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Nanny’s Take on Playgrounds

Many of us fondly remember playing on neighborhood or schoolyard playgrounds when we were kids.  Twister slides, monkey bars, and other large metal playground equipment provided thrills as we climbed to daring heights and showed our courage and skill as we maneuvered the equipment successfully (usually). 

But because of concern for broken bones, cuts, bruises, and head injuries, child safety advocates have had many of these dinosaurs of childhood recreation removed from playgrounds.  Installed in their stead is safer equipment.  Slides are lower and typically plastic.  Short plastic tunnels and other structures take the place of monkey bars.  And playgrounds become safer for all.

But is that a good thing?  Surely safety is a good thing.  After all, who WANTS to get hurt?  And we, as nannies, are responsible for safeguarding the children in our care.  Still, we need to think about the message we send to our children.  We are responsible for helping the children in our care learn how to cope with the “real world”.  The world isn’t perfectly safe.  If we teach our children to isolate themselves from all potential danger to the best of their ability, we will create risk-averse children who take few chances and live in fear of harm.  That’s surely not what we want.

Perhaps the better solution is to allow a calculated amount of risk; teach our children to choose safe behaviors within an environment of calculated risk; and to let the children learn that being hurt occasionally is ok because they are resilient, they can heal and go on to play again. 

Life happens.  I want the children in my care to embrace that.

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