ITS TIME TO REMOVE PADDING.
We don’t need to live in a cocoon: squashed and cushioned we are unable to truly feel the world around us.
It’s the same for our kids.
Kids need to grow up and feel: risk, danger, achievement, responsibility.
Even in cities.
The good news is that this is easier than it seems as most of the assumptions we have about raising kids in cities are simply not true.
It is not ‘too dangerous’ to let kids walk alone in the city.
Fact is, there is a lot of data showing accidents on country roads are more dangerous than those that occur on city streets. Some British data points at denser traffic leading to less fatal accidents, as well people and drivers being more careful in cities.
It is not ‘too dangerous’ to let kids out of sight.
‘Stranger danger’ should not dominate decisions on how much freedom to give our kids in cities. Child abductions by strangers are incredibly, extremely and completely rare. A generation ago, children were much more likely to walk to school and play unsupervised with friends, despite overall rates of child abductions being much the same as today. What’s changed is our fear of these appalling crimes; this has risen exponentially since the 1970’s.
It is not ‘too dangerous’ for kids to play unsupervised.
Since the late seventies in the USA, and then across most of the northern hemisphere, playgrounds have become safer. Rounded and padded, with risks and heights curtailed, they are also more boring. (Ever seen how kids want to climb over the equipment rather than play in it?) And yet a British study concludes this has not reduced the frequency of kids winding up in hospital emergency rooms from playground-related accidents. In fact, this study concludes there is a worrying rise in more-dangerous long-bone injuries, perhaps because of ‘risk compensation’ where kids don’t worry about falling on rubber, so they are less careful.
David Ball, a professor of risk management at Middlesex University, who analyzed the injury statistics in the UK and the U.S., says, “we have come to think of accidents as preventable and not a natural part of life.”
The result is kids and teenagers who suffer depression, anxiety and crippling self-esteem. An inability to do things for themselves. Fear of stepping out of their comfort zones. This is not happening in a vacuum.
Kids seek and need to take risks, alone as well as with their friends to gain confidence, build self-esteem, physical ability and agility. And not only for their mental wellbeing: it’s the fun of childhood. Cushion and pad their lives and this becomes ever more difficult.
At Vivobarefoot we believe feeling is vital: in life as well as in what we put on our feet. Our feet don’t need padding and cushioning. Our feet need to be free to feel, take risks and build strength and agility.
So give your kids – and their feet – a little bit more freedom.