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by Sara Solovitch
Madeline Levine, a Bay Area psychologist and author of Teach Your Children Well: Parenting for Authentic Success (HarperCollins 2012), discusses the markers of teen anxiety (high rates of depression, eating disorders, substance abuse, self-cutting and suicide rates) and what to do about these dilemmas. As Levine says, though SAT scores are important, our real focus in parenting is to turn out “robust kids” who will grow up to find meaningful work and loving relationships.
She spoke to Bay Area Parent by phone from her home in Marin County.
Everywhere I go, people are convinced they can’t let their children out to play because the world is so dangerous – when, in fact, violence is way down. But no one believes me.
The Atlantic had a story a couple months ago about data driven parenting. There’s a phone app you can download for your baby’s IO. Input output. Everything your child drinks, every drop he pees, every time she moves. It’s the craziest thing I’ve ever seen.
It sets the stage from day one that you have to be constantly vigilant about everything. There is interesting research that shows that non-interference is actually healthy.
If your child falls down, you don’t have to rush over and ask if they’re okay. If she leaves her homework on the kitchen table, you don’t need to bring it up to school for her.
These are natural consequences and are opportunities for kids to learn.
These kinds of toys are at best useless and at worst damaging.
They take away from unstructured play, which is the foundation of all learning, the foundation for a sense of self.
There is a much greater awareness now [then when my first book came out in 2006 : The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage Are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids] that too many kids are not thriving. One in four kids has depression; one in four kids has anxiety.
A lot of parents are acting like home designers – making sure everything looks good on the surface, like the curtains and countertops. Instead they should be more like construction workers, thinking about the foundation.
Sara Solovitch is an associate editor of Bay Area Parent.
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