The survey of 2,000 parents reveals that almost two-thirds discourage their children from messy activities such as baking and sport.
Parents use excuses such as ‘You can do it tomorrow’, ‘It’s dirty’ or ‘There’s not enough time’ to dissuade their children.
More than two-fifths would prefer their children to play with an iPad over painting.
The poll of mothers and fathers of seven- to 11-year-olds, commissioned by Persil, also reveals that parents’ dislike of messy play activities is rubbing off on their children.
A third of children, whose parents took part in the survey, admitted they don’t like dirt and mess, with close to half stating that looking ‘cool’ was more important than having fun outside.
For more than half of the children (61 per cent) watching TV is their favourite activity, followed by playing computer games (48 per cent).
A fifth of the children surveyed had never heard of a mud pie and of those that had, more than half had never made one.
Steven Chown, programme development manager for Play England, said, ‘The Persil survey confirms our own research that many parents are becoming more risk averse. Getting messy is part of a happy, healthy childhood and such play is linked with a range of cognitive and developmental benefits. Given the opportunity, today’s children would do exactly the same things as we did when we were children –climbing trees, making mud pies and splashing around in puddles – so it is important parents encourage this form of play and don’t worry too much about the mess.’