What is the biggest problem children face today?
You might imagine that it is abduction by a sexual predator. Or being hit by a car while crossing a street or riding a bike. Or a variety of other things that come to the mind of a concerned parent.
No, parental fear, in my mind, is the biggest problem kids are facing today – parental fear that is totally and absolutely unfounded, caused by the constant media coverage of every tragic event in the universe. Parental fear that is keeping children indoors, or over-programmed with extra-curricular activities designed to “keep them busy” or “keep them out of trouble”.
Statistics prove that children are safer today than they have ever been. It is people they know, relatives or friends, perhaps, who are kidnapping kids. It is car accidents that are killing them, and home accidents that are injuring them.
The result of parental fear is children who are never allowed to explore their world, to test their limits, to meet new friends and have needed social interaction on their own. They believe, because of being overly supervised, that the world is dangerous and that they aren’t capable of handling it. Their creativity is stunted, their decision-making is limited, and their lives are regulated with sports, music lessons, tutoring, and homework, with computer and TV their off-hours recreation. Research shows that children are spending an average of over seven hours a day on computers, tablets, TV or cell phones, and that more and more kids today have poor physical fitness, and are overweight or obese.
By letting go of fear, parents can allow their children to get outside to play, run around, dig in the dirt, collect bugs and worms, climb trees, make friends, and all the activities that children have done in the past. A report recently published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, found that encouraging kids to engage in unplanned physical activity promotes self-esteem, creativity and resilience. If this is missing, there is likelihood that children will become depressed and anxious adults with limited decision-making experience.
I’m not saying that you just open the door and let kids go freely and unsupervised. You must be there to keep an eye on them, to set limits and ensure safety. (Please see my blog post entitled “How to Give Your Kids More Freedom without Fear” for some ideas to get you started.)
Please, take some steps to face your fears, do some research yourself, to discover the real facts about the reduced dangers in childhood today. You’ll understand that your fears are likely not based on fact.
Step forward, take a risk to unleash your kids and, as a result, help them grow up into mature, healthy, self-reliant, independent adults.
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