The Resilient Child is Not the Enemy

An article posted at the beginning of the year revealed that children who rise above challenges in their youth become successful adults at the cost of their future health, and even went  so far as to suggest that maybe children shouldn’t be allowed to endure the stress of overcoming whatever obstacles they are presented with.

When I first read the article, I was livid. It sounded like the writers were encouraging adults to discourage children from daring to set and reach for goals. In fact, the exact note I left for myself in Instapaper was, Yes, let’s find a way to panic those breaking free into rejoining the drones. Because that was what I took away from that reading.

But re-reading the article after several months hasn’t improved my opinion of the writers’ position. Where does anyone get off saying that a child shouldn’t be encouraged to reach for their potential, to learn early how to set goals, hot to identify and handle setbacks? Because that’s really what this article is saying. That embuing children and their plastic, adaptable minds with skills that will enable them to become successful adults isn’t a good idea.

We’ve had this problem for a couple of generations now (my own included) where people seem to have developed what has often been called a sense of entitlement. They seem to not be able to cope with…anything, really. And part of that is because we weren’t really expected to handle things as kids. My generation saw both parents go to work, and as a result were a bit more indulgent with us to try to make up for not spending as much time with us. It was never our fault we did anything; we were just acting out because we missed our parents. Or because one of our parents was no longer living with us, because we were the first generation to have more kids living in broken homes than in nuclear family units. That coddling hasn’t done us any favors, especially those who have struggled to figure out how to function beyond it.

It’s time that we remember children are capable of taking on challenges, of setting their own challenges and successfully managing them, that being given opportunities to take chances and learn how to handle setbacks in a safe zone will take them farther than telling them why their failures are someone else’s fault. We don’t have to throw them to the wolves; we just have to enable them to be able to fail, learn from that failure, and pick themselves up and try again. That’s the key: We have to give them a safe space to fail while they’re learning that resilience. Learning they can fail will go a long way toward minimizing the stress addressed in that article.

Sorry for the soapbox. It probably won’t be the only rant this week.

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