Now researchers say that mistake leads us into a three-pronged, perfect storm of problems:
1. We overprotect kids, trying to keep them safe from all physical dangers—which ultimately increases their likelihood of real health issues.
2. We inhibit children’s academic growth (especially among boys), because the lack of physical activity makes it harder for them to concentrate.
3. When they fail to conform quietly to this low-energy paradigm, we over-diagnose or even punish kids for reacting the way they’re naturally built to react.
Start With the Boys
News flash: Most boys are rambunctious. Often they seem like they’re in a constant state of motion: running, jumping, fighting, playing, getting hurt—maybe getting upset—and getting right back into the physical action.
Except at school, where they’re required to sit still for long periods of time. (And when they fail to stay still, how are they punished? Often by being forced to skip recess—and thus they sit still longer.)
It’s not just an American issue. Researchers at the University of Eastern Finland recently tried to document whether boys actually achieve less in school when they’re restricted from running around and being physically active.