The nanny state has issued various pieces of legislation and guidance that suggests that children should be treated like an unexploded bomb; wrapped in lots of cotton wool and handled with care, if at all!
Schools and organisations that deal with children have responded to the responsibility of keeping children safe by stopping them doing all those fun things they used to do. It’s time to look at things in a way that allows children to be children – and trains them to become sensible adults.
• Children are not yet competent in most things, therefore they need additional supervision, but they’ll never become competent if they don’t get the opportunity to learn.
• The adult’s role is to provide information, instruction, training and supervision; this is how children learn to cross the road – you don’t just stop them ever crossing a road.
• Children are a blank sheet and don’t understand risk so they do need educating, but not wrapping in cotton wool.
• If children are not allowed to experience risk, they will not understand it. That can mean that they will not recognise danger when they meet it and may not avoid it.
• Competence improves with age. You wouldn’t let a 2 year old near a kettle, but a 9 year old should be able to make tea safely if you’ve helped them to understand the dangers and the process.
• Children learn by play – even if they get bumps and bruises. Supervision should be as remote as possible, only intervening if there is a real risk of serious injury.
• Intuition play a big role in child safety – ask any mother; don’t ignore the sixth sense as well as using the other five intelligently.
It’s better to prepare children to deal with real life than to protect them from it and leave them unequipped to meet the hazards they will inevitably come up against as adults.