Not long ago we were in a bank office. While we waited for our turn … a boy of a year and a half or so sat on the floor, began to crawl and look around the office. The floor was shiny and shiny, the kind that are so waxed that you can even see yourself reflected on the floor. But his mother suddenly yelled a “What are you doing ?? !! Can’t you see how dirty the floor is? Then he grabbed it by the hand, put it on the chair, tied it up, and the trouble was over.

That kid didn’t get dirty, no. But neither did he play, nor did he explore the space he was in, nor did he solve his boredom through his own creativity. No. By contrast, he was tied to a chair observing devices and toys external to himself.

I am convinced that the majority of mothers and fathers do what they think is best for their children and, surely, among those beliefs is that hygiene is important for the health of the little ones.

But I would like to help change that vision. Hygiene is important , of course, up to a point. But if we pass by … we are seriously damaging the health of children . On the one hand, physical health, since his immune system is unemployed and without work, so he has to invent it to stay active and thus more cases of allergies or asthma begin to appear. On the other hand, his emotional health. For example, children’s contact with mud and dirt causes their brain to generate more serotonin, which increases their happiness levels and their ability to concentrate (I wrote about the benefits of playing with mud in this article , in case you want deepen).

But above all, what is harmed when we do not let them stain is their development and learning . Children have to discover the world with their own hands. They have to be able to apprehend it to learn.

How can they thirst for knowledge if we don’t let them experience the environment around them? How are you going to discover the world if you can’t experience it?

In this photograph below, the little one creates the puddle by himself, then he wets his hair and tries to collect the splash of water that falls from his head with a glass. It may seem like you’re smearing it for its own sake, but there’s so much more to it. Motor skills, coordination, aiming, fun… You might think you can do the same with clean water. But these ideas and expressions only emerge after a long time of experimenting, testing … letting the game evolve without slowing it down. I’m sure that had I interrupted him and suggested that he do the same with clean water … that moment of experimentation and discovery would have disappeared.


In general, adults are concerned about spots. The anecdote that I have told at the beginning of the article is not isolated. On another occasion, for example, we were in a beautiful park that has just been opened in our town. The floor is sand and the structures are made of natural wood. Kids love it. Well, there was a group of adults chatting very indignant about the park, they said something like “It is clear that the City Council has only thought about children when making the park, but it has not thought about the washing machines that we have to put grown ups!!”.

And who do you have to think about to make a park? In children or in washing machines? What would children ask if asked… Interesting and fun parks or parks where they cannot get stained?

Maybe the problem is, I thought, the clothes the children are wearing. What should they wear to play? In my opinion, the same clothes as all day, because that’s what they should do most of the time: play .

I myself thought for a long time that to play outside and be able to stain with pleasure… old clothes. But the reality is that what the little one does most of the time is play outside, stained with mud, dirt and grass … and he does it at any time, in places even where he did not think he could get very stained …

So with the exception of waterproof clothing for winter (because playing wet and cold is not fun at all) I have stopped believing in special clothing for play because I think that should be the norm in their clothing: all clothing of a child should be suitable for playing and staining. In any case, the little ones should have special and beautiful clothes for days and special occasions, not the other way around.

And it is important that parents can tolerate dirt because if we are very aware of it, if we suffer too much from stains or hygiene … the little ones catch it and try to conform to our expectations . Many children end up not wanting to touch the clay, paint or clay with their hands because they have perceived it as something negative. And that can have negative consequences, such as:

– Stiffness in the body, when they limit their movements for fear of getting dirty.

– Difficulties in learning, because before mental and cognitive learning there is a first approach with the body and the experience itself.

For all the above reasons it is so important that children have the freedom to get dirty. It must be assumed that while children learn, discover, explore … they stain . Getting dirty is the reliable confirmation that children have been making the most of their time ! Let’s see it as something positive, as a sign that they have learned a lot, that it is good for their physical and emotional health … and if we still don’t see it clearly … let’s allow it just because it’s fun. Let’s not deprive them of the best part of learning.