Babyproofing Paranoia Runs Deep ... Even Into Adolescence
Submitted by sara
I think I have just found the most ridiculous baby product ever made: baby kneepads. Yep, that's right, baby kneepads. As I stood in the babyproofing aisle, I was truly amazed to discover that I could protect my daughter's knees from the harshest of all baby stages: crawling. How badly are babies hurting themselves that there is a demand for this product?
The existence of baby kneepads bolsters my belief that we are sheltering our children from too much in this world. Don't get me wrong: I think we need to put in socket protectors, and put locks on cabinets and drawers with knives and medicine, and turn down our water heaters, etc. But baby proofing has gotten excessive these days. We try to shield our kids from every conceivable bump, bruise and scratch that they may get in the process of learning to walk and explore the world.
Failing is a part of learning. Getting a couple of bumps and bruises is part of growing up. How will kids ever learn how to do something right if they never get a chance to make mistakes?
OK, so maybe I'm a little paranoid about paranoia, but I see this constantly. As parents, we all want to build our child's self-esteem, but healthy self-esteem can handle failure. Kids with healthy self-esteem can recognize their talents and gifts and also know which areas they're weak in. I think we do more harm than good when we don't allow our kids to play a sport where they might lose. What message are we really sending our children? If they're not allowed to fail, we're telling them that their self-esteem should be entirely based on performance instead of their intrinsic worth as people. This leads to not taking risks for fear of failing.
This is the downward spiral I see start with excessive baby proofing. We don't allow our children to play on the "highly" dangerous playground. We have them play sports where scores aren't kept because we don't want winners and losers. School programs for challenged and talented kids are taken away so no one feels different from anyone else. Kids go to high schools where just turning in an assignment automatically earns them an A regardless of quality. Then they enter the work world not knowing how to compete or contribute in any meaningful way.
So, please let's throw out the baby kneepads with the bathwater and allow our kids to bruise. Then maybe they can learn how to walk.