Momtastic about the dangers of hide-and-seek. The blog author, Rachel, claims that this timeless children's game is not only dangerous to children, but also sends them "mixed signals" about rules. Although she leaves it up to the reader to decide whether or not the game is appropriate for kids, she makes it clear that she views the game as an inherently dangerous practice.I was shocked when I saw a blog post on
I was left slack-jawed after reading this mother's opinion. I tried to imagine a world in which I could be the helicopter mom who intervenes in games of tag and hide-and-seek. How could this woman, or any other parent, take away such a universal and enjoyable childhood game? Here are the reasons I think it's perfectly acceptable to allow kids to play hide-and-seek.
1. It's essential for normal development. A child who is wrapped in a metaphorical bubble will not experience normal social or physical development. Children need to learn how to run, jump, catch, and hide, just as they need to learn how to crawl and walk in infancy. Cooperative and competitive games like hide-and-seek are also essential for learning social skills and healthy sportsmanship. The minor risks involved in these games are far outweighed by the benefits for your child's development.
2. Hide-and-seek reinforces rules by allowing them to be temporarily broken. Momtastic's Rachel claims that hide-and-seek sends mixed messages to kids about rules and encourages them to keep secrets. I believe that it is a classic case of the exception proving the rule. If a child has a structured, approved context in which he can break the rules, he can be further reminded of how important the rules really are.
3. It's safe-- really. I don't accept the "I did it when I was a kid" cop-out for unsafe parenting practices. That excuse is used all too often to justify truly dangerous practices like riding without a booster seat and biking without a helmet. However-- unlike these other practices-- there is no evidence that hide-and-seek is actually dangerous. An extensive online search uncovered only one case in all of American history in which a child went missing while playing hide-and-seek, and he was safely found later by a search team. Considering how many hundreds of millions of kids have played the game, I find it very hard to believe that this is evidence of hide-and-seek's dangers.
4. Kids need to be kids. Our generation is largely stripping our children of their ability to be children. Far too few kids today spend time playing outdoors, catching grasshoppers, climbing trees, or riding bikes. Fewer trick-or-treating at Halloween or catch lightning bugs in canning jars. Few make mud-pies or skin their knees skateboarding. I want my daughter to have a real childhood, even if that means taking a few minor risks to accommodate it. The one-in-several-million chance of a hide-and-seek going wrong does not outweigh the very real detrimental effects of an overprotected childhood.
5. Parents can use common sense to keep their kids safe. I'm going to keep letting my daughter play hide-and-seek, but the warnings from moms who regard the game as dangerous do stand as a reminder of basic safety precautions. Keep your kids in a designated area while they play hide-and-seek, ensuring that they don't travel so far that they might get lost. Explain that some hiding places are not allowed, such as the inside of a refrigerator or any other airtight space. And, as always, make sure your children know to avoid swimming pools and strangers.
Do you think hide-and-seek is dangerous? Do you allow your kids to play it?