Kids need to learn street smarts

I don’t think high school seniors are equipped to handle the pressures and temptations inherent at spring break sites like Ft. Lauderdale beach. I say this in part because we have done a poor job of teaching the current generation street smarts.foam dance-3-PS'd

When my generation was growing up, the world was our playground. We were able to leave the house in the morning and not be expected to return until dinner. We rode our bikes for miles away from home, exploring woods, hiking up creeks, competing against kids from other neighborhoods in unsupervised hockey and baseball games, and in general terrorizing whatever lay before us. We had unbridled freedom, and it felt good.

Besides the fun, we learned invaluable life lessons out there in the world. We created our own fun, took care of ourselves and our friends, solved our own squabbles on the sports fields, made decisions and immediately experienced the consequences of our actions, learned to lead and follow, took risks and learned our limits, initiated and made things happen, and challenged ourselves out in the real world. Self-confidence and self-efficacy resulted from these experiences.

Present-day kids are overprotected and spend inordinate amounts of time in supervised activities, robbing them of such proficiencies. Our exaggerated fears about abductions have caused most kids to never be untethered from their parents. When they leave the nest at age 18, they too often are ill prepared to manage the challenges that come their way. Young adults have a hard time problem solving, taking initiative, taking risks, and handling the normal ups and downs of life because they never had to; mom and dad rushed in to fix their problems and ensure that they didn’t fall or fail.

There are a number of other reasons why I wouldn’t advise sending high school seniors off to spring break without a chaperon, including not being developmentally ready for that kind of environment. Beyond spring break, we owe it to our kids to allow them to have more independence and unsupervised times so that they can develop the skills and horse sense required out in the world.

We need to put more value in street smarts.


1 thought on “Kids need to learn street smarts”

  1. Dr. Tim – so true. I’m reminded of a neighborhood meeting I attended where the discussion was fairly intense about making sure a new housing construction site was properly fenced. Fenced so none of the neighborhood kids could get in and get hurt. I sat there listening and then just couldn’t contain myself any longer. Once recognized I simply stated, “When I was a kid the construction site was our playground.” Things certainly have changed. I do have a question though – what could a parent do as an alternative to “allowing” their child to attend Spring break? How would you go about keeping it from being a battle?

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