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Michelle Gottlieb Psy.D., MFT, LPCC
Individual, Couple and Family Therapy
Resolving issues from your past that block your future

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Let Kids be Kids

September 2007

There is a new TV show called ” Kid Nation” starting soon. I have not seen it yet. The basic premise is that children age 8-15 are sent to an isolated area to create their own society.

Now, William Golding explored the horrific possibilities in “The Lord of the Flies”, for those of you who remember your literature classes. My assumption is that is not what happened in the television show or many people would be arrested.

But many people are up in arms about this show, with one of the least damning accusations is that the producers should be arrested for violation of child labor laws. Not having seen the show, I cannot speak with any amount of expertise. So, I am just going to go off my instincts.

Our children today are over-protected. They are not allowed to get on their bikes and just ride. They are not allowed to hang out with friends without checking in often on the cell phones. Our children are spoiled. They have not one, but several gaming systems. They have TV’s, computers, the ubiquitous cell phones, every new toy that comes out! We allow our children to run the family. We are not doing our kids any favors.

On the other hand, abandoning them in the middle of a desert may be an extreme answer to the travails of parenting, but we do need our kids to learn how to play and not always be entertained. We do need to teach our children, and ourselves, how to deal with delay of gratification. We do need to give our children room to make mistakes and learn from them. If we always protect our children, they never learn how to fail and how to pick themselves up from that.

There is a new book out, “Dangerous Book for Boys”, that purports to teach boys all the skills that they are no longer able to learn, like how to build a tree house and skim a stone. I love the idea of this book. Let’s allow our children the chance to explore. We do need to set up appropriate boundaries. They cannot explore on the freeways! We do need to set up safe limits. But let our kids learn that they can fail and it will not kill them. In fact, it will make them better adults.

Enjoy the journey, and let your kids do the same.

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