Finally someone of note, Tanya Byron, a leading clinical psychologist has said what we at Girls Out Loud have been talking about for years ‘Risk-averse parents are damaging children.’
Byron is referring, in the main, to middle class parents who through a combination of pressure and protection create an environment of ‘no failure here please’ which in turn, results in anxiety attacks, lack of emotional resilience and a play it safe mentality.
I have seen this behaviour manifest in many academically bright, teenage girls from good families, in good schools. They are in a permanent state of fear and worry about whether they are good enough, overly concerned about letting parents/teachers down as they know for sure they must deliver excellent exam results and get in to the best university, at a time when university is not necessarily ‘one size fits all’.
One 17 year old girl I spoke to recently was explaining how terrified she was of taking her driving test for fear of failing! Another one talked about how sad she was that music was her passion but she had to drop it as one of her subjects as she only achieved a B+ in her mocks and this was deemed unacceptable.
You don’t have to be a professional to know this is not healthy. Whilst we don’t want our children to fail, failing is often the best lesson, and a very powerful one at that. It is the only way to build emotional resilience as failing forces you to reflect, review and change.
Byron goes on to say the risk averse, litigious culture we are living in does nothing to help our children assess the dangers and risk of any given situation. I agree. I think we wrap them up in so much cotton wool they struggle to breath. Children no longer ‘play out’, create adventures or ride their bikes.
‘Into the house children, there’s a gentle breeze on the way!’ Pugh
Our education system is driven by targets and testing and this does not help neither. In reality this stops teachers being innovative or nurturing creativity in our children.
We need to rethink this and rethink it fast, we are seeing more and more teenagers in crisis, with mental health issues, anxiety disorders and in general sad and confused. 12 A* GCSE’s is NOT going to matter if they have so little confidence or belief in themselves they can barely leave the house!