cold minimizes the concerns about lead leaching into the water, does the same logic apply when considering a hose? 

      Lesson: While protecting your child from known bad things, use common sense!
  • Teens should workworking for someone else gives an appreciation for the value of a buck.
    • Recommendation:  Let teens work.  Child labor laws protect them from bad occupations and overwork.  This is something where parents often need to make the initial connection for the job.  Lesson: if you want the nicer things in life, you need to work for them.  Teens also learn acceptable work practices.

Let’s get back to basics and let kids be kids.  Since I am writing this on a beautiful summer Saturday, I’m going to take my own advice and ride my bicycle, saving the Harley for another day!