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Sunday, Mar 29, 2015

Maglio: Setting a child up for failure

Traditional Realist


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Our children are shielded from reality. The cultural notion is that youngsters are too fragile to face it. This idea has seeped into our child rearing, our schools, sports, and businesses where children congregate. We are making our children weak by not allowing them to face the anxiety or fear of failure.

Straight talk with modern children is seen as mean spirited. When an adult interacts with a child he is supposed to smile regardless of the outrageous actions. Parents are supposed to treat their children as princes and princesses. Children have been granted the run of the house. They are not taught to pick up after themselves and potty training is set by the whim of the child. No longer are the sleeping and eating rituals established and followed by parents. It is a haphazard, tug-of-war process.

Chores are out of the questions with so many little things that the child has not been taught to do correctly. They are missing the skills needed to complete more complex tasks. Parents are so harried that they do not have the time and patience to show the child and demand he do a task in a particular manner although time is made for their own social events. Parental expectations are almost nonexistent for the child at home. It is easier and faster to do things oneself.

Having no defined limits, the child has less respect for the parent's authority. Parents shirk from enforcing their rules. They are preoccupied with having the child like them rather than toughening them up to be prepared to strive for a life of success.

Too many parents say things like showing up on time is important when they arrive late every day for school and social events. Parents are taking many short cuts in front of their children that are imitated by them. The child is in part a reflection of the parent's behavior.

Parents do not have the motivation, time or energy to teach the child to do quality jobs at home. Children are not developing pride in their work as there are few expectations and standards established for them to gauge success. The child never learns what is required to do his best. There is not the time taken to supervise and follow through. The parents rarely do household jobs themselves so the child can watch or learn how to do it too.

Not only are parents busy at their own employment and social lives, they believe they are responsible to create a chock-full schedule for their children's after school hours. This places the child on a treadmill where the child does not have time to process the information learned at school or to do quality homework.

In many extra curricular activities like dance, martial arts, and sports, the instructor is encouraged to be less than honest with his students. Modern parents do not want to hear their children are average or below. This is done to keep the parents and students coming back. Practically everyone who participates has to receive a trophy. This means most of the participants have an over inflated impression of their abilities, which leaves them devastated when they move up to the next level of competition.

Our children's egos are not only being cushioned by phony praise but from social reality. Everyone has to receive a Valentine's card in class regardless of whether the child is liked or not. Every childish put down from another youngster is made into a federal case of bullying. An authority figure who tells a child that his performance is inferior to others is usually confronted by an irate parent.

It is time for modern parents to realize they have only a finite time to mold a child into a well-rounded self-reliant person. It is better for the child to learn how to overcome failure at something they want to achieve when they are under their parent's supervision. The parent's encouragement and pushing the child to try harder teaches him the lesson of perseverance. To be successful overcoming obstacles is an unavoidable part of life.

When children's parents do not structure and enforce parameters children have a difficult time learning self-discipline. Parent's role modeling and teaching children to do everything right, to the best of their ability, is essential to place them on the road to reaching their goals. Anything less is setting up the child for failure.

Domenick Maglio, PhD. is a columnist carried by various newspapers, an author of several books and owner/director of Wider Horizons School, a college prep program in Spring Hill. Visit him at and email him at

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