Interim reports

Education Learning Log

Growing our children

I sometimes wonder what we are doing to our children as a society. As I look around I see children who have a very different experience of childhood to the one that I had. We (and I include myself here as a parent), often believe that our children can’t handle difficult situations and that danger lurks around every corner. We jump in and “help” when any difficulty arises for our children.

The very things which we think children should worry about are often things we’ve invented for them to worry about. Too often we invade our children’s lives, taking away any control for them to experiment, learn and overcome difficulties by themselves. The things which we have replaced “danger” with, are often more dangerous and less understood than the bogeymen we invented. Do we really know how to help our children? Is it better for a child to have no contact with mishap and learning by experience?

When I was little if the playground had a bumpy area and I fell and grazed my knee, I would jump up and remember to be more careful there in future. Today we replace these areas with rubberised surfaces. If I fell when I was climbing a tree, I either learned to climb better or decided that maybe cycling was a better option… When I went out for a couple of hours to play, I told my parents when I’d be back and got on with it, sometimes getting into scrapes, but gradually learning how to cope with life and the world. Whereas I learned to regulate myself and my behaviour when out of contact with my parents, today’s child can contact by mobile their parent all the time. Does this constant ability to be in contact help our children to learn self reliance? If you can get anything you want instantly when you are ten, what happens when you are in a marriage or relationship later in life? If you never learn to cut the tie with your parents when out playing as a youngster when can you learn to self regulate and really use the values/lessons which our parents try to teach us about how to be?

If every time you are at football training you can phone Mum at the end and say where you are standing ready to be picked up, when do you ever learn to organise and plan for the future? If you always have parents helping and jumping in to sort things for you and keep you from danger, at what point as a teenager do you stop communicating with them all together?

I worry about the mental health issues, anxiety, anger and lack of resilience we are building up for our youngsters in the future. P Duignan talks about the importance of callouses on our souls for leadership development. Often as we experience difficulties and sadnesses in life we learn huge lessons and grow as people. I can pinpoint times in my life which were difficult but I know that when I felt the hurdles were too big, those were the ones which once I jumped, helped me the most. Let’s not take the joy of learning through all life’s ups and downs away from our children. Yes let’s protect our children but we also need to give them a degree of assessed risk so they can learn to be fully functioning, independent adults.

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November 5, 2007 - Posted by | Parent Consultations |

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