Clean Kid Syndrome - Does Your Child Suffer from it?

The learning and development of Australian kids is under threat because they're not playing outdoors, engaging in constructive, creative play.

A nationwide Newspoll survey revealed that the average kid is spending at most, just 10 percent of their free time playing outdoors at home. Alarmingly one in 20 parents (5%) admits when their kids are at home they NEVER play outdoors. Instead the majority of Australian kids are spending far more time indoors, watching television, playing computer games or playing with toys.

Years of research shows that constructive play is an essential part of fostering inquisitive and strong minds. Playing outdoors is therefore key to normal development and lack of exposure to this kind of experience may put some children at a disadvantage.

Getting messy is how they learn, explore and express their creativity. It also helps them to stay healthy by encouraging them to exercise and by bolstering their immune system. Importantly it is through play that children learn to explore

The Newspoll study has revealed that the 'clean kid' syndrome is widespread. Two in five kids (40%) are permitted by their parents to get dirty no more than two or three times per week.

And, according to the research it's mainly because their parents are concerned about their child's safety, but also because they're worried about cleaning up any mess their kids make.

Almost all those parents polled (96%) said they wanted their kids to excel at school, in sport and socially, yet they're reluctant to let them kids get their hands dirty. One in four (23%) youngsters never get the chance to get messed up indoors either by cooking or doing craft activities.

It is clear also that Australian parents underestimate the benefits of free, unrestricted play for children as most would prefer their children to do homework than play outside.

So, just how restrictive has outdoor play become for Australia's youngest generation? Six in ten (62%) parents claim that as kids they spent more time playing outdoors getting dirty than their own children do now, including three in ten who spent more than twice as much time outdoors getting dirty as their children.

There is a clear need to rethink how children spend their free time and how their lives are organised. Australian parents are a well-intentioned, anxious, misinformed group. We all care greatly about our children's futures however in an effort to give them the best possible start in life we are run the danger of robbing of them of childhood that we are trying to protect.

For too long Australian parents have been fed the message that they need to start their children on the educational track from an early age. So kids from as young as two are routinely shunted around from one organised activity to another in an effort to maximise their development.

Parents need to be encouraged to buck the 'clean kid' trend and be less anxious about their kids getting messy. But where to start?

Let's start by insisting kids turn off the TV or computer and get outside more often. In a back to the future move let's introduce some old-fashioned activities such as finger painting, making mudpies, leaf stencilling and generally mucking all in the name of good clean fun.

Importantly, parents need to value the simple interactions that they have with children on a daily basis such as cleaning up a spill together or making a bed. From my experience parents underestimate the positive impact that these ordinary interactions have on children.

And it would be good for the well-being of both parents and kids if they spent some time getting down and dirty together. My hunch is that most parents do this anyway but they just don't value these messy experiences enough.

Michael Grose is Australia's leading parenting educator. He is the author of six books and gives over 100 presentations a year and appears regularly on television, radio and in print.

For further ideas to help you raise happy children and resilient teenagers visit http://www.parentingideas.com.au . While you are there subscribe to Happy Kids newsletter and receive a free report Seven ways to beat sibling rivalry.

In The News:


TMZ.com

Fergie I've Got a Handle On Single Parenting
TMZ.com
Fergie is successfully juggling motherhood and career ... by bringing her little man to work with her. Fergie was at a NYC radio station Monday morning holding on to her son, Axl Jack, who's been going back and forth between mom and dad. Josh Duhamel ...
Fergie & Son Axl Enjoy a 'Date Night' After Her Split From Josh DuhamelSheKnows.com

all 57 news articles »

Parenting and the Synagogue
HuffPost
Rosh Hashana is the Jewish New Year and it comes rife with all the feelings the secular New Year comes with- feelings of renewal and of fresh starts and of “this year will be different”. As I sat (briefly) in synagogue, the tunes of my childhood ...


NRToday.com

Avoid helicopter parenting
NRToday.com
Helicopter parenting may seem like parents are simply being overprotective, but such an approach might have a serious impact. Many therapists say that parents need to get over being overly involved; otherwise, they risk potential psychological damage ...


HuffPost

The Only Parenting Advice I'd Dare To Give
HuffPost
My eldest started school last week. And it was time for me to think about my life. My role. My priorities. I am always holding back when it comes to giving parenting advice. But today, I feel the need to write. To share my thoughts with you. Today, for ...


NOLA.com

A little PG-13 parenting advice, from one fed-up New Orleans man
NOLA.com
Eddie Lee Johnson smiles as he poses next to a hand-lettered sign he created to ward off pesky kids in his neighborhood on the edge of Mid-City. Eddie Lee Johnson smiles as he poses next to a hand-lettered sign he created to ward off pesky kids in his ...


Foster parenting course to start
The Hutchinson News
Saint Francis Community Services will begin a 10-week course for those interested in exploring foster parenthood. The program is free and the first class is scheduled for 6 p.m. today at 501 N. Monroe St. More than 60 Reno County children must stay in ...


HuffPost

This Is Why You Need to Stop Justifying Your Parenting Choices
HuffPost
Over the past week, I've been thinking about a conversation I had with a friend recently. We were at a play date, with a bunch of other moms and their kids. The conversation turned, as it often does, to the stories of how our kids were born. I ...


UF kicks off 7-part series focused on parenting
The Courier
The University of Findlay's psychology program will be offering “Raising Kids Today,” a seven-part series of free information sessions to assist caregivers with raising children, beginning Wednesday. The talks, held in Old Main's Ritz Auditorium, will ...


Hollywood Reporter

Pamela Adlon Jokes About Parenting: "IF—ed Up" Until My Daughters Were 8
Hollywood Reporter
In real life, paparazzi have had a field day catching the actress' teen daughter Odessa's tender moments, hand-holding with new beau Jaden Smith. Teens can be a handful. Just ask Better Things co-creator and Emmy-nominated star Pamela Adlon.


Washington Post

Parenting books won't end your anxiety. Here's what to do instead ...
Washington Post
Q: As a general rule, I manage my parenting anxiety by not reading parenting books. It's too much contradictory information, and I get nuts about it. I've found that ...

and more »
Google News

Nanny 911 and Disciplining Your Child

Nanny 911 Interview with Montel WilliamsI saw an interview with... Read More

Study Skills - How Can YOU Help Your Kids?

Some years ago when touring the Scottish Highlands, a man... Read More

Develop Your Childs Genius - Developing Leadership Qualities

Often I have heard that leaders are born, not made.... Read More

Picky Eater - Fighting the Good Fight

Often, the struggle at dinnertime with your picky eater is... Read More

Fuzzy Names, Sweet Names

As with everything, names go through cycles of change with... Read More

The Truth Behind Having Children

In the beginning, having children was just a byproduct of... Read More

Blended Families Can Be Successful

Many families today are blending members from past relationships. It... Read More

Teach Your Children - Without Them Knowing They Are Learning!

The great thing about children is they absorb knowledge like... Read More

Examining Drugs for ADHD, Particularly Strattera

In memory of 14 year old Matthew Smith; 11 year... Read More

Building Your Childs Self-Esteem

According to researchers, most children enter school with a good... Read More

The ABCs of Raising Twins

As a mother of two sets of fraternal boy/girl twins,... Read More

Use Encouragement Instead of Criticism to Help Children Improve

Criticism is punitiveOur children judge themselves on the opinions we... Read More

Bullies

Bullies are an ugly but very real part of childhood.... Read More

Pet Loss Can Be Just As Devastating!

'And all because of a damned cat! It's only a... Read More

The Top 10 Tips on Hiring a Babysitter

1. Encourage your babysitter by keeping their favorite foods/snacks on... Read More

Top 5 Characteristics of Good Leadership to Instill in Our Home School Children

I am sure that this list can be jogged and... Read More

Adolescence - Clues and Advice

Be sure to respect the intellectual changes that mark adolescence.... Read More

Normal and Logical Consequences

Successful parents have learned to be both firm and kind... Read More

Ten Helpful Little Tips For New Parents

The Greatest Gifts in Life, which are always created for... Read More

Help My Preteen/Teenager is Driving Me Nuts!

Do you feel like someone has abducted your sweet, innocent... Read More

Family Meetings Are Now On The Agenda

"Not another meeting!"That tends to be the reaction from many... Read More

Life Lessons Learned in My Underwear

For several years now, I've told the following story as... Read More

The Personality of a Virgo Child

Your Virgo Baby..August 23 - September 22Virgo children are honest... Read More

A Dads Thoughts On Dads day

21 Reasons I Love Being A DadWhat you will read... Read More

7 Ways to Know Your Child

How well do you really know your child?There is so... Read More