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Thu Jan 10, 2019, 07:23 PM

By mollycoddling our children, we're fuelling mental illness in teenagers

Of course we want to keep children safe. But exposure to normal stresses and strains is vital for their future wellbeing.

We talk incessantly about how to make children more “resilient”, but whatever we’re doing, it’s not working. Rates of anxiety disorders and depression are rising rapidly among teenagers, and in the US universities can’t hire therapists fast enough to keep up with the demand. What are we doing wrong?

Nassim Taleb invented the word “antifragile” and used it in his book by the same name to describe a small but very important class of systems that gain from shocks, challenges, and disorder. Bones and the banking system are two examples; both get weaker – and more prone to catastrophic failure – if they go for a long time without any stressors and then face a major challenge. The immune system is an even better example: it requires exposure to certain kinds of germs and potential allergens in childhood in order to develop to its full capacity. Parents who treat their children as if they are fragile (for example, by keeping them away from dirt and potential allergens, such as peanuts) are depriving their children’s immature immune systems of the learning experiences those systems need to develop their maximum protective capacity.

Children’s social and emotional abilities are as antifragile as their immune systems. If we overprotect kids and keep them “safe” from unpleasant social situations and negative emotions, we deprive them of the challenges and opportunities for skill-building they need to grow strong. Such children are likely to suffer more when exposed later to other unpleasant but ordinary life events, such as teasing and social exclusion.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jan/10/by-mollycoddling-our-children-were-fuelling-mental-illness-in-teenagers

11 replies, 911 views

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Reply By mollycoddling our children, we're fuelling mental illness in teenagers (Original post)
Ron Obvious Jan 10 OP
hedda_foil Jan 10 #1
Bradshaw3 Jan 10 #4
littlemissmartypants Jan 11 #5
DavidDvorkin Jan 11 #7
dlk Jan 10 #2
BigmanPigman Jan 10 #3
littlemissmartypants Jan 11 #6
Aristus Jan 11 #8
crim son Jan 11 #9
Aristus Jan 11 #10
uriel1972 Jan 11 #11

Response to Ron Obvious (Original post)

Thu Jan 10, 2019, 07:25 PM

1. Something like this article is published every few years. Ignore it.

Some parents are always over protective in someone's opinion. Too many kids are coddled in any era according to someone. Parents do their best. And so-called expert advice tends to turn out to be wrong a few years later.

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Response to hedda_foil (Reply #1)

Thu Jan 10, 2019, 08:55 PM

4. I'll believe the statistics

If you read the story - and the many links to statistical data that back up the author's claims - there are sharp rises in mental health issues for the children they are describing.

Such as:
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/jul/12/sharp-rise-in-under-19s-being-treated-by-nhs-mental-health-services

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Response to Bradshaw3 (Reply #4)

Fri Jan 11, 2019, 12:08 AM

5. +101010 nt

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Response to hedda_foil (Reply #1)

Fri Jan 11, 2019, 12:46 AM

7. You're right

"Kids these days." "Parents these days." We keep hearing versions of both.

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Response to Ron Obvious (Original post)

Thu Jan 10, 2019, 07:27 PM

2. It's a Different World When All of Our Children Need Active Shooter Drills

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Response to Ron Obvious (Original post)

Thu Jan 10, 2019, 08:27 PM

3. As an elementary school teacher for almost 20 uears I agree 100%.

Parents are ridiculous with their kids and it gets worse every year. I am almost an expert in this area. I have seen it all and so have my educated and experienced co-workers.

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Response to Ron Obvious (Original post)

Fri Jan 11, 2019, 12:11 AM

6. Kicking for my teen. Thank you for the post, Ron Obvious. eom

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Response to Ron Obvious (Original post)

Fri Jan 11, 2019, 10:12 AM

8. I came to the conclusion a long time ago that the cruel and stringent method of parenting

popular before the Civil Rights movement was designed to inure children to the sight of cruelty inflicted upon others. It seemed to be a parent's way of ensuring that the next generation would keep various disliked minorities 'in their place'.

I've often viewed Britain's history with violent and repressive boarding schools as a 'stiff upper lip' training measure to make sure future colonial magistrates and administrators would be able to either commit, or turn a blind eye to, the oppression of occupied peoples.

This whole "we're coddling kids" thing seems to be a way of masking the true sentiment: "Kids are growing up today without our hatreds and prejudices! That's just wrong!"

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Response to Aristus (Reply #8)

Fri Jan 11, 2019, 04:37 PM

9. I don't believe that's the issue at all.

What I've observed over the years is parents who are afraid to set limits, who don't have the heart to "burden" their children with anything like basic responsibilities, and who in general, have the lowest of expectations in every regard for their kids. It's no surprise when those children live down to their parents' expectations and it bites 'em in the behind later in life.

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Response to crim son (Reply #9)

Fri Jan 11, 2019, 04:53 PM

10. I agree that that is a large element of the problem overall.

I still tend to dislike parents who insist that they have to condition their children to a 'cruel' world. The world isn't cruel; it's indifferent. And in some ways, that may be worse.

But around the world, life in general is much less harsh than it used to be. Provided parents set limits, as you point out, I think kids need to be kids while they still can.

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Response to Ron Obvious (Original post)

Fri Jan 11, 2019, 05:00 PM

11. As someone whose mental illness was caused or exacerbated...

by parental abuse/neglect. I would have loved to have been kept safe and treated like I was loved. YMMV

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