North Texas Daily

Children should get dirty to stay healthy

Children should get dirty to stay healthy

Children should get dirty to stay healthy
October 09
16:27 2019

One of the hallmarks of being a child is going outside and playing with other kids. It doesn’t matter what time it is or how ugly the weather can be, children want to get out and play.

I remember when I was growing up there was something freeing about going out and playing games with other kids, whether it be a game of duck duck goose or simply wrestling with others on dirt. I’ve been there and done it all.

But now I feel like society has shifted its ideas on what constitutes a traditional childhood.

Parents are becoming more health conscious for their children which means they want their child in a sterilized environment at all times. This can be a positive thing because parents have a responsibility for the well-being of their child and always have good intentions but at what cost?

According to an article by The Independent, children’s immune systems were more robust in the past than they are today because there was less concern about germs and bacteria.

The same article provided a study on the immune profiles of Amish children and they were found to have lesser rates of asthma than children in the city. It is important to keep in mind that the Amish children in the study lived on a farm that was “rich in microbes.” It was also found that by sterilizing homes similar to hospitals, it can lead to children developing hyper-sensitive immune systems.

Even the “five-second rule” has been defended. According to scientists, it takes less than a second for microbes to attach themselves to dropped food but it takes extremely dangerous pathogens to put one at risk and they are virtually impossible to come across in most modern homes. So if your child drops a sandwich on the floor, they can still reasonably eat the food without facing serious repercussions.

Of course it’s also important that children are vaccinated because vaccinations help the body fight diseases and dangerous bacteria.

Vaccinations are basically small doses of illnesses to make the body adjust to the bacteria. So why do parents feel like they need to over sterilize germs that their children’s bodies have already been trained to combat? Perhaps it’s a genetic trait instilled in parents to see their children make it into adulthood so they can reproduce. There was a time when the common cold could bring the end for people and that is a time that hasn’t been forgotten.

I’ll also state that I’m not advocating poor hygiene, either.

I think it’s vital that children take care of themselves and practice cleanliness. They should always wash their hands with soap and water before eating or using the restroom. Children should also wash their hands if they’re sick or were around someone sick. It’s irrefutable that there are plenty of times that children should take care of their hygiene.

But, the freedom for a child to play outdoors and not be overly concerned if they get dirty is ever important.. If they play in the mud or on the beach, they should stay dirty until they’re done playing. Children should be able to live in a non-sheltered environment so when they’re adults, they can look back at their childhood with fondness.

Not only will children develop great memories from this, but science has proven that time outside can improve memory and concentration itself. Time with friends can also improve social intelligence which will benefit children for a lifetime.

In a very real way, children need to get dirty to stay healthy.

Featured Illustration: Thomas Strimpel

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Adrian Maldonado

Adrian Maldonado

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