Saturday, January 29

“Honey, be careful, you’re going to fall”: why children need less overprotection and more free play | Experts | Mamas & Papas



“Be careful that you are going to fall.” “Get down from there”. Surely you remember saying one of these phrases. Adults are often worried and alert while children play, the reason: fear that they may fall or hurt themselves. However, sometimes we find it difficult to differentiate their fear from ours.

On this subject, there is more and more research such as those carried out cable by Mariana Brussoni, child development psychologist, who argue that children need less overprotection and more opportunities for free and spontaneous play. Research shows that play is associated with increased physical activity, social skills, risk management skills, resilience, and self-confidence.

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Since they are babies, adults, without being aware, hinder the natural development of the child for fear of hurting themselves.

As an educator I usually observe something common in adults, in the stage when babies are learning to stand up, the baby leans somewhere to achieve standing and then they are not able to return to their initial position. It is then that our instinct for protection leads us quickly to offer help without giving them the opportunity to try. At that time, it is more important to accompany than to rescue him, in this way he will gain confidence and self-assurance.

Similarly, we intervene unnecessarily when children start to walk and hold their hands or are tied with a leash. The baby’s body is ready to reach a certain posture necessary for walking, by itself. That is why our direct intervention is not necessary. Wearing them tied with a strap will prevent them from integrating something essential for future falls, learning to put their hands on the ground. The baby will walk when he is ready, not before or after.

It’s not the risk, it’s trying to allow

It is not about children taking risks or harming themselves in order to learn, but rather about allowing the child to develop knowledge of their own abilities, not interfered with by adult fears. Finding balance is sometimes difficult but not impossible.

María Reboul, psychopedagogue and teacher, reminds us that we should not avoid at all costs that children experience fear, it is an adaptive emotion. Children have the ability to self-regulate and measure how far they can go.

A good example of how little awareness we have about the benefits that free play in childhood brings and overprotection are padded parks with elements that only allow a structured use of it. We can find few parks with sand and water or trunk or structures to climb. Spontaneous experiences related to nature are perfect for the development of the body and mind.

Many of us who are parents can now wear the scars of the game on the asphalt street and the iron swings on our knees. But they were other times, in which we were not abducted with the screens and we enjoyed for hours in the street already forgotten games such as the handkerchief or boat.

Children have less and less time for free play, despite the fact that research shows that children who have the opportunity to play outdoors and spontaneously adapt better to their culture, society and the world. They build motor skills, develop autonomy and the ability to make decisions.

“Playing is not a break from learning. It is endless learning, charming, deep, engaging, and practical. It is the door to the child’s heart ”, Vince Gowmon said.

* Ruth Alfonso Arias is a Early Childhood educator and Positive Discipline family educator

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