Your Kids Are Too Clean 5: Things to Know About Kids This Week

Our curated list of kid-related news for June 3, 2016.

Parker Barry
  • Playing in the Sandbox1. I’ll take some dirt with that. Are you constantly reminding your kid to stay out of the dirt and to wash their hands? Actually, kids might not be getting enough contact with soil. “Parents today are keeping their children away from the things that are critical to their health,” said Dr. Maya Shetreat-Klein, a pediatric neurologist. The U.K.-based publication The Telegraph featured an article this week about her new book “Healthy Food, Healthy Gut, Happy Child,” in which Shetreat-Klein suggests that “cleaning products, pesticides and antibiotics” are overly sanitizing kids’ lives. The article cited research that has shown “children exposed to bleach actually have more, not fewer infections — including a 20 percent higher risk of coming down with the flu.” (Let them eat dirt! Our obsession with hygiene is jeopardizing our children’s health)
  • 2. When parents look away. The recent incident of the child who climbed into a gorilla’s enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo — which led to the gorilla being shot dead — has raised the question: How well are parents watching kids in potentially dangerous situations? Kj Dell’Antonia explored the controversial topic in the New York Times’ Well Blog: “For parents who are raising a risk-taking child, the story gives us pause. We know most trips out of the house require extra precautions. Closed doors and barred gates are like beacons to some kids, just waiting to be breached or climbed.” Dell’Antonia quoted Cindi Andrews, who is a mom and the opinion editor at The Cincinnati Enquirer: “Raising a child to age 18 means maneuvering him or her safely through more than 567 million seconds. And it only takes one of those seconds for something to go terribly awry.” (Who’s to blame when a child wanders at the zoo?)
  • 3. Toddler discrimination? Anti-toddler staff in restaurants and hotels can be a real downer for parents, and it’s probably a downer for the little ones who likely sense it, too. Freelance journalist and mom of a toddler Whitney Pipkin lamented what she calls “toddler discrimination” at restaurants and on Airbnb for The Washington Post: “Technically, Airbnb’s discrimination clause makes it illegal for a host to refuse our reservation because of age — my daughter’s as much as mine. So why, instead of saying as much, did I find myself offering to drink red wine from a Nalgene bottle (‘Adult sippy cups!’ the host mused in response) to prevent a dreaded spill? Why do I find myself avoiding restaurants where I know our arrival will be met with grimaces, even if my toddler’s track record shows she can behave just fine in public?” (Parents and toddlers have a right to vacations and meals out, too)
  • 4. Sports aren’t fun, so I quit. It’s not that simple Recent reports suggest that more than 70 percent of kids quit sports by age 13 simply because they’re no longer having fun. But those reports aren’t digging deep enough, said public health teacher and mom blogger Julianna Miner. Writing for the Washington Post this week, Miner says the overall culture of U.S. sports for teens has developed barriers that keep many kids from continuing. Too many sports become geared toward only the best athletes, they’re pressure-packed, and many teams require a huge time commitment for practices and games. Miner wrote: “I would argue that most kids leave because we haven’t given them a way to stay. And perhaps more importantly, until we dismantle the parenting culture that emphasizes achievement and success over healthy, happy kids, we don’t stand a chance of solving this problem.” (Why 70 percent of kids quit sports by age 13)
  • 5. How to teach emotional intelligence. Even as the topic of teaching kids emotional skills like resilience and empathy in schools remains hot, Paul Tough, author of the book “How Children Succeed,” wrote on The Atlantic that “nobody has yet found a reliable way to teach kids to be grittier or more resilient. And it has become clear, at the same time, that the educators who are best able to engender noncognitive abilities in their students often do so without really ‘teaching’ these capacities the way one might teach math or reading —indeed, they often do so without ever saying a word about them in the classroom.” Tough’s extensive piece on The Atlantic this week mentions multiple factors that play into how kids develop these hard-to-test skills. Overall emotional tone and learning environment in the classroom is important, but so is how kids are parented in early childhood (with consistency and empathy). (How Kids Learn Resilience)

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