Let a kid be a kid!

Below is an excellent article about safety and kids, and the potential problem that one has on the other.

Why Safe Kids Are Becoming Fat Kids

The author discusses several modern safety measures that didn’t exist when we were kids. The world has changed however. Kids no longer are encouraged to get outside and play. There is no freedom to explore and do the things that kids would naturally do. There are even certain school districts that have banned running at recess. Running has been deemed too dangerous! What the hell is wrong with our world!

When and why did the world become so soft? What happened to letting a kid live a little? Is it really that bad? As kids, we grew up outside. No one wanted to sit inside and play video games. We grew up playing baseball, tackle football, pick up basketball games, etc. We would have stayed out all night if sun didn’t go down.

Sure, there were times when I came home with bumps and bruises, but that was just part of growing up. Life isn’t supposed to be cake walk. Why fool kids and pretend that it is? If you never learn to take calculated risks as kids, how can you be expected to take calculated risks as adults? No one is suggesting that we all live recklessly, but there are times when it makes sense to go against the grain. Almost every successful person in this world did just that on his or her way to the top.

Today, we preach safety and sameness. Kids are always being reminded to take it easy. Don’t do this, don’t do that, be careful with this, be careful with that, etc. The outdoor fields are empty. When I take my son to the playground, we are usually alone. No one else is outside playing. Should it come as a surprise that adults in today’s world struggle with obesity?

What will come next? Will our kids be banned from going outside? Is it too dangerous? Should we all walk around with safety masks? Should we live inside protective bubbles?

The world needs to lighten up. A few bumps and bruises are the end of the world. There are much bigger problems faced by millions of people around the world. Let your kids live a little and get outside with them. Leading from the front is the only way to lead, and your kids will learn by watching you!


PS – Here are two related entries (here and here)

PPS – Yes, the image above is of me at age 9. What isn’t shown is me crashing into the floor after jumping off my bed in an attempt to look like I could fly. My brother was the remarkable camera man who was able to jump out of the way before I crashed into him. Nothing beats the good old days!


  1. Well put Ross. You brought back vivid memories of staying out late playing ball ’til you could no longer see the ball and then some!

  2. That pic looks like me at 9. I remember breaking my bunk bed from jumping off the top bunk onto the bottom one. I split my head open and needed stitches.

    When I was 4 I climbed on top of the bathroom sink and jumped off while my 3 year old brother watched. I landed, slipped, and smashed the back of my head on one of the bolts that held the toilet down to the floor. I ran to my mom with blood gushing out of my head. She freaked, I needed stitches.

    There was another time I tried to bodyslam my brother on the front steps of our old childhood home. Bricks and skulls don’t mix very well. I needed stitches that time too. My brother was miraculously unharmed……….

    Jeez, I could go on all day with the hijinks my brother and I got into. When I was little, I was a stuntman. I jumped off of everything I could while my brother egged me on. Trees, houses, cars……… if I could climb it, I would jump off of it.

    Today I am scared to death of heights. Go figure!

  3. Two words: Liability Lawsuits

    The schools, park districts, and such, are so terrified of being sued by overreacting parents, that they are taking over-extreme measures to make sure that no precious little snowflake gets a boo-boo on their property. The insurance companies are of no help, they just cave and settle out of court, and raise the rates for their client, instead of taking these cases to court and getting them laughed out by the judge.

    True story, I was at an Ikea the other day, and out in the loading zone, a boy of about 9 years old was taking a few running steps and jumping up on the 2 foot high “bumper” that keeps cars from backing too far over the sidewalk. The response from his mother? “Stop doing that, I don’t feel like suing Ikea today.” Really?

    It’s all just a part of the larger problem of the loss of personal accountability in today’s society, but that’s a rant for another time.

  4. I broke several bones as a kid, and to me that was perfectly normal.
    Most kids i know broke at least one.

    Its almost a joke, but i can see it happening over here in the uk. Scholls rarely do day trips anymore for the reasons of liability… teachers dont get the support required so they are too afraid to do it.


  6. Hey Ross it’s your boy Chuck!

    Wow man you havn’t missed a beat. You were flying then & still flying till this day. People, did you see the pics of Ross in the (Never Gymless manual) of him doing a knee tuck? Damn Ross you got some good a** Hangtime man & in this pic above you sure looked like you were reaching for maximum air time as well, yo go Ross. lol. As to the message in this i feel you Ross, as always you hit the truth with everything you say. I’m not a parent but i feel what your saying man. What’s life without a little adventure, right? Again people all praise to to the King of Kings. We love you coach.

  7. Well said. I remember being in elementary school… every day during recess during 4th grade we would head out to the playground and play tag. It was great because you could jump from obstacle to obstacle and try to out run, out smart, and out-maneuver one another to succeed. 5th grade rolled around and we weren’t allowed to play tag on the playground anymore. We tried playing it out on the field for a little bit, but then they told us we couldn’t play there either. Then we tried wall-ball, where you get a rubber ball and throw it against the wall and someone else fields the ball and if you screw up you have to run to the wall before someone hits the wall with the ball or else you were out. That didn’t last long either… someone could get hit with the ball (omg the end of the world! a kid got hit with a rubber ball that was thrown by a 10 year old!), so we had to stop. We played anyway and had to sit out of recess for a week.

    Then they got rid of dodgeball in gym.

    Then in junior high, they wouldn’t let us play baseball during gym because it was too dangerous. Eventually, we stopped playing touch football. Pretty soon, all we were playing was volley ball, tennis, or track (i.e. running around in circles, though most people just walked really fast).

    It’s really amazing.

    But even with all those restrictions in school, I tended to get hurt fairly regularly. I was always known for my ability to trip on air and run into inanimate objects and I think I fell off my bike at least once a week in a comical fashion. I was always coming home with cuts and bruises and scrapes and things… it drove my mom nuts but it’s not the end of the world.

  8. Thanks for posting this Ross. I sent a copy of what you wrote to my wife, who is very overprotective of my son. She loves that boy with all of her heart but I don’t think she realizes that protecting him too much will actually do him harm in life. I give him a very long rope and he is maturing right before my eyes. As I tell my wife, we are raising a boy to be a man!

  9. This is a topic, all stemming from the above article that’s getting a lot of play on various forums.

    Until we get past the insanity of our litigation society, our least common denominator society, our survival of the least fit society, our zero impact living- we’re just doomed. Life happens through impact. Animal life isn’t all happy sleepy hibernation- it’s living, breathing, bleeding-

    My best memories of youth involve some pretty spectacular bruises and breaks!


  10. Hey Ross,

    Great post. I can remember all the times my brother and I spent wrestling in the back yard, playing road hockey, baseball, or soccer in our backyard also. It may not have been the biggest athletics event but it was a great time. We used to jump off our shed onto the ground, pretend to do elbow drops off my dresser onto the bed and all sorts of things. It was a great time and kept us active. Not only that but a little adventure is very necessary in a kids life.

  11. Man, so true. I would get together with a couple of friends by meeting at a park, and there was almost no one there. I remember one week there being one, maybe two other people besides us. It’s summer vacation!!! And no one’s at the park?

    If kids aren’t allowed to run around for recess, maybe we should all cut off our legs and give them to charity.

    lol nice picture BTW.

  12. Amen, Ross.
    I am also on a tear about how soft the kids have gotten. On my sons 5th grade football team, 5 kids weighed in at OVER 200 pounds!
    Some can not get into a three point stance.

    Take Ross’ advice and get your kids outside. Hike, walk, swim, fish with them together and demand that they have some unstructured time outside to figure out some way to entertain themselves. Restrict video games and TV.

    Good Job Ross…Great post!

  13. I remember staying out past curfew during summers playing bball with my friends. we stayed until the court lights went out.

    I would come home dirty, maybe have some cuts and bruises. I’d go to bed, wake up and shower and repeat the process.

    Now, during the summers I work at a sports camp and its frightening and quite sad to see kids who would rather spend time playing video games instead of being outside and playing games or sports…I can’t get it through my head. Its a shame to see. But I can hold my head high and know that if I can get through some of the kids and get them to be more active, then I know i’ve done a good job.

  14. Once more agreed, Ross!
    I often wondered about this problem. It’s exactly the same thing in Germany but without the excessive lawsuit possibilities. As a teacher I know it’s hard to motivate the students for even just a few miles WALK. Most of them would rather go to McD on excursions than anywhere else. Which brought me to force them to go for a walk in the woods or elsewhere through natural landscapes. Not very astonishing, it mostly ends up a good and learning experience for most of them.
    Kids and teenagers just need a little push in other than the most convenient direction. Our kids need guidance and care (which naturally involves taking risks), which I see a lot of parents can’t provide accurately anymore.
    My reaction to that fact is to teach my students as much as possible to make them think and decide for themselves in a reasonable and friendly way, to be aware of their possibilities. That is my little attempt to better the world, and, from time to time, it seems to work.
    Anyway, often times the things you mention, Ross, are plain common sense and it scares me that the majority just gets along without.

  15. I’m glad you give this problem some extra attention. Because it really is a worldwide problem!
    I live in Belgium, and altough we are always ten years behind on the USA, I sea the same thing happening. Playing outside seems to be illegal!
    Recently, a popular magazine wrote a series of articles on ‘the child in the woods’, or how that child doesn’t exist anymore.
    I can’t imagine my childhood without playing outside and exploring the nearby woods. And altough I’m only 19 years old, times sure have changed dramatically! Parents are affraid of pedosexuals and other problems exagerated by the media (twenty years ago, pedosexuals existed as well, but the media didn’t pay as much attention to this very small minority).

    I fear obesity will – in the near future – conquer Belgium as well as the USA…

  16. Wow!!!
    We were never allowed to sit around inside, at home or school. If you didn’t play sport or do something physically challenging people thought there was something wrong with you.
    I believe they were right!
    No running in some schools??? Show me a kid who doesn’t love to run…

  17. I feel the very same fustrations about this. I think it’s stupid that I have to tell my kids not to let their friends not to climb the tree on my property because I know that if one were hurt badly their parents would hit my insurance full force. I can barely afford to pay my mortgage as high as it is already. My kids don’t understand my logic so I try to explain it to them. The poor guys try to get it, but I don’t think that it’s fair. I never had to worry about that kind of crap when I was a kid. My poor labrador suffers too, lots of little tikes come onto my property and I worry if he knocked one over onto the cement what that would mean? I always have to get onto the boys for teaching him to jump onto their chest. Maybe on day people will come to their senses and learn to settle things like my fathers generation instead of calling their lawyers.

  18. Luckily the “art of suing” has not reached Sweden the same way as in America and health care is universal so there is no need for me to fear going bankrupt from other kids playing and bruising in my yard. Here it’s more a matter of media fear mongering and general lazyness both by parents and kids that keep a lot of them indoors.
    I have a group of kids I teach outdoor/wilderness skills to and they love every minute of it and so do the parents that tag along.

  19. I have to say that I would be very fucked up today if I had not had the childhood I had. In many ways physiological, spriritual, emotional and mental, playing outside as much as I could, whenever I could, with or without that huge bunch of my friends, has given me the ability to grasp and access different perspectives that a normal adult should have.

    I used to play anything that the minds of my friends and my own can conceive. Like rounders, a cousin of softball. We didn’t have fancy baseball bats and balls, so we made do we what we could find. A plank of wood for a bat, stones and rolled up paper for balls. We ran like crazy, climbed everything we could climb, the whole works. We conquered even construction sites. On barefoot.

    We played in the drains too (it was way cleaner back then). The small drains in residential areas in Malaysia are shaped like a ‘v’, don’t know about other places. So we placed our feet on the sides inside the drain and walked around in it and played ‘Sultan’ à la Age of the Malaccan Sultanate centuries ago. That kind of ‘game’ did a lot for our ability to not only preserve but also cultivate creativity.

    Those days were heaven. I pity the kids today. I wish they know what they’re missing.

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