Does a stroller turn children in to “fine fruit”?
In our fast paced world, every day often feels likes a marathon, especially if you have children! We’re pressed for time as our responsibilities have broadened over the years. Many households have 2 parents who work outside of the home, or 1 who works outside the home while the other works inside the home caring for the children, the house and running a small business. Add education, sports, social commitments, family commitments, and we’re seriously pressed for time!
Often times we rush our very young children through the important and pleasurable act of walking, because we’re so busy running from one stop to the next in an attempt to reach the last destination on our “To-Do List”. Plain and simple – it’s easier and faster for the adult (and sometimes safer for the child) to plunk them in stroller and be on our way. We are sometimes even perplexed at their frustration of being chauffeured around … what we’d give for a nice comfy ride through the mall!
Maria Montessori has written many books that discuss the subject of allowing children to be in control of their own physical body and locomotion. She believed it’s the adult who must learn to adapt themselves and the environment to the needs of the child and not the other way around.
“The child does not develop the power to walk upright by waiting for it, but by walking. The first step, greeted with such joy by his family, is indeed a conquest of nature, and almost the birth of active man, in place of inert, helpless man, and for the child a new life begins. In physiology, the emergence of this new function is one of the main tests of normal development. But afterwards, it is practice that counts. The achievement of balance and sure footing is the result of long practice and hence of individual effort. We know that the child starts walking with an irresistible impetus and courage. He is bold, even rash; he is a soldier who hurls himself to victory regardless of the risk. And for this reason the adult surrounds him with protective restrictions, which are so many obstacles; he is enclosed within a play-pen, or strapped in a perambulator, in which he will make his outings even when his legs are already sturdy.”
“This happens because a child’s step is much shorter than that of grown-up, and he has less staying-power for long walks. And the grown-up will not give up his own pace. Even when the grown-up is a nurse – that is to say, someone who has specialised and given herself up to a child’s sole care – it is the child who must adapt himself to the ways of the nurse, not the nurse to him. The nurse will go her own pace, pushing the perambulator in which the child sits like some fine fruit being driven to market. And only when the nurse has reached the place for which she is aiming, perhaps a pleasant park, will she sit down, and let the child get out to play under her watchful eye. In all this, only the child’s body is considered, his “vegetative” life, which must be shielded from any possible danger, but no account is taken of the essential and constructive needs of his mental life.”
(The Secret of Childhood)
We’re all guilty of it. We spend hundreds of dollars on fancy strollers to make our life easier when our children are small. But are we really meeting the needs of our children by doing this? There will always be times that we must put the safety of our children ahead of their own desires. But do we honestly take the opportunities when they arise to allow our children to walk on their own, at their own pace, and explore the world around them? Are we overusing strollers and turning our children in to “fine fruit”? It’s most definitely something to think about.