The Fragile Generation

Bad policy and paranoid parenting are making kids too safe to succeed.

By: Lenore Skenazy and Jonathan Haidt

In: Reason, December 2017


  • Key claim: kids are over-protected and under-prepared.
    • We raise kids unaccustomed to facing anything on their own, including risk, failure, and hurt feelings.
    • Kids develop less (emotional and physical) resiliency.
  • The typical (developed world) childhood has changed.
    • Shifts in parenting norms, new academic expectations, increased regulation, technological advances, and heightened parental fears.
  • Over-protection of kids is the norm.
    • Leads to more fragile, sensitive and dependent kids.
  • Causes moral dependency …
    • Kids seek out authority figures to help them solve their problems and to shield them from discomfort.
  • … and less flexibility and open-mindedness.
    • Hyper-sensitive kids.
  • Driven by parents’ excessive fears.
    • Underlying belief: anytime kids are doing anything on their own, they are automatically under threat.
    • The world probably has gotten safer.
  • Kids need to learn by doing.
    • Physically, but also mentally.
    • Need to experience failure and realize you can survive it.
    • Need to develop emotional resilience.
  • Kids need free play.
    • Children decide what to do and how to do it.
    • Training for adulthood
    • Learn to make friends, overcome fears, solve problems and generally take control.
  • Promote development of intellectual, physical, and emotional resilience.

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