Experts disagree on the extent and causes of the problem. But most agree on the solution: building up resiliency. Adults, teens, children – it’s important for everyone to have the ability to be able to bounce back from problems and even tragedy.
Lenore Skenazy, president of the nonprofit Let Grow and the author of “Free-Range Kids,” believes that helping kids overcome anxiety is a key way to build up resiliency. In a recent article in the New York Times, Skenazy and psychologist Camilo Ortiz cite a variety of societal trends that push kids toward a “more curated, less autonomous childhood.”
While there could be many reasons our kids are suffering, what if the problem was simply that kids are growing up so overprotected that they’re scared of the world? If so, the solution would be simple, too:Start letting them do more things on their own.
The authors seek to promote childhood independence by persuading parents to allow more unsupervised and unplanned activities.
“Kids should have a loving and secure relationship with their parents, of course,” Skenazy and Ortiz write. “But if you think back to a time you were alone as a child and got lost or maybe fell off your bike, you probably still remember what happened next. You limped all the way home or asked a stranger for help. You managed. And that was a milestone. Kids need a whole lot of those experiences. They are anxiety killers.”
Changing these trends is an immense challenge. Contrary to the evidence, many parents believe our world today is more dangerous than ever. And even when parents want to allow their children to be more independent, government policy often blocks them by enforcing overly-protective regulations.
But some change has come. Eight states have passed legislative change promoting a balance between protecting kids from real harms while also encouraging childhood independence.
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