The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - - NEWS - JACKIE SINNERTON

PAR­ENTS are be­ing la­belled the “play po­lice” as they ham­per their kids from be­ing brave and ad­ven­tur­ous.

It is not only chil­dren who have lost the abil­ity of risk as­sess­ment – fear has crept into mod­ern par­ents, says Na­ture Play Queens­land’s Hyahno Moser.

“The world be­longs to the anx­ious and this is the heart of the de­cline of out­door play,” Mr Moser said.

“In my years as pro­gram man­ager of Na­ture Play Queens­land, I have learned that par­ents are mar­i­nated in stranger dan­ger fear.” DO IT: Amy and Scott Robert­son with chil­dren Char­lie, 10, and Elkie, 7, at Mount Coot-tha. Pic­ture: AAP/Mark Calleja

Hot weather, bug bites and fear of falls are the ex­cuses some par­ents use for their chil­dren stick­ing to couch ac­tiv­i­ties.

Re­search has con­firmed that fewer than one in 10 chil­dren venture fur­ther than a few me­tres from their front door.

And the ra­dius ex­plored by chil­dren aged seven and eight has shrunk by 90 per cent in just one gen­er­a­tion.

“If we lock kids in­doors, day-in and day-out, put a screen in front of them, re­duce their real-life free­doms, re­duce their ac­cess to the neigh­bour­hood, to lo­cal friends, re­duce the amount of space they have to move, ex­plore, con­nect, ex­pe­ri­ence, then we end up with un­mo­ti­vated, un­sure, phys­i­cally and emo­tion­ally in­com­pe­tent chil­dren, and com­mu­ni­ties be­sieged with ris­ing health and be­havioural is­sues,” Mr Moser said.

“The first seven to eight years of a child’s life need to be sacro­sanct, pro­tected as the most im­por­tant foun­da­tional years that set up the child phys­i­cally and emo­tion­ally for the rest of their life.

“Par­ents need to un­der­stand this.”

Scott and Amy Robert­son from Padding­ton, in Bris­bane’s in­ner west, un­der­stand the value of stand­ing back and giv­ing their two chil­dren the op­por­tu­nity to ex­plore and ex­pe­ri­ence na­ture.

“We love get­ting out­doors. Na­ture is the per­fect play­ground,” Amy said.

“We try not to in­ter­fere with the play too much un­less it is highly dan­ger­ous.”

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