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maureen spring'S COLUMN ON MONDAY: Children must take a few setbacks so they can learn.

Byline: Maureen Spring

DID you know daisy chains are dangerous? Your child could catch germs from the petals.

Yes, it's mad, but according to a recent report, making daisy chains plus traditional playground games may be banned for safety reasons.

These proposed regulations are not necessarily to protect the child, but to stop parents queuing up to claim compensation from the school for being so careless as to allow their little darling to be damaged.

So, no more shooting for goal between a couple of anoraks - the ball might hit somebody.

Marbles can be swallowed, conkers graze knuckles. Even yo-yos were listed.

I'm still working out the danger factor there, unless you swing the string round somebody's neck.

As for running, jumping, practising handstands or pretending to be a monkey on a climbing frame ... far too dangerous.

Broken bones could cost thousands.

Let's be sensible for a minute.

Surely most parents when faced with a playground injury just wipe the tears and tell them to be more careful next time.

Well, I think it is not only stupid but extremely sad.

We'll be robbing our little ones of childhood, the only period in their lives when they can be carefree, uninhibited and not have to look ahead further than the next packet of crisps.

We will also be denying them any ability to cope in this big hostile world where they're bound to get hurt one way or another.

Taking risks is what life is all about.

It's the way we learn.

If a child tears around a playground knocking over anybody in his path he'll soon learn not to do it again - especially if some of his victims were girls.

If he falls out of a tree and hurts himself he'll learn to be more careful.

When that little girl's daisy chain falls apart she'll find out that flinging it on the grass and stamping on it has been pointless, so she'll work out how to do it better.

We have to let them make mistakes in order to learn not to make them again. Mind you, some children never learn.

One of my lot, playing the clown as usual, smashed a classroom window

Ten years later he did the same again. He still fools around, though not near windows.

Daughter broke her wrist when she was seven by falling from the top of a climbing frame so discovered it wasn't wise to shove somebody bigger than yourself out of the way - or they'd push harder.

She also found bravery can bring a reward, not only in the form of a new doll because she didn't cry in casualty, but brothers can be surprisingly kind if you pretend it doesn't hurt.

And the boy she fought with at a great height was forever in her debt because she hadn't "grassed".

She even learnt compassion; several weeks later he fell (we don't ask how) and put two front teeth through his lip.

Who promptly mopped him up with her cardigan and told him he wouldn't bleed to death?

Children need the odd knock down to deal with getting up again.

They have to be allowed to play, fight, fall out, fall over each other or they'll never learn how to make friends or work in a team.

But what if ...?

So what if they can't get to the top of life's climbing frame?

Most of us get pushed and fall off, so we get up and try again.

Must we make them too afraid to try?

I still can't skip - but I can make a jolly good daisy chain.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Aug 12, 2002
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