Yesterday, I wrote about how organized youth sports contribute to childhood obesity.

But they also hurt our kids in other ways.

When kids organically assemble in the backyard to play games, there are rarely adults around. (Or, if they’re around, they’re not really paying attention.)

And when kids are left to their own devices, they have to self-organized, and self-police. They create the games, which means also creating and enforcing the rules.

When there are questions or disputes, there are no adults around to mediate. It’s up to the kids to police themselves. In absence of adults, they’ll have the tough conversations, go through the debates, even have the arguments. But all of those things teach them how to navigate and solve problems with each other – usually while still maintaining friendships.

Also, because kids tend to be less filtered and more blunt, they learn how to give and take pointed criticism and feedback. This thick skin they develop leads to being less inclined to be offended by the comments of others.

And, if you look around, that’s one of the main things missing from society today. As a people, we’re far less able to navigate tough conversations. There are far too many people who can’t handle alternative points of view or feedback they don’t like.

Many seem to be actively seeking to be offended, and are almost excited when they get to be.

All of this stifles real conversation and real debate. People are less inclined to say what they’re really thinking or feeling. Consequently, there’s less sharing of ideas, and people become more insulated – surrounded by their own ideas.

As much as parents are trying to help, their involvement in youth activities are hurting kids on many levels. Perhaps it’s time we closed our checkbooks and opened up our backyards to the neighborhood kids.

Our kids will thank us for it later.