The ABCs of Creating Fragile Children

The ABCs of Creating Fragile Children

Written by David Seibel | 9.18.2019

With the abundance of voices speaking on the topic of parenting, you would think that today’s children would be flourishing. While the quality of life and the number of opportunities is increasing, so are the rates of depression and anxiety. Despite all the advances in American society, it is clear that children are much more fragile than they used to be. In this post, I want to share the ABCs of how to create fragile children. If you desire to have a child who is only happy when things go his or her way, then this is the post for you.

I drew much of this post from counselor Keith McCurdy and his podcast Basecamp Live. President of Total Life Counseling, Keith McCurdy has worked with families, children, parents, and individuals for more than 25 years in the field of mental health. He has logged more than 75,000 clinical hours of experience. For more context to this post, you may want to listen to the following episodes of his podcast:

The fastest way to get a child to repeat behaviors is to reward them for their behavior.

“The fastest way to get a child to repeat behaviors is to reward them for their behavior.”

A: Always Avoid Difficulty

The fastest way to make your child a first-rate pansy — a delicate flower that lacks resilience to elements— is to effectively remove difficulties for him. When a two-year-old cries, it is probably because they need changed, fed, or held. When a ten year old cries, it is probably because they did not get what they want.

The fastest way to get a child to repeat behaviors like whining, complaining and making excuses is to reward them for their behavior. For example, if a child cries because they are asked to take the trash out, and then the parent takes away the chore, the child thinks, “When I cry, I don’t have to do chores. Crying is more pleasant than doing chores, so I will cry when asked to do chores.”

The best way to catalyze this process of becoming fragile for your child is to blame other adults for their failures while they are young. If you train them early to blame others and always see the world as ‘against them,’ they will be sure to wilt and wither when any amount of pressure comes to them. A good action step is to speak disparagingly about other adults in front of them so you can train them in the best practices of shirking responsibility.

“When trouble arises, not emphasizing a child’s responsibility to make good choices leaves no room to grow and improve.”

“When trouble arises, not emphasizing a child’s responsibility to make good choices leaves no room to grow and improve.”

B: Believe They Always Need Your Help

Another shortcut to pansy-hood for children is to solve their problems for them as quickly as possible. George Bush made famous the phrase “the soft bigotry of low expectations,” which describes a mindset that children cannot achieve and overcome challenges. Although it often comes from a heart that wants to serve, this type of help can hurt. Children will make sure you leave your low bar there and will learn to think poorly of their God-given skills.

A good example of this is the calculator. Many well-meaning educators hand their students calculators too soon. In doing so, students depend upon that crutch rather than developing their computing skills. Sometimes crutches can cause limps rather than alleviate them. In a great irony, the tool becomes the master.

The more widgets and gadgets that you can hand your kid to deal with his difficulties, the better your chances are that he will be made of glass by middle school. Consistently advocating for him when trouble arises and not emphasizing his responsibility to make good choices leaves no room to grow and improve. When you create unhealthy parent-child dependency, your child is well on his way to becoming a marshmallow. 

“Disciple children in the ways of bitterness from an early age, and their hearts will be glacially frozen by 4th grade.”

“Disciple children in the ways of bitterness from an early age, and their hearts will be glacially frozen by 4th grade.”

C: Complain in Front of Them

The apple does not fall far from the tree. Parenting starts with the parents, after all. So if you want your child to melt like a chocolate Easter bunny when life turns up the heat, regularly vent your frustrations about your circumstances and other people in front of the kids. Disciple them in the ways of bitterness from an early age, and their hearts will be glacially frozen by the time their in fourth grade. 

If you can plant seeds of discontentment early, you don’t even need to water them. They will nurture themselves in the bitterness. The more you complain in front of kids, the higher chance you have of increasing their cortisol, the brain’s stress hormone. If you can get a thick lather of this cortisol daily engulfing the meat between their ears, you will train them well in being overwhelmed. In fact, you can even teach them to negatively interpret all events and people by regularly speaking in such a way that the ‘complaining chemicals’ start sloshing around.      

A Note of Encouragement

The reality is that there are two types of parents: those who think they can do no wrong, and those who think they can do nothing right. The good news is that both are wrong. In reality, you only need to get a few things right. 

 

As Head of School at Coram Deo Academy, Dave Seibel aims to cultivate a generation of scholar-disciples who are passionate about learning. He is husband to Brooke and father of four future Coram Deo students. He is a graduate of Wabash College, Marian University and in final Master of Divinity course at Southern Seminary.

As Head of School at Coram Deo Academy, Dave Seibel aims to cultivate a generation of scholar-disciples who are passionate about learning. He is husband to Brooke and father of four future Coram Deo students. He is a graduate of Wabash College, Marian University and in final Master of Divinity course at Southern Seminary.

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