55 pages 1 hour read

Greg Lukianoff, Jonathan Haidt

The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas are Setting Up a Generation for Failure

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 2018

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Part 4-Appendix 2Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Part 4: “Wising Up”

Part 4, Chapter 12 Summary: “Wiser Kids”

Six general principles can guide parents toward raising children with healthier attitudes toward life and its risks. The first principle—“Prepare the child for the road, not the road for the child”—indicates that “kids need some unstructured, unsupervised time in order to learn how to judge risks for themselves and practice dealing with things like frustration, boredom, and interpersonal conflict” (237). Free play outdoors with other kids helps children to learn social skills and become antifragile.

To help children grow in this way, parents can: assume their kids are getting more capable; let them take small risks; permit them as soon as possible to walk or bicycle to school; help them find a neighborhood community of kids to play with; send them to an overnight camp in the woods; and help them learn how to have a “productive disagreement” (240). Parents can get more information at LetGrow.org and through Lenore Skenazy’s Free-Range Kids movement (238).

The second principle states: “Your worst enemy cannot harm you as much as your own thoughts, unguarded” (241). People, including children, sometimes exaggerate the negative aspects of problems they face. Parents can help by teaching their kids the basics of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and by teaching them mindfulness, or “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally” (242).