Reading Review: Let Kids Be Kids

Under Pressure by Carl Honore

From overprotectiveness to buying to many gifts, from pushing too hard in sports and academics to a general lack of discipline – Carl Honore basically evaluates all the ways we parents can mess up our kids. According to his research it seems that now more than ever parents are finding new and improved ways to sabotage childhood.

In the end, Honore writes, “there are some basic principles the hold true across class and culture: children need to feel safe and loved; they need our time and attention, with no conditions attached; they need boundaries and limits; they need space to take risks and make mistakes; they need to spend time outdoors; they need to be ranked and measured less; they need healthy food; they need to aspire to something bigger than owning the next brand-name gizmo; they need room to be themselves.”

Reading that hefty list without the background information provided in the rest of the book may seem a bit vague or even impossible. The general idea I took away from this book is that kids need to just be kids. Sure they have to study some and clean their rooms – but they also need free time to run and play and laugh and climb sketchy looking trees. Kids need to be their own person without parents forcing them into some version of what we think the perfect child should be.

Honore writes of his own learning experience, “My aim is to encourage my children to stretch their wings but to let them choose the flight path. Instead of squeezing them into my master plan, I’m enjoying finding out who they are as they grow up.”

Under Pressure was a great reminder that childhood is important just as it is – without every minute being controlled or scheduled by adults. I will say it was a bit sleep inducing at times – what with all the statistics and facts and research. (Keep in mind, I usually read books from the teen fiction section.) But the message was well worth the read. I would especially recommend this book to any parents feeling stressed out by family chaos or to parents feeling the peer pressure of their community to conform to a specific style of parenting.

What have you been reading lately?

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