Ask Dr. Jean: Question on Parents Sheltering Kids


(Arti Freeman) #1

Dear Dr. Jean,

How much do we, as parents, shelter our kids’ from negative experiences while still allowing space for them to learn important life lessons? An example that is encouraging dialogue is the lack of score keeping in youth sports.

Mark (Parent / Caregiver)

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(Dr. Jean Clinton) #2

Dear Mark,

I echo your concern that in too many cases we are overprotecting our children from valuable life experiences. The way we learn to deal with failure and mistakes is by examining them in the safety of loving, nurturing relationships. Michael Ungar has written a book and raised these concerns in “Too Safe for Their Own Good”. Our children need experiences to develop their brain connections and if we are severely limiting all negative emotional experiences because we have fallen into the ‘happiness trap’, i.e.: we are good parents only to the degree that our children are happy, then we are limiting their development. I worry that trends such as this are contributing to the increase in child and youth anxiety. That children are not getting the opportunities to experience distress and resolution and repair.

We need to keep in mind that our children need us to Be Firm, Be Fair and Be Kind. As Barbara Coloroso says ‘Mean what you say, say what you mean, and do what you said you were going to do.’

(MDuiker) #3

@DrJeanforKids Thank you for your thoughtful response.

Are you aware of any compelling studies that support the “happiness trap” approach that seems to be broadly applied to our children’s lives during and after school or is it simply a widely adopted, popular idea?

(Arti Freeman) #4

Hi Mark,

We will add your question to the next Ask Dr. Jean segment. Watch for it on October 23.


(Dr. Jean Clinton) #5

@MDuiker, thank you for the great follow-up!

Look out for my response on the next round of Ask Dr Jean on October 23!

(Dr. Jean Clinton) #6

Hi Mark,

Just letting you know that I’ve answered your follow-up question here: Ask Dr. Jean: The Happiness Trap