Search This Blog

Wednesday, July 18

Why are children today so unhappy?

From the UK DailyMail:

We live in one of the wealthiest, most technologically advanced nations on earth. We've had 60 years of peace and prosperity with free education and medical services for all.

Our homes are crammed with labour-saving devices and electronic entertainment that previous generations couldn't even dream of. Surely our children should be growing happier every year?

Well, no. According to figures released last month, one in ten now suffers from a clinically-recognised mental health problem, and earlier this year a UNICEF report on "childhood well-being" found that out of 21 nations across the developed world, British children are the unhappiest.

A damning survey by the National Consumer Council, reported in the Mail, revealed that children who watch too much television and spend hours on the internet are "greedy and unhappy".

(We discussed this UNICEF "report card" a few months ago:

1. Netherlands
2. Sweden
3. Denmark
4. Finland
5. Spain
6. Switzerland
7. Norway
8. Italy
9. Republic of Ireland
10. Belgium
11. Germany
12. Canada
13. Greece
14. Poland
15. Czech Republic
16. France
17. Portugal
18. Austria
19. Hungary
20. United States
21. United Kingdom

The UK is also near the top of international polls for anti-social behaviour, self-harm and eating disorders. I see the same issues facing our children in the US (we are second to last, beating out the UK). I was just discussing these problems with my kids yesterday. They were telling me that in the middle schools, they now have the guidance counselors on duty in the cafe because of the overwhelming need by parents to make sure their girls eat lunch. THIS IS THE PARENTS RESPONSIBILITY. But I do believe it "does take a village", so I'll back off on my opinion here. I do feel, however, that all this promoting of self-esteem by educators and making the kids feeeeel good about themselves is backfiring on them.

My girls ages 13 & 16, imho, are heavier than they should be. I addressed this with them last summer when I got a look at them in their bathing suites. I gotta tell you -- I WAS SHOCKED! I wouldn't consider them overweight when looking at them dressed, but to actually see the cellulite and stretch marks taking over their bodies prompted me to speak up. My sister was over and just as I was about to "discuss" the obvious dark purple huge stretch marks on the youngest, she kicked me under the table and gave me that keep your mouth shut look. She told me to choose my words carefully because so many mothers are critical of their girls bodies and that's why they develop the eating disorders they do (she's going for her masters in child development). I layed into them anyway but not in a negative way. Of course they started to blame me because of all the junk food I buy and there's never any healthy food in the house. (not true). I shot them down in record time, pointing out that there's nothing wrong with junk food in moderation. I like a side of chips with a sandwich -- a bag will last me a week. I pointed out that when they get their hands on the bag - it's gone in minutes! They had no comeback.

I spent the past year working overtime teaching the girls the fine art of self-control -- and not just with regard to eating. I did it constantly, but in a positive way. I also held my own "Marketing 101" class everyday, pointing out how TV and commercials have a huge impact on their habits. My role as a mom these past few years has more or less been spent undoing EVERYTHING they see and hear (learn) on the TV, computer, radio, etc. It's exhausting, but unfortunately necessary in today's world. They are now understanding that money and "things" don't buy you happiness. They get frustrated and a bit depressed because it seems like I say NO most of the time. They understand now that most of the SHIT they had growing up was bought on borrowed money i.e. credit cards. We finally paid all the balances off and ripped up the cards. They understand "the more you have, the more you want". I have them write out the monthly bills now from the checking account to give them a sense of reality. They don't ask for much anymore. They make their own fun and games and are having a better time doing so.

They need to play, play, play - in the street that is. They need to duke it out on the playground and they don't need mom and dad running interference. They also don't need mom and dad carting them all over town to kindergarten kickers, dance lessons, and all of the other organized activities that have taken over the simple pleasures of childhood.

I wonder if this IED (intermittent explosive disorder) has a direct relationship with lack of play in boys:

1 in 10 men believed mad enough to damage property, injure others