Emergency room visits an overreaction to childhood scrapes?

Emergency room visits for typical childhood playground accidents are probably an overreaction. Attitude adjustment to fearful parenting is necessary:  "worst-first" is not the best philosophy.

Tony Avelar/The Christian Science Monitor
Here, Sophia Schmitz, uses the balancing beams at a neighborhood playground in Alameda, Calif. on Dec. 26, 2011.

 Dear Free-Range Kids: My two-year old daughter face-planted while running on a sidewalk yesterday late afternoon. Now she’s got a scrape on her forehead and a “Groucho Marx”-looking mustache/skinned upper lip. We checked that her teeth and nose were fine, and she stopped crying before we got home.

But, I cannot tell you how many moms (of all people!?) have stopped me to ask if I took her to the emergency room. When I say no, they look at me like I’m crazy.

Look: She fell while running. It’s no worse than having a skinned knee, just in a bit more obvious place. We put ice and Neosporin on it, and she was back to herself by dinner time. Since when do we rush off to the ER for every scrape, bruise, and cut? It’s no wonder that medical insurance is skyrocketing if we rush off frantically to the hospital every time a child falls down. And, why react with a gasp and “Oh my gosh!” to seeing a child with a scrape and a scab on her face? It’s teaching her that something terrible happened to her, when it was really just a fall.

Seems to me we are instilling a culture of fear by reacting with such grandiosity to such a normal accident. Beyond that, I can’t tell you how many moms have told me that “because she’s a girl, you really should put [insert numerous product names] on it to minimize the scarring.” I just don’t think that I am (literally) scarring my child by keeping my reaction to a sane minimum. – Jen.

Dear Jen: I’ve wondered myself why I’m at the pediatrician’s office so much more than my mom was with me.

I think it’s all part of  ”worst-first” thinking. We are encouraged to consider how every incident or sniffle COULD turn into the worst possible thing, and how terrible would we feel if we hadn’t addressed it with all guns blazing.  ”Wait and see” has become “Wait and see how you feel when your child doesn’t recover and it’s all your fault!”

No wonder it’s so hard to resist the impulse to  make a big fuss, or at the very least, spend a lot of time and money. – L.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best family and parenting bloggers out there. Our contributing and guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor, and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. Lenore Skenazy blogs at Free-Range Kids.

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