Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Raising kids to deal with frustration

Interesting article by Lori Gottlieb about the neuroses of children with overly involved parents. Frustration and failure is a natural part of growing up, and parents who shield their kids from these negative feelings inhibit their children's abilities to deal with them later.

“'Happiness as a byproduct of living your life is a great thing,' Barry Schwartz, a professor of social theory at Swarthmore College, told me. 'But happiness as a goal is a recipe for disaster.' It’s precisely this goal, though, that many modern parents focus on obsessively—only to see it backfire. Observing this phenomenon, my colleagues and I began to wonder: Could it be that by protecting our kids from unhappiness as children, we’re depriving them of happiness as adults?"

Teaching offspring how to deal with negative feelings apparently occurs in other species as well, not just humans --- perhaps implying that modern parents' attention to happiness is even more maladaptive. I've read that mother cats will deny their kittens the chance to nurse or stop their kittens from nursing before the kittens are done to accustom their kittens to frustration, and kittens who didn't have this experience will grow up to be cats who get frustrated more easily (sharp exhales when something goes wrong.) Apparently, this inability to deal with frustration happens more with cats who grow up without mothers to teach them how to deal with negative emotions; I don't know whether there are overly indulgent mother cats.

This phenomenon of overly attentive parents coincides with the advent of emerging adulthood. Simultaneously, the research finds emerging adulthood is often positive with, for example, better marriage outcomes among those who waited to marry.

No comments: