Cotton wool kids – so what’s making YOU paranoid?

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I was on BBC Radio Surrey today discussing cotton wool kids – children who are over protected

Listen here to Danny Pike

Here’s a blog I wrote awhile ago to help you get clear about your own ways of protecting your kids.

Well, I don’t know about you but I loved riding my bike up and down my road waiting for my Dad to come home, making mud pies using flowers as potatoes, and hanging upside down from a great tree on Streatham Common but apparently parents have become so overprotective that just one in ten children get to play regularly in parks, fields and woods, a poll shows.

A survey commissioned by Natural England found a generation of youngsters is being deprived of the innocent, natural and healthy pleasures of tree-climbing, pond-dipping or making mud pies.

Yet 81 per cent of children said they would like more freedom to play outside.

Just one in 10 children play regularly in parks and fields, even though most want more freedom to enjoy the outdoors

Even when they get to do so, only 20 per cent say they are allowed to spend time without an adult in close attendance.

Experts warned that anxious parents are raising a generation of ‘cotton-wool kids’ who are denied the independence, experience and education that comes from exploring the outdoor world.

The poll of 1,150 adults and 502 children between the ages of seven and 11 showed that 40 per cent of adults got to play outside regularly when they were young. But of modern children, even those who had a nature area near their homes, only 24 per cent visited it weekly.

Most parents – 85 per cent – said they would like their children to be able to play outdoors unsupervised but feared they would be abducted by strangers or hit by a car.

Natural England  launched a campaign to introduce a million children to nature over the next three years by encouraging them to visit farms and nature reserves and start gardening.

Naturalist Stephen Moss, author of the family outdoor guide The Bumper Book Of Nature, said: ‘Concerns over safety are understandable but if children can’t get out and explore the natural world, we run the risk of raising a generation of cotton-wool kids, whose experiences are defined by websites and computer games.’

Here my questions for you to ‘Pause To  Ponder’

• What amount of time do your kids usually play outside?

• Do you feel it’s enough?

• How could you make a small change that would make a big difference, over time, if you found new ways to get your children out in the fresh air playing?

• How do you feel about safety, freedom and allowing your children to play unsupervised?

• How do you get a balance between keeping them safe and allowing them freedom to explore?

• Are your expectations flexible and able to adapt to your growing child’s maturity, allowing them to make considered judgments for themselves which leads to their independence?

• What are your concerns?

• Are they rational?

• What would you like to happen in a perfect world if I could wave a magic wand?

Take some time to relax and breathe deeply and slowly and imagine a perfect world for your kids….. what are they doing, what are they hearing….. how do they feel?

• What needs to change for you to create this daydream for your kids?

• How can you relax more around this whole area of freedom to explore?

• What will be the benefits to your children when you get this balance right?

What are your thoughts on keeping your kids safe?

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