Allowing children to fail

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On the way home from the gym today, my sixteen year old began to resemble the young gentleman above. For no particular reason, he just had a negative outlook on everything. Pretty normal stuff for teenagers, but it probably was just enough to get me to pay attention to Mickey Goodman’s article, “Are We Raising A Generation Of Helpless Kids?”

Parents want “a better life” for their kids. Too often, we translate that into more material things: the latest Xbox, hundred dollar jeans, or the cellphone flavor of the month. We feel like we’re helping, but perhaps ignore the long term result,  “We gave our kids every comfort – and now they can’t delay gratification.”

More than a few years ago, I coached a soccer team of five-year-olds in a preseason tournament. They played a team of six-year-olds in the finals, and lost 10-0. An overly competitive parent screamed at the opposing coach and referees for humiliating his son. In the huddle after the game, I asked the kids if they knew who’d won the game. After a 10-0 shellacking, everyone there knew, except the five-year-olds. They just wanted to know if they were going to get ice cream.

If you’re a parent, you should read the article.  Are we raising a generation of helpless kids?  No, and that’s an overly harsh headline written to garner readers.  But if the takeaway is that we need to, “allow children to fail while they are young in order to succeed when they are adults,” I’m on board. (OP 11/25/2013)

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