We hear a lot about child rearing these days. Gone is the era when parents never overthought the upbringing of their kids at all and we existed on a diet of benign neglect and jam sandwiches. Now parents have books like Toddler Taming, and Bringing Up Boys to guide them through their parenting challenges. But despite us never being more invested in our children’s futures, there is much to suggest that the overthinking of parenting hasn’t really helped our small people navigate the world any better, and indeed with so many children and adolescents expressing feelings of stress and anxiety, it’s hard to believe that we have yet to get the balance right.
The natural habitat of children has changed, even though they have far more stimulation from toys and technology. One of the biggest differences in childhood nowadays is that children have moved from spending huge amounts of their time outdoors, engaging in free play and physical activity, to spending most of their time indoors engaged in structured play and sedentary activity. This has had a profound effect on them in terms of their imagination. Their resilience. Their ability to amuse themselves and not require instant gratification or attention. But what I really want to talk about is the effect on their core motor skills.
Children since the year dot have climbed trees and played chasing. Kicked a ball. Played hopscotch or skipping. And generally enjoyed physical rough and tumble. We never really considered what that meant in terms of their development, so commonplace was it – but they acquired core skills. And the reason we know that, is now that they no longer do it, they have lost those skills.
So, in a recent study carried out by the DCU, it…