Christopher's response was, "but mama, we're not allowed to hug people in school." I said, "you're not?" And he said, "yes no hugs." I have to admit I thought that was a little sad. And it got me thinking too.
I've heard a lot of stories in the news lately about how schools are creating rigid rules that are designed to keep kids safe but I wonder if they're just a little bit over the top? Here is a quick list of some of the things that I've heard are being banned in US public schools now:
- Dodge Ball (because kids could get hurt)
- Post game handshakes and Tag (because a fight could break out)
- Playing with balls during recess
- Sharing lunches (because some kid might have an allergic reaction)
- Hugging (because it could turn into inappropriate touching)
- Party Invitations (because a child's feelings might get hurt if they aren't invited)
- Homemade lunches (because the school believes it can provide healthier food choices)
- Milk (seriously?)
I tend to think some of this is over the top. I was allowed to hug my friends when I was little and I turned out okay. We also got to play dodge ball, four square, kick ball and all sorts of other sports with balls and to my knowledge, no one was ever seriously hurt playing outside during recess.
A friend posted an article on Facebook about a month ago, about a school in New Zealand that is going the opposite route with kids. They are letting kids go outside and have fun without a ton of rules and are finding that the kids are paying more attention in class and that bullying and vandalism are down in numbers.
Why? I think it's because kids are allowed to get their energy out (instead of sitting for long periods of time without break) and they are learning how to make mistakes in a safe, structured environment. When we act like helicopter parents (or in this case helicopter teachers and administrators) our kids don't have the opportunity to work through situations on their own.
According to the article: "AUT professor of public health Grant Schofield, who worked on the team leading the study, said children develop their brain's frontal lobe when they are taking risks, which allows them to calculate consequences."
So basically what he is saying that when we coddle our children we aren't letting their brains develop correctly. That's a little scary to think about as a parent.
Someday our kids are going to grow up and they're going to have to make big decisions that will have consequences for themselves and for others. Isn't it better to teach kids to discern right from wrong now than to wait for them to be out in the great big world and have to say, now what?
My own son is very impulsive. This comes from his years in foster care and I genuinely think because of all the trauma he experienced, that his brain didn't quite develop correctly. I will say that with lots of work on my part, as well as on the part of his teachers and of his therapy team, that he is doing much much better. I mean seriously much better. There was a time that I would worry about Christopher opening the front door and running out into the street. Now I don't worry about that at all because his brain development has definitely caught up with his age. He has not liked all the time outs he gets for making bad choices. But he's learning and that's what I want for my child. I do think that the schools are short-changing our kids a bit by enforcing so many rules. Kids will be kids...if we let them.