10 Reasons Why I Think Kids Today Are Overprotected

1. I think that if I gave my kids the same freedoms that I (and all my friends) had as a kid growing up, someone would call the Division of Family Services. In elementary school we used to ride our bikes (without helmets!) all over the neighborhood and the only rule was to be home by dark. It was common for kids to walk to elementary school and now that has all but become extinct.

2. I think that kids are overprotected in large part because the internet and cable news wrongly leads parents to believe that child abduction has significantly increased. It hasn’t. According to David Finkelhor who is the director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center, the only abductions that have increased are the ones done by estranged parents resulting from divorce. It turns out that we shouldn’t warn our kids to avoid “stranger danger” as much as a mom and dad.

3. I think that because kids have cell phones allowing their parents to keep in touch with them, they should have more freedom. They don’t. If you’re a parent, it’s likely that you lived in BCP (Before Cell Phones). When you left the house no one could get in touch with you. You might have left your parents a note that you were out with friends but regardless of how they found out that you were gone, they couldn’t get in touch with you unless you called home. Now that we can use modern technology to stay in constant touch with our kids, why do they have less freedom than you did growing up?

4. I think that parents overprotect their kids because they are afraid to let kids fail. Breaking news: Failure is an unavoidable part of life and good for your kids.

5. I think that over protection leads to kids who are less confident, take less risks, and are more insecure and timid. See this ebook by Tim Elmore.

In an essay called “The Play Deficit,” Peter Gray, the Boston College psychologist, chronicles the fallout from the loss of the old childhood culture, and it’s a familiar list of the usual ills attributed to Millennials: depression, narcissism, and a decline in empathy. In the past decade, the percentage of college-age kids taking psychiatric medication has spiked, according to a 2012 study by the American College Counseling Association. Practicing psychologists have written (in this magazine and others) about the unique identity crisis this generation faces—a fear of growing up and, in the words of Brooke Donatone, a New York–based therapist, an inability “to think for themselves.”

6. I think that over protection means that kids don’t play sports in the neighborhood and therefore play more organized sports under the supervision of an adult coach.

7. I think because kids have less freedom to be outside with their friends, they watch more television, use more social media, and play more xbox.

8. I think that over protection is a factor leading to increased childhood obesity.

9. I think that a variety of sociological factors including the declining birthrate, the increasing number of homes in which both parents work, and increased divorce rates contribute to parents making their children the center of their lives. Interesting and surprising fact: parents spend more time with their kids now than they did 40 years ago.

10. I think that parents want to be good parents. Obvious I know. But what’s not so obvious is that good parents raise independent kids who know how to handle failure, are willing to take appropriate risks. I wonder if our over protection is keeping us from being good parents?

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