Games We Used To Play

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Are we raising kids who have never failed?
Date: September 10 2011

by Marijke Vroomen Durning

Writing for and promoting free play is one thing – to get parents to allow their children to play freely is another thing altogether. The lack of free play among children is blamed on many things. We blame, among other issues, the fact that children are in daycare during the day rather than at home with a parent, the lack of space where children may go to play many of the outdoor games, and of course, the fear of allowing our children out of our sight. No longer does it seem safe to let our kids roam the neighbourhoods to find activities and playmates.

Parents have, in many cases, become too protective, many people say. Look at any school at the beginning of the day where you may see parents driving their children four blocks to school rather than letting them walk. We see recess times at school where many games are banned because of the potential that children may get hurt or only inclusive games with no winners or losers are allowed to be played. We have parents smoothing the way for their offspring in all aspects of life, not just with playing. The parents don’t want to see their children fail, to get hurt. Of course not. What parent does? But isn’t failing part of learning? Montreal author John Symon wrote a piece on this topic last February for a local paper, The West End Times. In it he wrote: “The old adage is that people learn from their mistakes, but somehow we are no longer permitting kids to make mistakes.”

What do you think? Have we gone too far? Are our children going to suffer as adults because many weren’t allowed to fail when they were children?