This story is timely, since my beloved first grader had a rather serious playground accident that will take some months to heal and allow her to recover completely.
We're lucky that she is healing well and co-operating with the steps needed to get better.
As parents, we have to always remember that it could have been worse.
But for younger children, who are supervised far more closely on swings, monkey bars, slides and sand boxes, parents with good intentions can actually do more harm than good.
As reported by MSNBC, Dr. John Gaffney, a pediatric orthopedist at Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola, N.Y., and a clinical professor at State University of New York Stony Brook, began to notice that a lot of his young patients who were hurt on the playground had been physically with a caregiver at the time.
The doctor noticed several of his patients had suffered broken, fractured, or otherwise injured legs, particularly when going down slides, and especially if they were sitting on someone's lap at the time.
For most parents, it's counterintuitive to allow a toddler to go down a slide alone. It makes sense to put the child on their laps in order to avoid them losing control on the way down, standing up and falling from the top, or sliding off too fast or hard.
So we prop them up on our lap, pray we can still fit on a kids slide, and off we go.
After checking the medical records of fifty-eight of his pediatric patients who had sustained fractures, Dr. Gaffney found that 13 of them had happened on slides. And 100 percent of those 13 fractures were from children sitting on their caregivers laps as they rode down the slide.
The cause of the fractures seems to be the weight of the caregiver. "“If a toddler is riding by himself and gets his leg stuck against the side of the slide, he can stop himself pretty easily,” Gaffney explains.
“But with the parent’s weight added in, you’ve got greater velocity and momentum and it’s harder to stop."
So what does this mean for kids in the playground? Dr. Gaffney agrees that there isn't a one-size-fits-all solution of never going down a slide with your child.