by Bob Livingstone LCSW
I am a psychotherapist and have been treating children, adolescents and adults in the San Francisco and San Mateo areas for the past twenty years. Overplaying fear is the phenomenon that forces parents to limit their children’s freedom in order to keep them out of harm’s way. The reality is that children have less chance of being kidnapped by strangers than being hit by a strike of lightening. I have witnessed parents spending an amazing amount of energy into the goal of keeping their kids safe from being abducted. These parents are all highly intelligent and do have the best interest of their children at heart. However, they are highly influenced by the 24-hour cable news stories about the latest murders or kidnappings. We are all influenced by this onslaught of fear.
Here are some of the side effects of this hypervigilance:
- Children are forbidden from taking public transportation and are driven everywhere by their parents. This seems to flush out our children’s natural desire to explore the world around them. This also gives them a sense of entitlement; that they deserve to be chauffeured by their parents whenever the need arises.
- Children are not allowed to walk anywhere. Therefore, they do not develop a sense of direction or an understanding of local geography. It is not unusual for children who are in their early to mid-teens not to have any idea of what route they traveled to my office. They aren’t expected to observe the world around them. They don’t walk anywhere by themselves so they have no idea of what to do in an emergency or if they get lost. In other words, we are not teaching them survival skills.
- Children don’t see other kids outside of school unless they meet at a pre-arranged sports activity or their parents set up play dates for them. This whole process interferes with children’s learning of basic social skills such as reaching out to others and making small talk.
- All of the previously mentioned items make our children totally reliant on adults and doesn’t teach them about independence. Therefore children do not learn to value being on their own and become content with being dependent on their parents for everything.
I will be expounding on all these issues and talking about solutions to them in future posts. What do you think?
Bob Livingstone LCSW
The Body Mind Soul Solution: Healing Emotional Pain through Exercise – Now available at www.boblivingstone.com