Eva Millet

Journalist and writer 

"Education is also character: children have to be allowed to do things for themselves"

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As parents our mission is to protect our children and help them to grow as people. But today, that natural protection from parenting in the inclusive sense has been confused with hyper-protection. Parents are being made to believe that in order to perform their role well, they must ensure that their children never get upset, experience a contradiction or have to deal with frustration. This means that, to be a good parent, you more or less have to be your child's bodyguard. As a result, your child become untouchable.

Education means letting your child find their own way by giving them tools so they can start to become more aware, grow and gain autonomy. If you're hovering around your child all day, trying to protect them from everything that might happen, you are not only making them anxious, you are stifling them. You are taking away from them a basic tool of life: acquiring autonomy. This means that, by overprotecting them you're failing to protect them properly.

We must always pay attention to children, but not intervene at the first opportunity. If your child falls over in the park, don't run to their rescue like Usain Bolt because all you're doing is preventing your child from learning how to get up themselves. As a parent, your job is to observe and take notice, but also to let your child develop of their own accord.

Low tolerance to frustration is one of the characteristics of hyper-children. Hyper-children are the result of hyper-parenting. This way of bringing up children, often employed by the upper and middle classes, is popular in the west and involves hyper-attention, hyper-protection and being overly concerned about your child. You might say that it's a monstrously intensive way to bring up a child. The product of hyper-parenting is a hyper-child who is unable to deal well with frustration.

"There is talk of low tolerance of frustration as if it were a chronic illness, but we have to learn how to manage it."

Parents who raise their children this way think they have to tell them how amazing they are and never say no to them so they can learn to deal with their emotions and develop great self-esteem. But then are not raising a child with self-esteem, but a narcissistic child. Good management of emotions means know your positive and negative emotions, as well as those of others. Another way to help your child deal with frustration is to offer alternatives.

Children need to play, but this model of hyper-parenting produces a glut of children with afternoons packed full of extra-curricular activities, where everything is planned and structured... The hyper model is crowding out children's play time, which is a right recognized by the United Nations, which any half-decent educator would tell you is the essence of childhood. By playing in a free and unstructured way, either alone or with others, children learn how to work in a team, to be creative and how to deal with frustration.

Education also means helping your child to develop their character. You need to raise your child to have the character to put that knowledge into practice. Educating our children about bravery. By overprotecting their children, parents are failing to help them deal with their anxieties and as a result, children are very fearful nowadays. We need to teach courage, empathy and resilience, and we need to start letting our children do things for themselves. Not big things, just little things, like packing their own school bag.

Excessive attention on children is doing things for them that they are perfectly capable of doing themselves. And the best example I can give is homework. Nowadays, helping your child with their homework is considered normal and the sign of a good parent. In fact, some say that doing homework together has even replaced the act of eating together as a time to gather as a family. However, by doing this, you're doing your child's homework for them.

Limits are not about saying no to your child all the time. A limit would be not to allow a teenager to keep their cell phone in their room when they go to bed because electronic devices are not conducive to sleep. Learning to deal with limits helps children discover how to cope with frustration.

Journalist and writer specializing in education and parenting. Ms. Millet is the author of the books "Hyper-parenting" and "Hyper-children". She warns against extreme overprotection, which is creating a generation of young people who are anxious, dependent and with a low tolerance to frustration, and offers ways to combat this phenomenon. For example, she says that we should trust our children and help them to develop their character.