“Spontaneous unregulated play in neighbourhood spaces, particularly in affluent areas of cities, is becoming an activity of the past. Children have lost access to traditional play areas including streets and wild spaces. This is due in part to: 1. Parental fear of: traffic, bullying and stranger danger, 2. Loss of natural spaces for play, 3. Perceptions of what is best for children. As a result, children are encouraged to participate in regulated play environments in homes or commercial “play and recreation.”
“What’s lost amid all this protection? In the mid-1990s, Norway passed a law that required playgrounds to meet certain safety standards. Ellen Sandseter, a professor of early-childhood education at Queen Maud University College in Trondheim, had just had her first child, and she watched as one by one the playgrounds in her neighborhood were transformed into sterile, boring places”.
“On her first morning in America, last summer, my daughter went out to explore her new neighborhood — alone, without even telling my wife or me. Of course we were worried; we had just moved from Berlin, and she was just 8. But when she came home, we realized we had no reason to panic. Beaming with pride, she told us and her older sister how she had discovered the little park around the corner, and had made friends with a few local dog owners. She had taken possession of her new environment, and was keen to teach us things we didn’t know. When this story comes up in conversations with American friends, we are usually met with polite disbelief. “
What worry me most are the examples of overparenting that have the potential to ruin a child’s confidence and undermine an education in independence. According to the authors, parents guilty of this kind of overparenting “take their child’s perception as truth, regardless of the facts,” and are “quick to believe their child over the adult and deny the possibility that their child was at fault or would even do something of that nature.”