We Americans once prided ourselves on our commitment to freedom, our courage, and our willingness to take risks. But no longer. Children today are less free than any time in human history, with the exception of periods of slavery or intense child labor. They have little, if any, time for unsupervised, outdoor play. They lack competency in basic life skills. And they are more anxious and depressed, and have greater feelings of helplessness than their peers did during World War II and the Great Depression.
They are fragile.
How did we get to this point? More importantly, what can we do about it? There are many wonderful people thinking, writing, and working on the changes that we need to make in parenting, education, and society to raise strong, happy, and successful adults. Adults who are hardy and capable. Responsible and productive. Ready to thrive in today’s world. In a word, antifragile.
Antifragility is the ability of people (and systems) to increase in capability, resilience or robustness as a stressors, shocks, volatility, mistakes, faults, attacks, or failures. It is a concept developed by Professor Nassim Nicholas Taleb in his book, Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder.
Just as our muscles and bones grow stronger when we work them, children (and adult) minds and spirits are strengthened by risks, mistakes, and failure. Instead of coddling kids, clearing the way, helicoptering, and shielding them from all difficulty and discomfort, we must encourage them to risk, fail, fall, and grow the way they are designed to do.
Then join us. Speak out against coddling and helicoptering. And let your kids roam!