Let the Children Play…ALONE

Let the children playI’ve noticed a strange, and rather disturbing trend lately when I go to play areas with my daughter. The disturbing thing is called parents.

I absolutely believe that parents should be watching their small kids to make sure that they don’t get hurt, but they are way, way, way too involved in directing their play.

Last weekend I was at a play area where there were several miniature houses with brooms. There were pretend sheep and rakes. It was a great place for kids to pretend to be grown ups. The entire area was designed for children. Now, if only the grown ups would  leave them alone.

I saw a child pick up a broom and start sweeping outside the house to which his father replied, “Why don’t you sweep INSIDE the house?”

I saw a child climb on a tree stump that was about 6 inches tall and his mother wouldn’t move away from him. What was she afraid of?  That he would fall 6 inches onto the mulch covered ground?

I watched kids happily playing with other kids and the parents would say, “Did you see the buckets? Why don’t you go play with the buckets?”

How’s this for an idea….why don’t we just let the kids play. Let them play in ways that make sense to us. Let them play in ways that are absolutely nonsensical. Let them do one activity for 20 minutes or let them jump from one thing to another.

Let them create, discover, invent and be kids.

Play is not just fun and games. It’s how kids learn about their world. They try things out and make mistakes. This is their school, with one major difference….there actually are no rules in play.

You don’t actually have to follow the instructions on a Lego set. You can build whatever you want to.

You don’t have to sweep inside the house…you don’t even have to use the broom as a broom.

The playground is where kids learn how to solve problems…on their own. They settle disagreements with other kids…on their own. They fall six inches off tree stumps and decide that it’s kind of fun to tumble around. They fall 12 inches and learn that falling hurts, so maybe they should be more careful.

We are all familiar with helicopter parents. I’m not sure if this is the same thing or not. This isn’t about just hovering, it’s about inserting yourself where you don’t need to be, or worse, where you shouldn’t be.

Let them be kids. Let them discover and fall and struggle and create and learn and laugh….and play.

Please, just let them play.


Image by Brittany Randolph

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