Friday, March 28, 2014

Overprotected Kids: Need for Risk Taking and Self Discovery

Overprotected Kids: Need for Risk Taking and Self Discovery

Risk taking used to be part of the every day growing up experience of every child. With our over-protection and over-carefulness we are throttling the innovation, creativity and liveliness of our children. Risk taking and suspense used to make kids mentally strong and develop an ability to work under stress and pressure. Exploring new places, new situations that were often fraught with danger, were actually a preparation to cope with the uncertainties in life. This may very well be one of the reason of the psychological issues confronting many kids and youths today.


This problem of over-protection and over-monitoring is further compounded in the current Pakistani environment due to law and order situation which has created issues of security and safety due to street crimes, organized crimes, gang wars, target killings and protection rings run by mafias. The situation becomes more complex due to the land mafias that have encroached upon most of the empty spaces, green belts, play grounds, schools and hospital amenity plots. The population unable to grow horizontally towards the suburbs has become concentrated in selected city areas where vertical growth has increased the density beyond the healthy levels with the high rise appartment complexes constructed without any environmental and social considerations. This has further constricted the available places for children to go outside, explore nature and play field games. Imprisoned in these appartment complexes with no privacy or open spaces, the children are often also constricted and constrained to remain indoors due to religious considerations for segregation.

These pressures are in addition to the commercial competitions of schools that have robbed the children of their time for independent exploration and reflection. A child is now considered a "resource" for the international capitalist enterprise, where "its" success is measured in terms of its ability to become a cog in the capitalist machinery by becoming a productive (earning) member. The objective of education is no more critical and higher order thinking and opening of minds towards holistic knowledge. The objective of education is to convert a kid into a "human resource" similar in kind to the land, building, or machinery that a business uses. To ensure this, all of "its" (child's) time should be utilized in making it suitable for the capitalist enterprise. Hence, the child must start going to school at a very early age of even 1.5 or 1.7 years, and then to a pre-school, and then to a school. School extends its reach beyond its boundaries to the homes of the children through a device known as "home-work". Returning home from school, the child is burdened with a lot of homework to keep "it" busy under the supervision of tutors, preferably, and of course some "molvi sahab" for the religiously inclined. For the remaining time, the child needs to be imprisoned in "its" room with an X-box or a PlayStation, providing false thrill from killing of the people for fun or watching people killed enmasse in cartoons and other thrilling programs on TV; providing convincing brainwashing experience that reduces the "human-ness" of the man and reinforces the "resource-ness" attributes of the man such as dispensable, depreciate-able, obsolete-able, and replaceable. There must be constant supervision, and monitoring and surveillance, lest some kids may inter-mingle with others and develop ideas of their own. The value addition of a kid as "it" moves through the assembly line progressing from one grade to another must be monitored and quality assured through periodic testing.

Any "faulty" kid not meeting the specification of a given assembly line (such as that of an elitist school) needs to be ejected from the assembly line. It is then made a "by-product" that can be used as a "resource" in other alternative assembly lines such as the peelay schools or vocational schools or some trade. A kid who reconciles itself to "its resource-ness" is considered a successful student, because it has become a pliant "human resource", adjustable to the transitory requirements for any or all business assembly lines.

A kid who refuses to sacrifice "his" human-ness at the altar of "resource-ness" is either "diagnosed" as ADHD or is classified as learning disabled among several psychological sounding categories and put on drugs (that in turn provides justification for the running of the pharma assembly lines).

The world has therefore become surveillance obsessed as theorized by Foucault's panopticism, and fictionalized by the classics such as Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World" and George Orwell's "Nineteen Eighty-Four" and "Animal Farm". This has created conditions and imperatives that justify mechanisms for over-protection, over-monitoring, and over-surveillance.

There are thus experts and organizations that are emphasizing increased interaction of a child with the natural environment and natural processes of learning, self-discovery, holistic learning and reflection. These are developed through opportunities for exploration, adventure and making mistakes and then learning from them. There are various alternatives such as the following:
  • A preoccupation with safety has stripped childhood of independence, risk taking, and discovery—without making it safer. A new kind of playground points to a better solution. See the The Overprotected Kid
  • Gever Tulley: Life lessons through tinkeringGever Tulley uses engaging photos and footage to demonstrate the valuable lessons kids learn at his Tinkering School. When given tools, materials and guidance, these young imaginations run wild and creative problem-solving takes over to build unique boats, bridges and even a roller coaster!







2 comments:

  1. Thank you so much, Irfan uncle for this article. For the new generation, (my generation), it is such a struggle to imagine raising our future, unborn children in a world calculated by accounting sheets, number of handheld gadgets at the tender age of toddlers and the income/socioeconomic status of parents and fellow students' parents. Some have even resorted to being childless just because it will be easier and less of a hassle to bring their kids in a world focused on competition rather than collaboration. So, thank you for this. I look forward to reading more from you about parenting in this difficult world that we live in, inshaAllah.

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    1. The solution is simplicity in our lives and aspirations: Earn to live, not live to earn! Ignore the peer pressures for "keeping up with the joneses"

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