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Hyper-Parenting May Increase Kids’ Inactivity

By Leslee Jaquette

happy healthy kids playing leapfrog outdoors in summer
happy healthy kids playing leapfrog outdoors in summer

Ah-ha! Just as I thought! Over anxious, over-controlling parents really put the kibosh on kids’ play.
Yes, the good old days were the “good old days” when many of us ran outside to play and didn’t come home until dinner. Then, after bolting dinner, we headed back outside for torturing fireflies and playing tag in the cool of late summer evenings.
Yes, it was pretty idyllic for many reasons. But one main reason life in the “burbs” in the 1950s and early 1960s was so great is that as a generation our parents were NOT huddled over us like umbrellas or helicpopters, making sure we didn’t scrape a knee or say anything un-PC. We were out climbing trees, scraping knees, picking up mosquito bites and even picking a few fights. And our moms didn’t know about Neosporin. They treated our wounds with iodine – ouch!
OK, enough ranting. The article I just read in the Wall Street Journal by Ann Lukits reported on “Too Much Parenting, Not Enough Exercise.” The story cited a study in the April issue of “Prevention Medicine” that suggests hyper-parenting may increase the risk of physical inactivity in children. Duhh…
That is, kids whose parents tend to be overly involved spent less time out playing outdoors, played fewer after-school sports and were less likely to walk or ride bikes to school.

Here are the four types of hyper-parenting styles:

  • Helicopter or overprotective
  • Little emperor parents who shower children with material goods
  • Tiger moms who push for exceptional achievement
  • Parents who schedule excessive extracurricular activities

The study showed some interesting data. Only about a quarter of the kids involved played organized sports or walked or cycled to school. Of the parents about 40 percent had hyper-parenting scores. The most active children had parents with low-to-below average scores in all hyper-parenting categories.
What kind of parent are you? Do you allow your kids any “free-range” outdoor activities?
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