As much as it pains me to type it, I am a millennial according to the way polls split generations. Luckily I am not a safe space needing millennial. This idea of safe spaces brings me to the topic of this article, Coddling our children.
The lack of discipline in children and the rise of letting children have what ever they want, in my opinion, has led to a considerable decrease in the resilience of millennial adults. I think it goes without saying that beating your child is not discipline and that is not what I am talking about but the lack of boundaries being set and consequences, whether natural or artificial, are not being allowed to correct behavior. Without correction or reason children never learn about consequences and how to deal with or work through them.
Children need boundaries, they need to have consequences to see patterns and to develop and understand how things work. To remove consequences from life is to take away valuable learning experiences that will help prepare the child as they progress in life. These learning experiences help create an internal structure for the child to set their own boundaries and understand consequences and interact with the natural world as well as with others.
These are given out so that children do not know what it feels like to lose. Certainly, this was born out of a noble idea, nobody wants their child to be sad, feel the anguish of putting your best out there and coming up short, however, negating these feelings does not make them magically disappear from life. As they get older, they will lose and they won’t have the internal structures in place to deal with this disappointment. This goes for protecting our children from differing viewpoints as well. This point is usually for older children but these older children do not have the coping mechanisms to deal with those who disagree with them. This creates an environment where children with differing viewpoints can’t have a discussion because somebody asks for a safe space because they cannot cope with, and feel unsafe, when others have a different view points.
What can be done about it?
There are a few things that can be done, and the parent is the one to help the child do it. A foundation must be set and tools obtained by the child to become a resilient, independent thinking, strong adult.
Children should be exposed to uncertainty or risks. I am not saying to let them go cliff jumping at night when they are three. I am saying that you can let them climb trees with out fearing for their lives. Kids used to work in coal mines and factories, they are more resilient than you may think, we just don’t give them the opportunity to show it. Let them go out there and jump out of the swing, climb trees, run in the yard without supervision. You can always give them advice and caution them to be observant but let them push themselves and grow. They are finding out their place within their bodies, let them work on it without constant “Jimmy get down from their”. Letting them push themselves gies them the opportunity to see how far they can go and how hard they can push.
Along with this is give them independence. An example from my own house, my son always had me pour his drinks because he spilled juice all over the place the first time. Admittedly I didn’t want to pour his drinks anymore and he was able to pour it himself. Now I find myself in the situation where I worry he will spill things and offer my help and he tells me “daddy I got it”. He now does this with climbing trees, climbing onto my suburban and pretty much everything else. All I do now is offer guidance when he asks or when it is warranted. Let them out, run free and explore. You don’t have to keep them under lock and key. The worry with this is usually abductions, but these are rare and becoming even more so. Take precautions if you must but don’t stifle their independence when it is such a key element for their development in all facets of their life.
As I stated above with participation trophies, nobody wants to see their child hurt. What participation awards and the culture around that breeds is undeserved praise and entitlement. Your child does not and should not be praised for everything they do. If they do a good job, tell them so but there is no need to lavish praise on mundane things. If they lose, guide them through and help them cope. They will internalize this and be able to handle it better as they come across these situations agian, and it will happen again. Give praise when they accomplish something worthwhile rahter than praising the small things. It bolsters a sense of entitlement which is never good.
Along with quelling a sense of entitlement is to make your kids work for what they get. I am not talking about having your kids go mow all the grass so they can earn their food. I am saying give them some responsibility, let them earn money or in some houses points to purchase things. This helps instill a work ethic and shows them that you must work to get what you want rather than having things handed to you. I still remember the first thing I bought with my own money, a green bean bag chair. Working for the money to purchase that made me realize that I needed to take care of the things I buy. Nobody would be replacing it, it was soley my responsibilty. This also teaches a valuable skill that many millennials lack now, money management skills. Many of us I am sure, have felt the pinch of a tight budget and wished we knew these lessons sooner, this is your chance to pass it on to your children. You can help your children learn the skills and lessons associated with good money managment by letting them manage the money they have earned. Yeah they may blow it a few times but you can guide them and help them learn. You can teach them to save, know much to spend and you can see how they value their time and money in the process.
Are these sure-fire tips on how to avoid raising a safe space needing adult? No, but I believe this will go a long way in preventing it.
As a non-safe space needing millennial, it pains me to see how hapless my generation is. My hope is that this will help you give your kids a foundation they can build on so they can be strong, resilient, independent thinking adults.