Childhood Independence is a Mental-Health Issue

Failing Privately Can Teach Kids Resilience

Have you seen this article?

This article discusses how important independence is, and how our kids mental health is suffering because of it. It’s informative and urges us as parents to give our kids time with no one watching in order to play. We know this generation of kids is the most anxious we’ve seen since we started tracking children’s mental health. We also know they’re the most watched generation. 

But, what the article leaves out is one of the main reasons why independence is so important.

Let me give you an example– 

Earlier today, I stumbled on the sidewalk and looked around to see who saw me. I was relieved that no one was looking at me, and quietly smiled to myself. 

Why the relief? I was relieved because no one saw my mistake. It helped me laugh at myself a bit.

When I’m cooking, and my husband is watching me, I’m more careful about following the recipe than I would be if I was alone. (Personally, I find recipes to be light suggestions about the way we could do things. My husband follows recipes to a T. He is the better chef. I wonder why.)

My husband loves me. I don’t care much about the opinions of strangers. And yet, with both close family and complete strangers, I don’t want them to see me stumble. 

When Do Our Kids Have Space To Fail Privately?

It’s the same for our kids. This generation of young humans are the most watched young mammals in Earth’s history. During no other time and place, with no other species of mammal, have our youngest members been constantly observed, cajoled, taught-at, and guided. Our kids go from breakfast to the bus to school to the after school program to pickup to dinner to iPad time to bed. And the whole time, there’s an adult watching. 

Aside from all the important aspects the article mentions, there’s the aspect of failing privately. 

Our kids need time to have that Lego set not go their way, and pause and decide what to do next (keep trying, take a break, or tear the whole thing down!). They, like all people, need to be able to mess up with no observers. 

Resilience is Learned, But it Can’t be Taught.

Only when something doesn’t go our way and only we decide how to handle it, without someone else’s input, do we see what we’re made of.  That is how we build resilience.

So, take a look at this article, and think about your kids opportunities to fail privately.

If you know that your kids need more independence but aren’t sure where to start, this is a core (and extremely effective!) component of the Raising Resilient Kids course. If you feel 1:1 would be best, I have a few spots available!

Please feel free to reach out.

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