Healthy Kids

The idea of letting your kids run around the neighborhood and be kids has fallen out of fashion. Parents are expected to helicopter over their larvae every waking minute. They’re expected to have them participate in games where no one keeps score and everyone gets a trophy.

Those kids are now coming into the workplace and the results are a disaster. Managers are now having to deal with young adults who have been trained that they’re “special” and it’s unfair to expect them to actually accomplish anything. They’re unable to take initiative or criticism and expect promotions simply becuase they tried.

If you want to raise healthy kids, kids who grow into healthy adults, you’ll need to ignore what has become the conventional wisdom. The latest Quick Hitts Podcast, Healthy Kids, gives you a place to start.

The Free Range Kids blog, mentioned in the podcast, can be found here.


7 Comment(s)

  1. Dave, good timing on putting out this podcast. I just finished “One Nation Under Therapy” by Christina Hoff Sommers and Sally Satel.

    Good book. It relates pretty closely to your topic here. I take issue with some of the things said in the book, but the general message is solid. “Therapism”, as the book puts it, tends to underestimate the human ability to cope and deal with real life. It leads to a lot of ill conceived practices.

    But back to what you have to say about the topic. I think you’re misinformed that this is an extremely recent phenomenon. It has much of it’s roots in the 60’s. And even before then there has been a whole lot of back and forth between the “experts” on what is the best way to raise children. More lenience… less lenience…. what types of things they should be exposed to…. how much supervision they need….

    The different philosophies of child rearing seem to come in waves. For a while in the early 20th century it was thought best to tie children’s hands to the bed frame at night in order to prevent them possibly touching themselves. Try and tell me THAT’S not a little to over protective!

    I read a book entitled “The Invention Of Childhood” by Michael Morpurgo a few months back. It goes into good detail about this.

    In any case – I also think you’re wrong that this is primarily a child rearing phenomenon. The idea behind this phenomenon is that the human mind in general can’t handle much adversity and needs to be protected at all costs.

    Think about it. There are women who will sue for sexual harassment if you make a bawdy joke. Somehow, certain people are convinced that this kind of thing constitutes a “hostile working environment”. Most adults can handle a little low brow humour around them, even if they don’t find it amusing.

    But a lot of people are so afraid of this kind of incident now that they call in special counselors to conduct sensitivity workshops. It’s a little nuts, right?

    And let’s not forget that after the 9/11 attacks, a whole lot of “crisis counselors” were predicting a huge epidemic of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and they got a lot of money to prepare for it. But the epidemic never came. The vast majority of people, even when severely traumatized, don’t go on to develop PTSD. The human mind is more resilient than that.

    But the general idea is that if people don’t get immediate counseling after a traumatic event, they’re liable to suffer terribly. That’s why these crisis counselors swarm to the site of every disaster and aggressively pursue victims for counseling. What most of them need more is time alone with family and friends to work through the situation in private.

    There’s also one more area where I think you’re wrong. (I hope you don’t think I’m picking on you). I think that to a certain extent you’re committing the same error as the people you’re complaining about. Namely, you’re underestimating the resilience of children’s minds.

    No matter how much parents may or may not be overprotecting their kids, kids will still grow up. And they’ll still be exposed to competition, adversity, and all the bumps and bruises of real life. Basically, attempts by parents to over protect their children are completely useless, and most children are going to grow up to be upstanding citizens in spite of this kind of influence.

    I don’t think there’s any deficiency in the makeup of the young work force these days. I think perhaps you’ve heard anecdotes to that effect, but it’s just the older generation complaining about the younger generation. That’s been going on since the beginning of time. Certainly there are some snot-nosed brats who could have been exposed to better life lessons, but I’ve seen no evidence that they’re representative of young people as a whole.

    Okay, this has been a long post… I hope you don’t mind my lengthy nit-pickings. You did say that you appreciate all responses :D

    In any case, I want to finish off by recounting an incident that I witnessed a couple of years ago. I was on the bus, when a couple of young girls got on. They were somewhere between 9 and 12 I think. The one girl had apparently ridden the bus before, but for the other one it was her first time riding without parental supervision.

    The girl was so excited! She kept on profusely thanking her friend for bringing her. She was so filled with joy at performing this semi-independent act.

    That left me smiling for the rest of the day. Riding the bus by myself is an activity that I take for granted. But if it’s your first time, such a simple thing takes on a whole new and wonderful meaning.

    Parents, let your children feel this kind of excitement for themselves! It’s one of the joys of childhood!

    Parrot | Aug 4, 2008 | Reply

  2. The new podcast is not available, the link points to the previous one!

    Levee | Aug 5, 2008 | Reply

  3. My comments aren’t showing up… did the program filter it out based on something I said?

    Parrot | Aug 5, 2008 | Reply

  4. Oh, now they show up!

    Parrot | Aug 5, 2008 | Reply

  5. Link fixed, thanks.

    Parrot, your post didn’t show up becuase it had more than one URL in it. That’s one of the things that triggers the spam filter, which grabbed it and held it for moderation.

    I agree that this foolishness comes and goes in waves, but it damages people in the process. The same woman who sues becuase someone told a dirty joke within ear shot is likely to be raising her kids inn a protective bubble. And while that kind of nonsense has always been with us, and always will, it becomes a real problem when it becomes the prevalent way of raising kids.

    As for the workforce, I’m merely repeating common complaints I’ve heard (mostly indirectly) from managers. A lot depends on the corporate culture of the company. Companies who won’t put up with that crap tend to avoid hiring such losers in the first place. If one of them gets past their hiring filters they either grow up fast for get out. Some learn the lesson fast, others never do.

    As for my personal experience, the young puppies I work with are generally harder working and smarter than I am. Either they weren’t helicoptered, or they got over it in college.

    Hittman | Aug 5, 2008 | Reply

  6. And while that kind of nonsense has always been with us, and always will, it becomes a real problem when it becomes the prevalent way of raising kids.

    I’m not sure that you could call this type of overprotectionism the *prevalent* way of raising kids. I see it as more of a fad that gains a lot of adherents, but doesn’t resonate with the majority of the population.

    Of course, there are a lot of utterly ridiculous things that happen as a result. Schools banning dodgeball and games of tag, for example. It’s more a result of this “Therapism” in general, really.

    But I don’t believe that many psychologists actually recommend raising your child in such a bubble, and I don’t believe that it’s the majority opinion that kids need such excessive protection.

    Parrot | Aug 5, 2008 | Reply

  7. I agree with you, Dave, that the number of bubble-boy (not literally) children has been rising. However, I have seen in people my own age (recent college graduates) that we have either dismissed this or our parents got lazy and stopped. Not true of everyone, but I do hope it’s a passing fad.

    In addition, I have a related issue that you might find interesting. In addition to children being over diagnosed with ADHD or formation of severe allergies, overprotective bubbles have caused the problem of over-dependence on parents. My father (interesting), told me an interesting story about one of his past employees. This employee had a “problem” or made a “mistake” (not appropriate to post) at work and instead of coming to talk with my father about it … ended up asking his own parents to speak on his behalf. If I’m not mistaken, this individual was asked to leave due to that over-dependence and lack of responsibility.

    So in short, I feel there ARE people who rebel against such over-protective parents and are the better for it, but over-dependence and lack of responsibility are severe problems that can arise from this. It’s really difficult to say how to raise a child and it might depend on the child case by case, too.

    Derek | Aug 6, 2008 | Reply

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