About Children's Self-Confidence

Not everyone sees or understands the benefits of getting children into nature and many parents dismiss the idea out of hand. This may come as a surprise the majority of parents who figure kids need a dose of nature and that outdoor recreation is an unqualified good. While it may be puzzling that parents would ignore the needs of children to get outdoors—and even object to its necessity—a significant number do just that and have multiple reasons for their decisions.

Some parents say that nature appreciation is a luxury of higher income families with ample leisure time. Others have strong fears: strangers, crime, getting lost. The strongest push for keeping children on an indoor track comes from those parents convinced of the need to succeed: academic success is paramount, and that means a lot of time indoors studying.

Being a “helicopter parent” or “Tiger Mom” is what it takes these days to raise children, not playing with them outdoors.

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The most hard-line of these parents are considered opposites of those with a “whole child” philosophy that encourages sensory expression, outdoor recreation and reconnecting with nature. Whenever I see my neighbor Kyle, 11, outside he is trudging to and from school with a backpack bulging with books and a laptop. Most of the time, though, Kyle spends indoors, video gaming, and, as his mother (a classic “Tiger Mom”) tells me, “doing lots of homework and taking a Spanish class and a computer programmer class online because the first year of middle school is critical for their success in life, you know.

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When I ask if Kyle, a shy, awkward boy, ever goes out and plays with his friends at the coastal nature preserve located two blocks away, his mother explains that “we don’t let him go anywhere that’s not safe—what with the snakes and strangers and all.” Kyle’s mother is not alone when it comes to parents worrying about the dangers of children playing outdoors and such free-form fun having a negative impact on their studies. According to the results of a recent survey by the advocacy group, Make Time 2 Play, nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of parents believe it is more dangerous to play outside now than when they were children. “Parents should try and step out of their comfort zone to strike the right balance between safety and encouraging children to play outdoors,” states Make Time 2 Play director Dr. Linda Papadopoulos.

She acknowledges that there is a measure of truth in the parents concerns and that while the degree of stranger danger may be exaggerated by media reports and the imaginations of parents, the fact that it is so top of mind, makes it increasingly difficult to get children into nature. The Make Time 2 Play survey tallied the top concerns parents had about playing outside: Stranger danger (56.8%), Inability to monitor children’s activities (38.9%), Outdoor play prevents children from studying (18.65%) Parents concerned about activities that might restrict their abilities to closely monitor their children’s activities tend to be wary of letting them get outdoors. Whether it’s backpacking with the Scouts or biking with friends across a nearby park, outdoor recreation is at odds with the parenting philosophy of parents who seek to control the environment around their children.

Unstructured play outdoors is frowned upon and anything can happen out in nature with all its dangers and the uncontrollable weather. So-called “helicopter parents” tend to avoid—or only reluctantly take their children into—the great outdoors. By Wikipedia definition, “A helicopter parent is a parent who pays extremely close attention to a child’s or children’s experiences and problems, particularly at educational institutions. Helicopter parents are so named because, like helicopters, they ‘hover overhead,’ overseeing every aspect of their child’s life constantly.” Some helicopter parents do take their children outdoors, slathering them with sunscreen and making sure they’re never hungry or thirsty, hovering over them as they take a swim, a hike or mountain bike ride.

More often though, nature has no place in their children’s lives and nurture is all about supporting academics. According to an article on helicopter parents in Psychology Today, they can correctly point studies that have shown that children of helicopter parents do better (have better study habits and as a result get better grades) in school. As for the nearly one-in-five parents who contend outdoor play prevents children from studying, their argument has a lot of traction in today’s success-driven society. Clearly a significant number parents regard time in nature as useless for their children’s development. Of what use are hiking, kayaking or camping skills in urban life?

Repeated surveys report that more than 80 percent of parents think that it is crucially important for their children to use technology. It’s all about success in school not fun in nature. Economics also play a factor. Two income families are common, with both parents working full-time. When weekends roll around, many parents say they are too tired to venture outdoors with their children and suggest indoor play has many of the same benefits as outdoor play. Running around the backyard or perhaps the local play park has the same benefits for the children burning off energy, these parents contend. Author Amy Chua in her “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” popularized the term “Tiger Mom” to describe Chinese-American mothers who push their children academically and in other ways because it’s the best way to parent.

Tiger Moms of all ethnicities embraced the term. Reconnecting with nature and outdoor recreation are off-path activities for success-driven parents and children. Chua and Tiger Moms across the country define success in their children in only one way: accomplishment. Moms must push children by any means necessary to succeed. The kinds of values and lessons children learn from being in nature—self reliance, tranquility, empathy for other creatures and so on, really don’t contribute to the bottom line: academically successful children. The idea of children “unplugging” is considered ridiculous by tiger moms and parents of similar stripe, and they are quick to point out the statistics that show kids driven to succeed are more accomplished than those who are not.

Cite this page

About Children's Self-Confidence. (2022, Apr 15). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/about-children-s-self-confidence-essay

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