Look at the game of dodgeball, for instance. This elementary gym class staple was nixed when my own kids were younger. Apparently somebody determined it was too dangerous or something.
Photo © 20th Century Fox 2004
I must respectfully disagree. Personally, there was nothing like the fear of getting hit by one of those missile-launching boys on the other team to inspire me to hone my dodging skills and build a little character.
Contests and competitions for kids are another case in point. "Let's not say there's a winner or loser, shall we? Let's just give EVERYONE a trophy for participating." Sorry kids, but in real life there will always be winners and losers. It's best to learn how to accept that and bounce back from it in a healthy way.
(Oh all right, coddling parental confession time here: The only way I motivated my now soccer-obsessed son to even try the sport was because he knew he would get a participation trophy in the end. Heh, heh.)
But there truly are situations where parental coddling isn't helping our children "grow up," such as allowing the child to dictate the rules concerning Internet access and computer use. I once attended an Internet safety talk and listened as one mother asked what she should do since her child refused to give his password to her. I'm serious! And I've personally witnessed several instances where parents are afraid to see their precious babies fail at something, even allowing a child to skip school on a test day in order to give him or her more time to prepare.
So while it's pretty obvious some of the coddling is not beneficial and definitely under parental control, in other ways, perceived coddling of kids today is also a result of the changed world we live in.
When my hubs and I were kids a few, er…decades ago, we could do things like hop over to a nearby park for a pickup game of baseball, or bike miles on deserted back roads to visit a friend's house to play. Today, it's not safe to allow our children to exercise these freedoms. Now everything is pre-arranged into official play dates and time-intensive organized sports teams.
My siblings and I grew up doing weekly chores which included feeding and caring for our dog (including potty runs); setting the table; doing the dishes; cleaning the bathrooms and toilets; dusting; vacuuming, etc. Hubs and I set up this nice comprehensive chore chart which is posted on our refrigerator with a dry-erase marker so jobs can be easily checked off as they're completed. Trouble is, days go by with nobody having the time to fit them in! Sports, after-school clubs and ridiculous homework loads (especially in the advanced classes) take up so much more time today than they did when I was a kid.
It's clear, we're not helping our kids become responsible, confident, contributing members of society by overindulging them and allowing them to slack on chores. But what's the answer? Should we reinstitute the game of dodgeball and go back to giving trophies to winners only? I'd like to hear your thoughts.
Do you coddle your children? What steps do you take to avoid overindulging your own kids?