Behold the wholly sanitized childhood, without skinned knees or the occasional C in history. “Kids need to feel badly sometimes,” says child psychologist David Elkind, professor at Tufts University. “We learn through experience and we learn through bad experiences. Through failure we learn how to cope.”
Messing up, however, even in the playground, is wildly out of style. Although error and experimentation are the true mothers of success, parents are taking pains to remove failure from the equation.
“Life is planned out for us,” says Elise Kramer, a Cornell University junior. “But we don’t know what to want.” As Elkind puts it, “Parents and schools are no longer geared toward child development, they’re geared to academic achievement.”
Actually, the upshot of all this is that we are creating new generations of permanently infantilized “adults” – who will move from their swaddling clothes to their swaddling mothers to their swaddling educators, and finally into the hands of swaddling Big Brother, Big Sister, Big Daddy, Big Mommey.
Raise a kid to feel small and helpless, and you’ll have a stunted, gutless dwarf for an adult.