Episode-1825- Raising Resilient Children in a World Full of Wusses — 11 Comments

  1. I would say give particular attention to Kerosene, Petrol, Gas bottles, Chainsaws, Angle grinders, Wood working machinery, Horses, Guns, Water ways (especially wells and rivers), Machinery ( especially tractors), anything with spinning motors-pulleys-belts or chain. Children need a lot of reminding about certain dangers before it eventually sinks in to them, you don’t want them to learn those thing the hard way. I would say discourage motorbikes in children the risks out way the pleasure. But for rough and tumble stuff, definitely let them at it. Well that’s my philosophy,

    • I haven’t listened to this episode yet, but looking at your comment I began laughing to myself (don’t take this too seriously, I’m really just musing at my childhood) because I think we did all those things, and of course, we hurt ourselves a lot. I might be lucky to be here!

      Kerosene? Yep! Country living in tornado country and camping.

      Petrol? Yep! But being careless was a big no-no. You kind of eased into it over time. Gotta use gas for motorcycles and four-wheelers though.

      Chainsaws? No. Way to dangerous for a kid.

      Angle grinders? Never really had a need to.

      Wood working machinery? Depended, but yeah, after a lecture and with supervision

      Horses? Yep! Hurt a lot? Yep!

      Guns! Yep! From a very young age. Guns were just a part of our lives. But mishandling a gun would get you an ass-chewing and a half from my dad.

      Water ways? That’s where we camped and hung out. Hell, at 10-12 years old we’d stay at the river by ourselves for days, with guns, motorcycles, and kerosene lanterns!

      So yeah, things have changed A LOT! Not so much for country kids though – it’s still the same in many ways.

      Exposure matters. We were exposed to these things over time and if you could prove that you could handle it then you got to do more stuff. Learned to drive by driving the hay truck and could barely reach the pedals.

      Like I said, I’m not challenging your comments, but it made me stop and think about just how much is different now.

      • Yep I grew up similar to yourself, my father was a farmer, I was stearing a tractor at six years old traveling at walking pace while while those older than me threw bales of hay on the trailer, my Da used to jump onto the tractor as it was moving to turn it around at the end of the field, one slip and he was dead, later I learned to press the clutch lever by standing up. I was sawing logs with a chainsaw at 10 years old, climbing up a 30 foot ladder onto a hay barn loft several times a day at 8 year old carrying up bags of barley. Thing was I didn’t have much choice about it, that was the culture in the farming communities then, back then the children had to work like adults for economic reasons. It was like the Waltons but with time and money pressure. Families had between 5 and 10 children and expected to loose one either at child birth or from a farm accident or misadventure. I had several near misses, one with a bull which threw me into a pond, I remember being terified of the chainsaw, another narrow escape playing with petrol on my own at about 8 years old in a tiny garden shed with the door tied closed from the inside to keep out the hens. I didn’t know that petrol could jump from a candle to a full plastic gallon can via the vapour over a foot distance. Those who survived that type of working childhood turned out hardy and many done well in life with a strong work ethos. But many young lads in my area were killed of motorbikes as teenagers or young adults others had various accidents such as turning over tractors with no safety cabs. It was a different time. I think of it as reverse Darwinism, most old species of plant or animal had just one ofspring or seed per year and invested a lot of time protecting it, whereas later species evolved which have more numerous seeds or offspring and only small percentage need to germinate or survive to carry on the species, well humans are sort of evolving backwards.

  2. I totally agree Jack. I was raised in the 60’s where I played outside all day, received bruises, did not whine when I did not get my way. There was five of us to squash that notion. Learned, read and self taught myself through middle, high school, and college. Learned a new trade while getting a degree in another, and have survived and learned from my mistakes.

    I looked up your resilent children on the web and I found this huffington post article similar to yours but greatly changed to the PC version. Thought you would be interested.
    Here are 10 things that loving parents and other adult role models can do to foster resilient children who become resilient adults:

    Let children experience adversity, real or contrived. A child who is caringly supported through, but not shielded from, news of natural disasters or war, deaths or illnesses of loved ones, parental divorce or job loss, and so on become stronger children (and adults) who are more empathetic to others facing similar stressors. Children who have the good fortune of escaping trauma during their childhoods need #2 below even more than those for whom life has provided sufficient challenges in the formative years.

    Allow age-appropriate “micro-failures.” Wendy Mogel, author of “The Blessing of a Skinned Knee” and “The Blessing of a B-,” warns against succumbing to Lake Wobegon parenting where all the children are above average. Parents must be willing to let their children fall and pick themselves up. Making mistakes while young is essential to a child’s ability to overcome larger adversities later in life, and parents must resist the urge to intervene and rescue. Skinned knees and B-minuses are character building!

    Participate sparingly in the “Congratulatory Culture.” It can rob children of the ability to appreciate a job well done. When children are glowingly affirmed for everything they do — usually out of adult fear that the child will have low self-esteem — they are deprived of authentic feedback and become cynical, mistrustful of effusive adults, and doubtful about their abilities. In other words, excessive A-pluses, blue ribbons and hyperbolic praise usually backfire.

    Model comfort with mild anxiety. Let kids solve their own problems when adult intervention is not truly needed. Put children in situations where they need to be flexible, to explore, to structure their own time, to socialize without supervision, to be out of their comfort zone. For example, let a city child walk in the woods with a friend in the country. Bear attacks are exceedingly rare, but projected parental anxiety is exceedingly common and harmful.

    Do not overindulge. It is OK for kids not to have everything they want or everything their friends have, and to have to earn some of the material things they desire or the privileges they seek. It is OK for kids to have to wait or to prove that they are responsible.

    Love your children unconditionally. It’s become a platitude, and unfortunately that undermines a very important message: Parents must love who their children are, not what their children are and do. They must love them even if they make a B-minus, even if they do not make the travel team (and schmoozing/threatening the coach is forbidden). Parents of course still love their children, even when they do not keep up with the Joneses’ children, but kids often mistake parental competitiveness and disappointment for lack of love.

    Cede control when reasonable. Let children, in an age-appropriate fashion, have as much power, as many choices and as many opportunities to succeed or fail as possible — without worry that parents will disapprove, swoop in or take the control back.

    Teach children to be independent but to seek help when needed, and to understand that these are not mutually exclusive. Kids who feel empowered to be agents of their own destiny, but to ask for help along the way as needed, are operating from a position of strength and confidence. The latter without the former leads to weakness, while the former without the latter leads to folly.

    Help your children develop at least one talent. While the differences between kids who have one, two, three or more areas of interest and accomplishment are negligible, the difference between kids with one talent and none are significant. Adults should open as many doors as possible for kids to explore interests when they are young, and to proactively nurture at least one athletic, artistic, academic or other area of talent that the child can be proud of as he or she grows up.

    Teach and model social justice. Show children how to stand up for themselves and others, how to be empathetic, how to carry out thoughtful acts for others, and how to integrate acts of service into daily life, throughout life. This is both formative to developing resilience, and a positive outcome to doing so. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you seek in the world.” If the key adults in kids’ lives live this way, the kids will be more likely to follow suit.

  3. I’ve been reading a book titled, “Teen 2.0”. It basically says that the concept of a teenager (and the modern culture that goes with it) is a made up phenomenon, and a dangerous one at that because it invokes dependency and infantilization. In reality, young people are capable thinkers who are tough, creative, can handle responsibility and can love. Society won’t change how they treat children, but we can in our homes.

  4. Along these same lines, I listen to a podcast called The Eastern Border. The host grew up in Latvia, and reflects on life as it was during the days of the Soviet Union.

    In one episode, he discusses what life was like for kids in the USSR during that time, and it is a real eye opener. Many of the things you discussed were promoted by the government to encourage a self reliant attitude, but also to establish skills they knew would be necessary in the future.

    The part where he discusses what they did for fun, outside of the organized activities is fascinating, and goes hand in hand with this episode’s content. Well worth the listen!

    The host would make an excellent guest as well.

  5. I spent the day yesterday with my 70 year old dad and thanked him for rasing a man not a wuss. He appeciated that very much because my parents had there fair share of issues like everyone else. I have a brother in law who is 47 three years younger then me and can’t do a dam thing Ughh. Oh well all I can do is say thanks Jack for introducing me to Permaculture 6 years ago in changed my world.

  6. I agree with your opinion that the time affects traits in a generation. I observe that my parents and their generation are more resilient than my generation, as they had been through a fiercely war, they had to suffer from hunger and disease, lack of everything and they learnt to start all over from scratch. My generation was born and raised in peace. So I feel like I can never be as strong as my parents.

    • I don’t think one need be raised in time of war to be strong, or even time of hardship, one simply need not be insulated from reality.