First the article and then Lenore from Freerange kids provides her own unique take.
Excerpts below -the full article can be read from the link above
“Last spring, Katie Dickman of Dunkirk, Md., was at the playground with her 18-month-old toddler, Hannah, when the little girl asked to ride down a twisting slide. Ms. Dickman accompanied her daughter, carefully keeping the child on her lap as they coasted to the bottom.
But without warning, Hannah’s sneaker caught on the side of the slide. Although Ms. Dickman grabbed the leg and unstuck her daughter’s foot, by the time they reached the ground, the girl was whimpering and could not walk. A doctor’s visit later revealed a fractured tibia…..“My wife was just trying to keep Hannah extra safe and make sure she didn’t fall,” said Hannah’s father, Jed Dickman. “She felt very guilty about it.” As the Dickmans soon learned, such injuries are surprisingly common.
….This may be one of those counterintuitive cases when a child is safer by himself. If a foot gets caught while the child is sliding alone, he can just stop moving or twist around until it comes free. But when a child is sitting in an adult lap, the force of the adult’s weight behind him ends up breaking his leg…….Dr. Gaffney said he has treated three playground fractures in the last month for children sliding with a grandparent, a parent and a baby sitter….“As soon as the weather gets warm, this starts to happen,” he said. “It’s so common, but parents say: ‘How did I not know about this? I thought it was doing something good for my child by having them sit on my lap.’ ”
Andy Dworkin, a former journalist who is now a medical student in Portland, Ore., said his son Felix, then 18 months, was playing with a toddler friend at an elementary school where they were drawn to a blue slide. Felix rode down first, on the lap of his mother, but his rubber-soled shoe caught on the slide and he started to scream when he got off the slide.
Another mother, at the top of the slide with her own 17-month-old, quickly slid down with her son to try to help. But soon that little boy was crying as well. At the emergency room, both boys were found to have fractures, and they were fitted with orange and blue casts.
Both boys had full recoveries. Felix, now 3 ½, doesn’t remember the accident, but will now go down small slides only and remains cautious around large twisting slides, said Mr. Dworkin.
…To prevent the injury, the best solution is to allow a child to slide by himself, with supervision and instructions on how to play safely. Young children can be placed on the slide at the halfway point with a parent standing next to the slide. At the very least, parents should remove a child’s shoes before riding down the slide with the child on their laps, and make sure the child’s legs don’t touch the sides or sliding surface.
“I’m not saying we need to make the entire world out of rubber and insulate kids,” he said. “But this is something that is so totally predictable and preventable. That’s why I want to get the word out this one could go away.”
Wow, Who Knew? Kids Should Go Down Slides ON THEIR OWN! « FreeRangeKids
Hi Readers — and thank you for sending this story, “A Surprising Risk for Toddlers on Playground Slides,” that was in yesterday’s New York Times. And what exactly IS the surprising risk?
Parents! Extremely loving, extremely cautious parents who, rather than letting their kids navigate the slide on their own, put them on their lap and let gravity do its thing. The problem is: The thing gravity is doing is breaking their childrens’ legs.
Yes, “helping” the kids actually makes the slide experience less safe. Kids are getting their legs stuck and twisted and even broken, because (sez the story) “If a foot gets caught while the child is sliding alone, he can just stop moving or twist around until it comes free. But when a child is sitting in an adult lap, the force of the adult’s weight behind him ends up breaking his leg.”
Now, I am of at least two, possibly even three-point-five minds about this story. First off, of course, I am a little smug about the news that helicoptering doesn’t help kids. The fact that kids have been going down slides alone since Danny slid down his Dinosaur should have been evidence enough that modest inclines and moppets are a good mix. But we live in a culture that loves to demand ever more involvement on the part of parents, so a lot of folks got the idea that GOOD moms and dads are the ones who put down the Starbucks and go, “Wheeeee!” with perhaps more enthusiasm than they feel. Now they are off the hook.
ON THE OTHER HAND (we are now onto Mind #2), this article also makes it seem as if the parent/kid playground combo is the slippery slope to hell, and that slides are even MORE dangerous than anybody had ever imagined. And considering we have already imagined them as SO dangerous that regulations require them to be no taller than the average mound of laundry (or is that just at my house?), this is another blow to playground fun.
And here’s Mind #3: The fact that this issue merited an entire article in the hard copy of the New York Times — space that is disappearing faster than Happy Meal fries – is just another example of our obsession with every little thing that has to do with parenting. As if every hour of time with them is fraught with the potential for developmental leaps or horrifying danger. When really what we’re talking about is an afternoon at the playground.
And now for the .5: One point the article made is that, “The damage is not merely physical. ‘The parents are always crushed that they broke their kid’s leg and are baffled as to why nobody ever told them this could happen,’ Dr. Holt said. ‘Sometimes one parent is angry at the other parent because that parent caused the child’s fracture. It has some real consequences to families.’”
In a nutshell (and I do mean nut) here are my final thoughts:
1 – Parents are BAFFLED that NOBODY EVER TOLD THEM every single thing that could possibly go wrong in any situation? That’s one reason why we are so litigious: We expect every activity to be perfect every time, and if it’s not, we are so angry we want to blame someone (else). Not fate. Someone.
2 – While I can totally see being mad at the parent who broke my kid’s leg, I can also see moving on. Getting over it. Realizing it could have been ME. Lasting consequences seems a bit dramatic for an injury that, the article says, the children recover from in 4 to 6 weeks, without “lasting complications.” (Except, of course, for the divorce.)
3 – And, in defense of the article and the author, whose work I like, maybe the piece actually did perform a public service. Hoopla aside, now you know: Let your kid go solo down the slide.
I think I’m done. Feel free to take up where I left off. – L.