Saturday 25 March 2023

"When Children's Independence Goes Down, Their Mental Health Issues Go Up"

"A wide swathe of evidence showing that a major (but not sole) cause of the increase in anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts among young people over recent decades has been the continuous decline in opportunities for them to play and roam independent of adults...
    "Reversing this trend — stat! — is key, as 'children who have more opportunities for independent activities are not only happier in the short run, because the activities engender happiness and a sense of competence, but also happier in the long run, because independent activities promote the growth of capacities for coping with life’s inevitable stressors.'
    "Why are trust, responsibility, and independence so crucial to children's mental health?
    "Because that’s how you get a sense of what you can handle, and of who you are in the world: A competent, growing person — not a baby or a bonsai tree....
    "The 'Journal of Pediatrics' article talks about how important it is to have an 'internal locus of control' — a sense that you can make things happen, and deal with problems that arise. An 'external locus of control' — as I think you can guess — is the feeling that someone or something else is in the driver’s seat. (And you’re in a 5-point harness.)
    "Our culture accidentally has swapped out childhood freedom and responsibility for adult-run activities. We thought we were eliminating risk, and making them happy.
    "We went too far."

~ Lenore Skenazy, from her post 'When Childrens’ Independence Goes Down, Their Mental Health Issues Go Up: 'Journal of Pediatrics''


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