Growing Up Too Fast, A Case for Play
Posted on Oct 28 2011 at 09:28:56 PM in K-12
There’s no denying that kids today just seem to grow up faster than they did in previous generations. The evidence is in the fact that we now have tech savvy toddlers and babies that can read. All around it seems like kids are in a constant rush to grow up, to be mature, and to give up playtime in exchange for more time devoted to learning, but maybe that’s not such a good thing.
Research shows that a worrying 1 in 2 moms (52%) across the world believe childhood as they know it is over, and 77% are concerned that kids today are growing up too fast.
By age 7 most kids already consider themselves tweens and would rather own a cell phone than a toy. Well-meaning parents can make the issue worse by helicoptering around their children throughout their lives, stepping in to alleviate any hardships that might come their way. By doing so they deny their child the frustration that usually accompanies growing up and maturing at the risk of them not being able to deal with the grownup decisions they are suddenly forced to make.
On the one hand we want them to grow into responsible adults, but on the other we don’t want them to have to deal with adult problems until they are older. Sadly this puts kids in a sort of responsibility limbo where they want to do more, but don’t want to deal with the responsibilities attached to their actions.
Along with growing up faster, kids are more stressed today then they have been in the past. They are more aware of the troubles of the world beyond their own homes. This stress can lead to eating disorders and depression. Experts speculate that stress could also be one of the reasons that childhood obesity continues to rise.
The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. Kids really can just be kids for awhile if their parents and other caregivers will learn to let them. One of the best ways to encourage your children to stay young is to let them play. Research has shown that unstructured outdoor play is an excellent way for children to stay happy and healthy.
Sadly due to time constraints and parental concerns about safety many kids don’t get the chance to play alone outside as much as they used to. Indoors they are more likely to spend time watching TV or using an electronic game than engaging in real imaginative play.
One way you can help combat this is to monitor your child’s screen time to make sure they have ample time for other activities, such as drawing, reading, or playing. Also, buy them open-ended toys that encourage their creativity from a young age so that they have more to pick from than electronic toys that play at them rather than allowing children to use their imaginations and create their own form of play.
This is one of those cases where just being aware of the problem and taking a proactive approach can do more good than all the precautions in the world. Society may expect your child to grow up too fast to appease marketers and testing standards, but ultimately it’s up to you to make sure your child gets the most they can from their childhood.