Are we making our children lazy?

Are we making our children lazy?

Today I’m feeling a bit controversial. I don’t usually rant or voice my opinion on here.  But this is something that has bugged me for a long time!  When I was growing up, 75% of my time was spent playing outside. Whether it be riding a bike, learning to skate or building a den.  I only played inside when it was raining or too cold.  I remember my sister had a trike, she loved her trike, she couldn’t (ahem, refused to) use the pedals so she pushed herself along with her feet. We learnt to ride our bikes at a young age too, stabilisers were screwed on and off we went.  And with a bit of parental mentoring we learnt quickly how to pedal ourselves.

Nowadays all I see are children being pushed about.  I keep seeing people strapping their babies into ‘smart’ trikes.  Their babies can’t hold onto the handlebars, let alone reach the pedals.  It’s just a glorified, slightly ridiculous looking pushchair!  And even when they can reach the pedals, they’re still pushed about.  Bikes also have these massive sticks sticking out of them. WHY?! If your child wants to learn to ride a bike, they don’t need you pushing them around all of the time. If they don’t want to learn to pedal, tell them you won’t help. I’m sure that will motivate them!

Pushchairs.  Why do we seem to keep our children in them for so long? A month after I turned two, my sister arrived in the world, my mum had a single pushchair, so I walked the 2 mile round trip back and forth to the village most days.  There were no such things as buggy boards, so if I was really tired I would stand on the bar at the back but it was rare.  Nowadays, I frequently see children who are 3 or even 4, still being pushed around.  I can’t wait until I have children who are old enough for us to stop lugging a buggy around.  Having to always make sure I have parked the car so I can get it easily in and out of the boot.

When I have my second child a double buggy won’t be on my list of things to buy.  Unless the age gap is 2 years or less I personally don’t see why you would need one.  Being able to walk a fair distance is a skill I want my child to have.  To be able to walk a decent distance (I’m not talking about a marathon here, just a mile or two!) without complaining they’re tired or can’t do it.

Of course, I’m not going around judging people.  I don’t look at every child in a pushchair and ‘judge’ them.  There are many reasons why you may use it for an extended time, whether it be a visible or invisible disability.  This is just my experience, with people I know directly or indirectly.

I personally just feel like all these sorts of products just encourage our children to not do things for themselves. To rely on us to do things for them and by doing this we then make it too easy for our children to become lazy.  I know there are lots of children who are very active and maybe these things have made no effect on their fitness.  But there are lots of children who aren’t active, and walking anywhere is a real struggle.  We may be busy, but are we really any busier than our parents were?  Do we do it for an easier life?  I don’t know.

Obviously, this being said I can see why you may use a pushchair for longer.  You may take it as a back up, if your child gets tired out from walking.  You may use it as a restraint when it’s busy out, or even as a safety measure.  It can even be used as a punishment, and I am sure if your little one loves running about they aren’t too happy to be bundled back into their buggy!  But do we rely on them too heavily?

Can’t we just go back to the days when trikes and bikes didn’t have push along sticks hanging off the back of them?  When children were encouraged to be active and to do things for themselves.  Maybe we can’t, but I’m sure going to try for mine!

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26 Comments

  1. Peregrine
    April 27, 2017 / 3:18 pm

    Not everyone has a car. Those of us who don’t but have to get from A to B in a limited amount of time are grateful to still be able to use buggies at 3 and 4. (I do prefer to use the micro scooter most of the time, but again, not always feasible.)

  2. April 27, 2017 / 3:33 pm

    I completely agree. My first two had a 16 month age gap. I didn’t buy a double buggy. The eldest walked everywhere, and on the very rare occasion he was tired or we went further , I had the eldest in the sling. I think that happened twice. We do three school runs a day, 20 minute walk each way (so two hours of walking a day), over a big hill. My two year old is walking it, yet I see 4 year olds being taken to nursery in a buggy. Grrrr.

    • April 27, 2017 / 6:05 pm

      Wow, 16 months, that’s very good! I can imagine my son will be out of a buggy as soon as he is confident on his feet! He just hates his buggy!

    • Anne-Marie Gillespie
      April 27, 2017 / 6:08 pm

      That’s fine with an early walker but plenty of children are not even walking at 16 months!

  3. A Mum
    April 27, 2017 / 3:44 pm

    I’m sorry but you are wrong. Yes, children should be encouraged to walk but your child isn’t at that stage yet so you cannot say with conviction that they’ll be walking everywhere. They are just children after all.

    You make a point if how things were, but that’s just it, it is how they were. Things change, practices change.

    I think you should reserve your judgement until you experience these things yourself.

    Children should be active, but the children you see in the street, you have no idea how active they have been that day, children get tired.

    • April 27, 2017 / 6:07 pm

      My son is at the point where he has just started walking yes, but when we are out he already prefers to walk! I understand children get tired. This is just my opinion!

  4. Laura
    April 27, 2017 / 3:57 pm

    I wonder how often you’ve stopped to consider how many of these “lazy” children that you’ve supposedly seen are disabled in some way? My son has severe autism and he doesn’t use a pushchair to be lazy he retreats to it for safety but you go ahead and keep judging me and him for what is necessary for us.

    • April 27, 2017 / 6:08 pm

      I don’t look at every child in a pushchair and think they’re lazy. I understand some children do have disabilities and I would never judge them because I know how hard they find the world!

  5. April 27, 2017 / 3:57 pm

    I’ve come across your blog post through Mumsnet. It’s made me feel all sorts of emotions – but mainly anger and sadness. My youngest is 4, and until very recently (due to a wheelchair) she has relied heavily on a buggy. She was born with ‘half a working heart’, and although she looks well – she simply tires, is breathless and turns blue. So, please consider that some children aren’t lazy! The sadness I can see in her face when she can’t physically keep up with her peers. Things like trikes with handles help her feel more like others.

    • April 27, 2017 / 6:10 pm

      I don’t look at every child in a pushchair and think they’re lazy. I understand some children do have disabilities and of course I wouldn’t take someone at face value. It is my experience with people I know not strangers on the street!

  6. April 27, 2017 / 4:45 pm

    It’s great that you want your children to be active and want to walk a good distance. However, I would suggest you reserve judgment when you see a mum with an older child in a buggy. My eldest daughter is 5. She has a heart condition that means she gets breathless and tired easily. I get out and about a lot with her and her sister (who is heart healthy) and encourage them to be active but the reality is that my eldest tires very quickly and cannot manage long walks. We still take the buggy with us on longer walks so she can ride in it when she gets tired. You wouldn’t know to look at my daughter that she has a disability. I have been on the receiving end of judgmental comments and looks on several occasions and it makes me cross that I feel like I have justify my decisions as a parent to a stranger. While I realise that our situation might be more unusual, the point is that you may not know just by looking at a child whether they have a disability or are “lazy” I have no issue at all with encouraging children to get out and about more and to be active but please don’t write off all older children you see on push-along trikes and pushchairs as being lazy.

    • April 27, 2017 / 6:11 pm

      Personally I don’t judge people out and about on the streets. It’s my experience with people I know more than anything. I completely understand why you may use or take a buggy with you. And of course you know your child best!

  7. Lsura
    April 27, 2017 / 9:48 pm

    Easy for someone who has a car and can just pop to the shops to judge (before you have had to endure the snails pace of a toddler or the crying because they are tired or just don’t want to walk)

    I don’t drive so using a pram means I can go to asda and do some shopping and not have to carry it and a crying toddler home. I can go for lovely long walks or to a park a bit further afield. My daughter hops in when she gets tired then back out when she is feeling refreshed. She isn’t lazy and neither am I. Thank God for my pram otherwise I would barely stray more than a half hour walk away. Until your a mother you really have no idea of what it’s like to make a small child walk when they are tired or had to carry stone of deaf weight as well as your bag eye.

    Also you may not realise the parent has a disability that makes it impossible to carry a child if they get tired.

    • April 27, 2017 / 10:26 pm

      I quite often walk to the shops and my son hates being in the pushchair so I either have to carry him or if we aren’t near a road he will toddle. Yes I have a car, but that’s neither here nor there. I’m not saying every child in a pushchair is lazy, and there are many reasons people may choose to use it. This was just a question

  8. April 27, 2017 / 10:31 pm

    Unless a child has a disability that means they need a buggy, then I agree with 4 and 5 year olds not being in buggies. N refused to sit in his from 2 years 9 months much to my agony with the length of time it took to get everywhere. But I have to say he is lazy when it comes to just walking from A-B. He’ll happily spend 5-6 hours walking on a shoot day in the countryside, and if he’s got friends to distract him. But if it’s just us he will moan after a short distance and he’s 6! He also had a smart trike, but at the age of 2 he had a balance bike anyway, so preferred using that and his pedal tractors.

    I guess all children are different, and people have different distances to get to places. We drive everywhere because we don’t live anywhere walkable. Even the school run wouldn’t be feasible to do because of rural roads and no paths. Plus he’d prefer to cycle than walk.

  9. Lisa
    April 28, 2017 / 4:38 am

    I agree! I have 4 children, all two years apart (or there abouts) I have never had a double buggy or buggy board. I didn’t learn to drive until after baby number two, so I walked everywhere. And even now, my youngest is 22 months and I rarely use the pushchair for him, he loves to walk and run and explore.

  10. Paula Buckland
    April 28, 2017 / 8:12 am

    I totally agree. My son’s daughter is being bought up mainly by her mother since they separated. They are Londoners and not one is disabled in ANY way. A car is insisted on ‘becuse of the “child” It’s silly it’s also too expensive. Driving in London is awful anyway. My granddaughter is usually late to school because there’s no where to park. (When I walk her to school she’s on time). She also compains about walking due to the negative attitude of her mum.

    There is a good bus and tube service and uber\mini cabs if you need to carry things to work or whatever.

    Sadly we live rurally in Fr for 6 months of the year and the locals don’t walk anywhere, we are less than a mile from the local school. The children are mostly inside on their screens it’s wrong in my opinion.

  11. Caroline
    April 28, 2017 / 8:38 am

    Lol
    You have one child; come back when you have 3.

    Actually, my real response is that you have picked the wrong people to complain about. The real problem is the people who put their kids in the car rather than exposing them to the great outdoors in a buggy. What about the parents who stay home and park their kids in front of a screen rather than pushing them in the stroller to the park or to the shops? These are the people you need to rant about, but they are not so visible…

  12. Katy S
    April 28, 2017 / 11:28 am

    I agree with all of this and it’s a shame a few people have jumped on you for expressing an opinion when you do specify you are not judging everyone by their choices to use a buggy as you can’t be aware of all the reasons they might do so.

    I think with entertainment for children increasingly being offered in indoor, sedentary forms – iPads, gaming, television – it’s even more important that they get their exercise – but not just that, that they learn to realise sometimes they will have to do things they don’t enjoy, as per Emma T’s post. It’s healthy for kids to be bored and learn to make their own entertainment. It’s healthy for kids to walk that boring school run rather than be ferried. Of course there will be situations where that is either not possible for health reasons or impractical, but I don’t think you should be jumped on for saying this.

  13. Paula Buckland
    April 28, 2017 / 1:29 pm

    Yes true Katy.

  14. MsBex
    April 28, 2017 / 2:19 pm

    Hmmm. My oldest didn’t walk at all until she was just 2 (just a late walker, no disabilities). We don’t have a car. At 3.4 she still naps some days. Right now she is snoozing in what is basically her baby sister’s buggy – we walked about 2 miles and had a long play in the park this morning/early pm and she got in for the walk home (At nap time) and I put her sister in the sling- she dropped off.

    ALL the Londoners I know used a buggy until at least 3, some of the time. That’s how you get around town and do a full day in central London! It doesn’t mean your kid is always in it. And sometimes it is nice to go more than 20 minutes from your house. In my experience the ‘I don’t need a buggy’ people a)drive everywhere b)have kids who have dropped their naps and c)have very early walkers. When we hire a car to go away we don’t take it because we’re not walking miles and she can snooze in the car- so it DOES make a difference.

    She does get looks- mainly because she is also very tall and looks about 5. But really, why does anyone else care? What about if I put her in her bike seat? Is that ok?

  15. April 30, 2017 / 2:48 pm

    I don’t think it’s necessarily about children getting lazier. My mum had just under a two year age gap with me and my sister and had a double buggy for a very short period of time, simply because I loved to walk everywhere. Had she had my sister as her older child, she’d no doubt have kept it far longer as she simply hated to walk. My son has just turned 3, has no special needs or anything like that, but we still take the pushchair with us a lot when we go out – in fact, I’ve just bought a double pushchair for when our second arrives in about a month. Six months ago I never thought we’d need it, but the reality is that he has little legs, is very active when he is out and about, and does get tired. The options are to pick him up or for him to go in the pushchair, and I’m not currently able to pick him up, and haven’t been for a long time. Often he’ll walk the whole time, but having a backup option is really important to me. The last thing I want when a new baby comes along is for him to feel pushed out because he’s not able to use the pushchair anymore. He’s a stubborn tantrum thrower too, and some things just aren’t worth the battle when there is an easy solution like a pushchair to turn to. Perhaps that makes me a lazy parent, but so much of parenting is about making the right choice for you at that time, and this works for us.

    • April 30, 2017 / 10:35 pm

      I completely understand and agree, it’s definitely a good back up to have around! It’s definitely all about our instincts, and I may well eat my words in a year or twos time! I think it’s more about the people who don’t give their children the option to walk around, it’s the buggy or nothing. A family friend used a buggy all the time for her children until they were well past being 4 and they never really were encouraged to walk places. Now they are a lot older and struggle to walk the mile into the local village!

  16. Charlotte
    May 1, 2017 / 7:45 am

    I agree with you. Its just great to be outdoors. My boys are 3 yrs and 17 months. Both stared walking at 16 mo! Late to get going; runs in husbands family. We spend at least half a day outside each day, even if its just the garden.

    However, I have a double buggy and it was invaluable for the first year after our second was born (20 mo age gap).

    My oldest loves to walk but for me it was mostly for safety (we’d walk along busy main roads) and ease. Useful for double naps! We rarely use it now but it was a real great option for those 12 mos.

    I think the trikes are just a bit of fun, not necessary but if you want to spend on it then you can. I dont see any reason why they cant be incorporated into a healthy lifestyle for toddlers. Thanks to super duper generous grand parents, we have two ride in cars (one electric), one wooden trike, two push along trikes, a ride on (pedal power) tractor, a balance bike and two micro scooters! These are not all at our house I might add; spread out over family members! Not all bought new either…..lots second hand!

    What if the toddler in question was being walked in trike to the park for two hours of play? Very likely!!! Hard to judge really x

  17. L.V.
    May 1, 2017 / 10:44 am

    I understand what you are saying, however, prams, pushchairs etc are not the issue here.

    I have a 30 month old child, she loves walking, and we do get out and about using our pushchair.
    It is around 4 miles to and from town centre where the library and shops are, the bus fare are so expensive that I walk to town as it saves me money.
    Anyway, I do agree with you about raising lazy children, but lets rethink how often are we rushing to help our children with every little thing they struggle doing. We must be more patient and allow them to figure things out.
    Unfortunately the competitive world of ‘perfect parenting’ pushes younger parents to treat children as dolls. Parents are so worried how they appear that we don’t allow our children to dress themselves in case it is not to the standard, instead of praising the child for their effort, when child has a fall parents rushing to help, instead of allowing the child to pick himself/herself up, no one in right mind will accuse you of child neglect if you let your small person get up first and offer hugs of reassurance later.

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