Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Tag, You're (not) It!

(Or, "It's My Blog, So I'll Rant if I Want To!")

I heard on the radio, the other morning, that a growing number of school districts around the country have banned kids from playing tag on the playground. Their reasons? First, the kids could get hurt; and second, "it causes self-esteem issues among the weaker and slower children." (FOXNews)

Now, I'm the first to be there, scooping up some kiddo who has fallen and hurt herself, wiping tears, plastering band-aids and offering kisses. Who doesn't hate to see a child get hurt?! On the other hand, scraped knees are as much a part of childhood as runny noses. And isn't tag a pretty benign introduction to the concept of winning and losing? ABC News did an unscientific poll of youngsters: Should tag be banned at school? Their response was a resounding "no." One kid summed it up this way: "You'll have nothing to do if they ban tag, because it's just not fun without tag." (ABC News)

I don't think anyone invented tag. No one has to teach it to a child. Running and chasing are instinctive activities to human children. Playing a game like tag helps kids learn to resolve disputes and to problem-solve on their own, not to mention the physical activity it encourages. I remember, for instance, all the rules that evolved on the playground because we, the kids, saw a need, agreed upon a solution and, then, enforced "our" rules. And if a child really is stressed out over tag, won't he/she naturally gravitate away from that game and on to the monkey bars, jump rope, or some other playground activity?

I feel sorry for kids today, in many ways. The "carefree days of childhood" are becoming a thing of the past (I know this is a generality, and not applicable to every mother's child). Their days, now, are over-scheduled, over-managed, over-analyzed and over-tested (don't get me going on that last one). Their days are lacking in free time, down time, spontaneity, and adventure.

Some of this reduced freedom is unavoidable and even prudent, because of dangers in today's society; I certainly understand that. But, as the adage goes, let's not throw the baby out with the bath water. Teach the kids about stranger danger. Be diligent in supervision. Know where your children are. Know their teacher, their friends and their friends' parents. But, for goodness sake (no, for their sake), let them play tag!

1 comment:

Betty said...

So true! Well said Linda. It´s too bad these kids don´t have the freedom of innocent days past.