Kids think up (and are taught) a lot of games and activities. Some are safe and others not-so-safe. As the grownup it’s your job to teach them how to play safely in the water and everywhere. That’s why today we’re talking about chicken: a classic game that we think should be retired permanently. With the dangers of this game (and the available, safer alternatives), there is no reason to play.
If you don’t know chicken, it’s a pretty basic game. Two bigger players place two smaller players on their shoulders and the smaller ones try to knock one another off and into the water. The danger there should be obvious: a nasty goose egg on the head if you’re lucky; stitches, broken bones, or brain damage if you’re not. Not to mention the risk to the larger player, who could get kicked in the face or go under before anyone realizes.
Because kids are always attracted to the idea of knocking one another into the water, consider the log flume jousting game. The balance component comes from log shaped floats, which tend to roll. And soft jousting sticks give them a chance to try to knock one another off the log. Unlike with chicken, the foundation is a toy, not a person, so the rider can squeeze, kick, and maneuver without hurting anyone. And the fall into the water isn’t from a height. It’s from a seated position just over the water. As with all pool toys, exercise caution and good judgment. Stay in the center of the pool to avoid head bumps on the concrete. Overly aggressive behavior should not be tolerated and don’t match up children whose strength is clearly unequal. Ban face hits. This toy works best for school aged children, who have better balance and who are less likely to be hurt by a hit with a jousting stick.