When we raise kids unaccustomed to facing anything on their own, including risk, failure, and hurt feelings, our society and even our economy are threatened. Yet modern child-rearing practices and laws seem all but designed to cultivate this lack of preparedness. There’s the fear that everything children see, do, eat, hear, and lick could hurt them. And there’s a newer belief that has been spreading through higher education that words and ideas themselves can be traumatizing.
How did we come to think a generation of kids can’t handle the basic challenges of growing up? __ Reason
New generations of children seem to be swept along on a massive wave of fear, incompetence, and perpetual immature adolescence. College only seems to make it worse!
… colleges treat their students like hatchlings not yet ready to leave the nest, as opposed to preparing and encouraging them to fly.
Safe spaces, speech codes, segregated cafeterias/dorms/student unions, lack of ideological diversity in the classrooms and guest lectures, etc. all lead to fragile little snowflakes who will not be able to face the world as it is.
Children Need to face Risk in order to Develop
At the same time that adults are choosing to have fewer and fewer children, they also seem to feel it necessary to protect their rare “trophy children” from all risks whatsoever. But the real world has no tolerance for human beings who are incapable of dealing with challenges and risks. Sooner or later these special young things will pay the price for their parents’ lack of sense.
It is much worse than that, of course. Modern societies are in danger of ceding the common spaces to violent and ideologically intolerant gangs and special interest groups. Civil society cannot exist in the absence of civilised common spaces, where people of varying backgrounds are free to mingle and interact. Interaction on the internet is a poor substitute for interactions in real life.
When we keep our kids constantly supervised by an adult, we think we are keeping them safe. But in fact we are doing the opposite. Kids need some independence — and even a little risk.
A study on risky play published in Evolutionary Psychology found that kids ‘dose’ themselves with the level of risk they can handle.
… Children deprived of these opportunities can end up more anxious. They haven’t been able to build up their bravery, organise their own games or solve their own spats. They have never got lost and had to find their way home, scared and then triumphant. Their coping skills are stunted.
That could be why today’s students are having a harder time than earlier generations at getting along on their own. From 2011 to 2016, the number of undergraduates in America reporting ‘overwhelming anxiety’ jumped from 50 to 62 per cent. Having been protected from so many risks and discomforts, children remain hypersensitive to them on the cusp of adulthood. __ https://www.spectator.co.uk/2017/10/if-you-dont-let-children-take-risks-you-are-damaging-them/
The Fragile Generation
One day last year, a citizen on a prairie path in the Chicago suburb of Elmhurst came upon a teen boy chopping wood. Not a body. Just some already-fallen branches. Nonetheless, the onlooker called the cops.
Officers interrogated the boy, who said he was trying to build a fort for himself and his friends. A local news site reports the police then “took the tools for safekeeping to be returned to the boy’s parents.”
… Today many kids are raised like veal. Only 13 percent of them even walk to school. Many who take the bus wait at the stop with parents beside them like bodyguards. For a while, Rhode Island was considering a bill that would prohibit children from getting off the bus in the afternoon if there wasn’t an adult waiting to walk them home. This would have applied until seventh grade. __ Reason
Not only have the new generation of fearful parents bought into the “philosophy of riskless child-raising,” but police forces and other civil servants have been co-opted into the perverse project of infantilising the next generations.
The general incompetence and lifelong immaturity that flows naturally out of the lack of childhood risk and adventure, is just one of the prices that society will have to pay. An increasing breakdown of public civility and overall law and order are additional likely consequences in large central city areas of Europe and the Anglosphere — where this plague of lifelong infantilisation is most severe.
… without adults intervening, the kids have to do all the problem solving for themselves, from deciding what game to play to making sure the teams are roughly equal. Then, when there’s an argument, they have to resolve it themselves. That’s a tough skill to learn, but the drive to continue playing motivates them to work things out. To get back to having fun, they first have to come up with a solution, so they do. This teaches them that they can disagree, hash it out, and—perhaps with some grumbling—move on.
These are the very skills that are suddenly in short supply on college campuses. __ Lenore Skenazy and Jonathan Haidt in Reason