Remove the Bubble Wrap and Prepare More Adventures

Jay M. Greenfeld, Ph.D., C.Psych.,

Parenting styles have shifted significantly in recent years. We have access to more information, others are able to share more information, and all of this is done at lightning speeds. It has become a very strong reality that the trend has been lending itself to parents taking a softer approach when child rearing; giving their children more leeway and removing much of the responsibility from the children to caregivers, coaches, teachers, and parents. Therefore, as parents, the trend over the last decade or so has shifted toward not wanting our children to engage in any risk taking, and not exposing them to enough adventure. Instead the approach has focused on often over protecting our children, keeping them safe and doing simple things because we do not want anything to happen to them. Anyone reading this article is a caring, nurturing, and devoted parent. You would not be reading this paper seeking more ways to help your child out if you were not that committed parent.

Unfortunately, what has unfolded is that many parents out there are not wanting their children to take risks, engage in adventurous behaviours, and activities that are not simple and safe as a way of protecting children to keep them safe all the time. Yet, despite the intention and best efforts, it is often those same parents that have their children using a lot of their free time on screens. Too many parents are putting forth their best effort to protect their children from the potential dangers or adventures, independence, and responsibility for their actions. Instead of the adventures they are relying on the use of their screens for more than 45 minutes per day during the week, which is inadvertently rewiring their neurological pathways to struggle with sustaining attention for longer periods. In turn this is causing a pattern of mood dysregulation, more irritability, less patience, higher levels of Anxiety when they cannot control their outcomes and creating demanding personality styles. These patterns of less creativity and adventure and more screens is making it extremely difficult for our children to concentrate for longer periods of time because their brains have come accustomed to everything moving too quickly and instantly.

To help maximize our efforts as parents for the explosive technological world we are living in, any screen time needs to be limited to a maximum of one hour per day (yes, I said it, outright) so that our children can use the remaining 15 hours of their wakeful moments stimulating many other aspects of their brain. That may mean creating more ideas as parents (see this entire newspaper for ideas), stepping back to realize that our best efforts to bubble wrap our children is not preparing them for the world, it is instead preparing them for not knowing how to cope in our world. The key as a parent is to learn to let our children fail, let them fall, and let them learn how to stand up rather that sit on the couch with a game console in their hand.


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