As a 16 year-old, I have grown up in a time of increasing sanitisation. Personally, I think that I’ve had it reasonably fair, but some kids today are having their body’s wrapped in cotton wool and their eyes and ears covered with bubble wrap.

I don’t profess to being a parenting expert as obviously I’m only a teenager, however being so young and having the real experience of being a child in the 21st century might let me comment on the ways that adults present their children with incoherent versions of the world for the benefit of supposedly ‘keeping their kids safe’.

Life is a tough gig and nothing you receive in life comes easy. Kids involved in activities and sports are currently receiving medals just for trying, while the children who win things are increasingly not being recognised and being encouraged not to brag about their achievements.

Don’t get me wrong, it is fantastic that the rate of children participating in activities is increasing after dropping in recent years, but if we truly are preparing children for the real world we must teach them that there are winners and losers in the real world.

If key businessmen got trophies just for being in their job and not meeting their KPI’s was rewarded with a ribbon with ‘at least you tried’ emblazoned on it, society would falter. There would be no motivation to do well.

Making success a big deal is a must. It is very important that children are taught the social values of being humble, but at the same time successful kids need to be able to bask in their glory.

The AFL has recently proposed rules that change the way junior football is played. Under 11’s and age groups down will no longer play for premiership points while playing fields will also be shortened along with the number of players on the field from 18 to as low as 12.

Changing the rules will do absolutely nothing. When I was playing my first year of football, scores were not kept and tackling was prohibited, however every player on the field knew exactly what the scores were. There is always a winner and a loser.

Clubs in my local area will have major troubles if the number of players on the field is reduced. Beleura Junior Football Club already has four under 10’s teams full of 20 players. If the AFL limits the amount of players to 12, Beleura will have to field eight teams.

To their credit, the AFL has relaxed the age to begin tackling from under 13’s to under 11’s. No doubt this decision will alarm some parents, but is it really as bad as it seems?

Bruises and broken arms are nothing compared to the real world of divorces and murders. Parents must embrace risk taking for their children as it is better to learn rights and wrongs now than during their adulthood.

“Jimmy’s parents are suing the school for his broken fingernail, leading to the removal of the playground.”

This really isn’t too far from the truth. Soon, kids will roam the school at lunch and have nothing to do. Sports will be banned due to their risk-taking nature and children will be incredibly unfit.

Kids have to enjoy going to school. If they don’t have fun at lunchtimes they’ll be miserable and become anxious and depressed, which will lead to a drop in attention during class time, thus leading to our kids being less educated.

It is a long bow to draw but the facts are there.

A study of an Auckland primary school shows that when children are allowed to do whatever they want at recess, attention in class increases and injuries, bullying and vandalism actually drop.

Education is an essential part of children’s lives. They are the leaders of the next generation and must be well educated to ensure the right decisions are made in the future.

Overprotective parents are however, not allowing their children to watch TV or listen to the radio. They’re worried their children might hear something not age appropriate and then ask their parents about it.

From personal experience, TV and radio has definitely contributed to my education. I’d hear a new word and ask Mum the meaning, extending my vocabulary. TV and radio have also helped me understand the world better. With key issues concerning politics and more frequently appearing, my knowledge was broadened.

The first and foremost need of children is for them to be happy. If they are not then something is wrong.

Parents these days focus too much on the negative and not enough on the positive. Sure, with parenting being such a tough job, no one is perfect but we must allow kids some freedom and not sanitise the world they live in to the extent that they are perfect.

Do this and they’ll get a big shock when the real world comes knocking.

Written by Sam Mills

19. Sports lover and aspiring journalist. Proud Melburnian. @OnlyMillsy on Twitter.

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