Remember when we were kids and we were allowed to had our moments of ignorance? When we could play games and were none the wiser to if they were or were not, in some way, proper or politically correct or not?
I remember playing tag, dodgeball, “cowboys and indians”, and running around the neighborhood with toy guns and throwing rocks or “dirt clods” at my friends. I remember climbing fences, walls, poles, etc and getting hurt, and never had to worry about anything other than my parents telling me I was acting like a fool and brushing me off, then sending me back out to do it all over again.
Today, I cannot allow my son to do many of these things. So many of them are not proper or considered violent. The school he goes to has banned games like tag or dodgeball. They have even put restrictions on gathering in groups. While I understand that fighting is not permitted, it was the same when I was growing up, it appears that defending yourself is also not permitted.
What, exactly, are our schools and our society trying to create in our children? Just because kids like to play rough and break some of the rules, does not mean that they will grow up to be bad children. In some cases it can be the opposite.
Let’s take, for example, the act of kids roughhousing around. That is something I did as a kid, it’s not really fighting, but can be an aggressive form of play that, yes, can lead to a few bumps and bruises. In her 2018 article on PsychCentral, Therese Borchard addresses this and more, going on to say that the act of roughhousing can help to make kids smarter, more likable and can help build a sense of ethics and morality (Borchard,2018). And I have a personal experience with that as well. When we would roughhouse as kids, there was always a line we did not cross, a purpose. If someone got hurt, then we stopped, granted, that is not ALWAYS the case, but more often than not, it was. You also learn more about your weakness’ and how to interact with others. It was healthy and we always had fun.
Dodegeball is another one that my son will never have the joy of playing in school. When I was young, we played dodgeball at recess and I can not recall anyone ever being truly injured in the game. Yeah, I remember taking a ball to the face once or twice, and yes, it was not fun. But you pick up and you get back playing again. It sort of taught you the lesson that sometimes things will knock you down, but you have to get back up and get back in the game. Move on. This is not to say that there were not those that went too far, I am sure there are. But we cannot and should not let that be the rule, more… make sure we remember that it is the exception.
One last thing, a problem I am going through now with my son’s relationship with my wife (his mother) and his grandmother, is that too often, these days, we coddle our children too much. While I understand it is all in what we percieve as the best interest of our children, it is not healthy to try to protect then from everything, or they end up not learning. Tim Elmore wrote a wonderful piece on this, where he said, ” When we give kids the freedom to fight and fail and find their way through the pain of life, we are not hurting them. We are helping them build the strength they need to fly. ” (Elmore, 2015). And he is exactly right.
We need to experience both success and failure, you really cannot have one without the other. We need to feel the pain of loss to really know the joy of what we earn or acheive. We need to have those moments of complete humility to remember that we are not, nor will be ever be, perfect.
Thank you for reading.
Borchard, T. (2018, Oct 8). 6 Benefits of Roughhousing for Kids. Retrieved from PsychCentral: https://psychcentral.com/lib/6-benefits-of-roughhousing-for-kids/
Elmore, T. (2015, Dec 16). ARE YOU PROTECTING YOUR KIDS FROM REALITY OR PREPARING THEM FOR LIFE? Retrieved from focusonthefamily.com: https://www.focusonthefamily.com/parenting/are-you-protecting-your-kids-from-reality-or-preparing-them-for-life/