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Are we setting up our children for a fall?

I recently looked at a report from a Social Affairs Correspondent that said that many children are having mental health problems due to family breakdown, peer pressure and stress, apparently Britain is one of the worst countries in which to be a child.

According to one of the experts “Young people feel under a lot more pressure than they used to. They have high lifestyle expectations, which are often not met.”

I showed this to my aunt she just giggled and was glad that soon she would be off this planet. According to her kids have never had it so easy. I asked her to explain.

Margaret was a child during World War two a very stressful time to be a child. Her father died leaving her mother a single woman raising three kids in poverty. Before school she had to go with my dad to collect coal and wood in a pram so that after school they could sell it, they had to clean out and feed the chickens before going to school.

Not the lovely schools of today, schools as they were back then, smelly kids and teachers, being often hit, dunces hats. Filled with kids who were also experiencing what she was and had to fight to get what they wanted or go without, yet she says they were mainly happy and as carefree as they could be.

After school, they all had to work to make ends meet and await the enemy planes that evening.

Children in those days learnt to survive and grow, and many went on to prosper and be very successful. According to Margaret stress is seeing enemy planes flying overhead knowing that they want to kill you and your family, sitting in the cellar with bombs going off around you not knowing if you would be alive in ten minutes let alone in the morning. If you were alive, then you had to deal with discovering that many of the people you knew were not.

"How did you cope?" I asked. "We were glad to be alive and got on with it." I knew a German lady who was a little older, she was on the other side at the time, and she said the same thing very much.

How would our children survive today?
Another article in the Scholastic Instructor magazine asks if children are being overpraised and that by focusing on self-esteem and confidence we may be turning out children that are ill prepared for the real world. The two ladies I mentioned all had excellent survival skills and later in life had many painful experiences, as many people do.

Yet they both went on to lead healthy lives, face adversary neither of them ever suffered from stress or depression or had any mental illness.

I just wonder if by protecting our children and wrapping them up in cotton wool we are setting them up for many falls later in life.

Telling our children that they are smart, intelligent and loved is important, but it is also just as essential to allow them to fail and fight and learn how the real world works as well But what do we do? We tell them that they can do anything and become whatever they want. Well, did you?

Children need to learn that things will not always go our way and as parents it is our responsibility to teach them this as well as teaching them to handle stress, anxiety, fear and of course never to worry, just do what is necessary.

To allow them to experience feedback sometimes called failure. To learn that there are people out there who will hurt them and that it is their responsibility to learn to recognise and handle these problems in life and learn the skills to deal with it.

We tell our children many lies that if they believe us will hurt them when they enter the real world and discover that they are average and that other people are prettier, smarter and have more social skills than them. Some become very distressed when they learn that they will have to work hard to get what they want and in life most of the time it does not go the way we want for the first few attempts.

I recently spent some time with a young man who boasted that he had just got straight A’s a fantastic achievement, so I asked how many other students got the same results? He was proud to tell me that eighty-five per cent of his classmates got the same results.

An excellent achievement for him, his school and his classmates. In my day that meant he got a C, he was average. What is going to happen when he enters the real world and discovers this fact?

Just a thought.