I saw an interesting post on Peaceful Controversy about protecting or exposing children and it got me to thinking about just how much damage we do to children by not exposing them to the harsh realities of life. As humans, childhood is the period in which we develop and hone the skills we will need as adults, but when we become so overprotective, we prevent children from developing those skills.
More importantly we give our children a false view of life. We give them an impression of life being, if not perfect, without pitfalls. We minimize the value of the need to achieve. Why get good grades when know you will be promoted to the next grade with your ‘peers’ even if you aren’t on the same level? Why master skills when the mastering of them means nothing.
When I was in school, kids got left back if they did not master the basic skills necessary to move up a grade. Yes, it was embarrassing. Yes, egos got bruised. And yes, it did lead to teasing from the other kids in school. Getting left back was something to be avoided, therefore students worked to master those skills. If they did get left back then they worked twice as hard at mastering them next year.
However we now put so much emphasis on a child’s ego, that we ignore the difficulties we place on them later. The child who got left back and learned those skills grew into an adult that had mastered the skill of dealing with adversity. Now we socially promote children who have great self esteem until they become adults and have to deal with the reality of adversity. They do not have the skills because we refused to let them learn them.