Simple, kids these days are wusses (whoa, get back in there crotchety old man!), and here's a good example (from an article on Salon-click here for the full article): "Abbie Kaplan, a junior at the Boston Latin School — a public high school that requires students to take an exam for entry — knows what she means.On a scale of 1 to 10, she places her stress level at a pretty steady 9. She regularly has four hours of homework a night, some done before swim practice. She eats dinner around 9:30 p.m., then finishes the rest of her homework and generally goes to bed at 11:30. Then she’s up at 6 a.m. so she can be at school by 7:45. She calls her hectic schedule “the new normal.”
So, um, I also went to Boston Latin School and had a similarly rigorous schedule. I seem to be ok now. That is not the "new normal". It's the new unprepared. Today's young people seem less than confident that they can succeed under pressure without some sort of help. And it is 100% our fault. For some reason, in the past decade or two, we have stopped letting children learn some very critical skills, like problem solving, self-sufficiency, and negotiating tricky situations. We make their schedules, make their lunches, set up playdates and rarely let them roam out of sight. We do things for them because it's easier (I am very guilty of this!), and when they have a problem, we solve it, instead of encouraging them to figure it out. When I was a kid, I roamed my neighborhood like a wild cat, and encountered many situations which required me to do some serious thinking and negotiating: Is this the house with the scary dog? Better go waaaay around. Is there where those mean kids hang out? I could buck up and push through or hide in the bushes. Tossed outside with nothing to do? Well look! Here's an old tire in the woods-adventure ensues! All of these were opportunities for problem solving, creative thinking and stress management. I once got stuck climbing the fence in my backyard when my belt loop got caught and I was hanging there...alone..just dangling in the breeze. Instead of screaming for help, which my kids would do immediately, I thought about it for a bit, made a painful (the horror! pain!) leap, and set myself free Pretty sure i never mentioned it to my parents. Meanwhile, my 7 year old comes running when she has a broken fingernail. Running. As my mom lovingly pointed out to us this summer, "they can't do ANYTHING." And she was right.
So what to do? My husband I have actually started to make a real effort to encourage our kids to be more self-sufficient in the past few weeks. We don't jump in to help as easily, they have to do more stuff, and we are slowly, ever so slowly, allowing them to play farther away from us (so scary! for us, that is). And it's been working-Ella actually put her own laundry away yesterday without complaining. Hey, it's a start!