The Monkey Bar Blues - but why do I still like them?

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My 7 year old fell off the monkey bars and broke her arm. Badly.

Have I since banned her from any monkey bar related activities?

Nope.

She might be a little more cautious now, but still loves her swing time. I wonder what it would do to her resilience if I didn’t encourage her to tackle her apprehension (in her own time) and keep doing something she loves, and that builds her strength, coordination, resilience and balance? Yes, there are risks, and we need to accept that there can, and will, be injuries. The question is, will banning monkey bars cause more harm than good for our kids?

This week, child safety experts have called to remove monkey bars from playgrounds. No more monkeying around: Push to remove dangerous play equipment

This is not a new argument. According to experts, monkey bars “build upper body strength, balance, risk management and resilience. But those who want to see them replaced say they are among the leading causes of childhood accidents and can lead to traumatic injuries”.

How far do we need to go?

My first thought is that of a cotton wool generation. As a parent and paediatric nurse, I do believe that we should not wrap our kids up in cotton wool. They need to get out into the world to explore and take risks. It is how we build confident, resilient adults. We as parents need to know how to patch them up when things go awry.

However, there are always the more severe injuries, some of which are preventable. But will banning monkey bars reduce the incidence of severe injury, or just minor injury? Are minor injuries a necessary part of a healthy childhood?

If monkey bars are removed from playgrounds will we then focus on the next piece of equipment that children are falling from?

It’s not a simple solution. Clearly, monkey bars cause injuries. But is banning them creating more harm than good for our kids overall?

By Sarah Hunstead