5.11.13

We are spoiling our children

I don't mean in the 'buying them tons of crap' way (although we do that too) I mean in the 'stifling them by protecting them' way.

We are told to tell children they are great and that we are proud of them at every turn (and no I'm not advocating telling them they are vile and frankly, when snotty, an embarrassment), we are encouraged to spout the 'You can be what ever you want to be' mantra, and at party time, pass-the-parcel now has to be sure to contain the EXACT number of layers so that EVERY CHILD gets a turn and ...and every layer must have a prize!

We are in Wonderland, where everybody has won and all shall have prizes!

Life is not like that. Childhood is practice for life. Playing is important but only if we let it be real. I don't suggest snapping all your child's toys into pieces and yelling 'Life is tough! Deal with it!' when they are 4, but letting your child win every game (or even 'a fair share' of games) doesn't help them.

All animals play and as they grow and get older the play changes too. Play is a way animals learn about their peers, what will work at making a friend or an enemy, how to get along, how to stay safe. If we tell our children all to 'play nice' that might be fine until the day they come across a child that has never been told that. I have always told DD we don't do hitting. But I have also (for example) explained how to keep herself safe should someone hit her! (no one has ever hit her so she has never, yet, had to use the advice)

Children need time to find things out with minimal adult supervision as they grow. We need to keep them alive and free from injury; but hurt feelings, and how to deal with them, are a thing that needs to be learned. Being sad and the feelings that surround that are very real, play can help children learn how to cope later when they are adults.

Failing is something that will happen one day (unless you are amazingly lucky!) and far better that you have learned how to cope with failure when it was (relatively) unimportant than to have it thrust upon you for the first time as a young adult.

Children certainly need to know we love them, but not that we love them because they are clever, or a winner, or pretty, we love them because they are 'them'.

Do you remember the first time you failed or were sad or felt something wasn't fair? Were you a child? How did you cope?

Maybe you think I'm wrong? Should childhood be a happy protected time where fairness and laughter rule?

Love to hear your comments.