I was reading an interview with Lenore Skenazy on Salon the other day. With her new book out (Free-Range Kids: Giving Our Children the Freedom We Had Without Going Nuts with Worry), I’m seeing a lot of stuff about her.
It just amazes me how overprotective parents can be.
The first product mentioned as an example of things overprotective parents buy was a helmet called a Thudguard. It’s intended for toddlers, so that they can learn to walk without bumping their heads.
I can tell you those are a really bad idea. Yes, toddlers bump their heads and get bruises. But if they don’t hurt themselves in small ways when they’re little they’re going to get quite a shock when they’re bigger.
My son wore a helmet for a few months as an infant. Not because I was trying to protect his head but because he had craniosynostosis and the helmets were to reshape his skull. But I would expect one effect would be the same as putting an unnecessary helmet on a toddler – my son was completely shocked when he learned that he could hurt his head.
The first day his helmet was off, he bumped his head in a way he had many times before. He was crawling by this point, and used to being able to go straight into a wall if he felt like it, or just drop his head down when he was tired.
It took him a few days to get used to the fact that bumping his head hurt. Now why would you want a slightly older child to not understand this? Better when they’re small and the bumps (and yes, the bruises) will be more minor than when the child is older!
Then there are the baby knee pads. Yes, you too can protect your poor baby’s knees from the horror of carpet burn!
Sorry, my eyes just rolled when I found out about these. Once again, where’s the need? Baby knees are made for crawling on. I think they can cope with the little bit rug burn or scrapes they might get in the process. It’s not something that’s going to really hurt them.
I’m all for protecting kids when they need it, but most children do not need to be protected from such minor injuries. If there’s a specific reason they need extra protection, fine, but not for most kids.
Better they figure out now what doesn’t feel good than they develop the notion that they can’t get hurt.