Parents falling into ‘mollycoddling’ trap

TVNZ Oct 19 2008

A visiting British childcare expert says caring Kiwi parents are falling into the trap of creating ‘cotton wool kids’; warning parents that they maybe projecting their own fears onto the children. Childhood consultant Tim Gill says while it’s important to keep children safe, New Zealand children may be missing out on vital life skills because of society’s overprotective nature. “If we’re constantly telling kids you can’t do that it’s too dangerous or you can’t talk to strangers or everybody out there is trying to get you, well then it’s no surprise that kids are increasingly growing up anxious and afraid,” says Gill.

…Gill says supervising our kids too closely actually does them more harm than good because they don’t learn to make decisions on their own. “Yes being ready to step in if you really need to but the first question we should be asking is – can I let the child learn how to deal with this themselves?” He says society needs to move towards a resilience approach, and that children need to learn to help themselves and learn to bounce back from the  unexpected. Adding that otherwise, there is a danger children will grow up not knowing how to deal with common social situations. Gill, whose book No Fear: Growing Up In A Risk-Averse Society, was well-received in the early childhood field, says anxiety about what can be dangerous to children is one of the key aspects of the ‘mollycoddling’.