I read with great interest an article by Kirsty Wynn in The New Zealand Herald saying that overprotective parents are not allowing their offspring enough time for ‘kids to be kids’.
Parents are being urged to “Re-Wild their child” and get their kids involved in risky play outside.
The growing number of children stuck indoors on tablets, computers and game consoles has experts worried and they want parents to make a change.
New Zealand researcher Dr Scott Duncan has joined the call for parents to get their children outdoors and engaged in challenging and sometimes risky play situations.
Dr Duncan is a guest speaker at the forthcoming Re-Wild The Child event at The Parenting Place – hosted by visiting British documentary maker David Bond.
The father of three and AUT researcher will join Bond and three other New Zealand experts to give parents advice on how to reclaim the outdoors for their children.
Dr Duncan has just finished his own “State of Play” survey of 2004 New Zealand parents. He found parents knew the importance of free-play but didn’t give their children enough opportunities to get out there.
I personally don’t think this is just unique to New Zealand.
Dr Duncan said New Zealand was becoming an increasingly risk-averse society where children were “over-scheduled” with organised after-school activities and there wasn’t enough time left in the week for “kids to be kids”.
His research found there was a growing concern that “bubble-wrapped” children had limited opportunities to play creatively, instigate physical activity and overcome challenges themselves.
“There are two words we use far too much and they are ‘be careful’,” Dr Scott said.
“People think that kids falling down and hurting themselves is always a bad thing but they actually learn a lot from those experiences.”
As a parent, Dr Duncan has his backyard set up with trees to climb, swings, slides and platforms designed to encourage free-play.
His sons Jamie, 7, Ollie, 5, and daughter Sophie, 2, are encouraged to get outside and play at every opportunity. Rough-and-tumble play is encouraged and bumps and bruises are common. The family love technology and the children still have time on tablets and computers but this is balanced with “tramp-breaks” and extended periods outside.
Dr Duncan supports the ethos of Project Wild Thing – a movement in Britain started by Bond which aims to get children off technology and reconnect them with nature.
This week the documentary maker, in the country to promote Project Wild Thing, said he wanted to see New Zealand parents make changes at home by leading by example.
People think that kids falling down and hurting themselves is always a bad thing but they actually learn a lot from those experiences.
Dr Scott Duncan
Read more here
My pal Gill Connell from Moving Smart Now wrote a fabulous article for me about why it’s great for kids to climb trees which you can read here.