Articles are available for reprint as long as the author is acknowledged: Domenick J. Maglio Ph.D.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015


By Domenick J. Maglio PhD. Traditional Realist

Giving children too little responsibility and too much help to solve simple problems is disabling their ability to think. The electronic world is encouraging children to think they are smarter than they are. Learning to think well for oneself is a lengthy and arduous process.

Several generations ago children were an integral part of the family. In cities they helped the family by shopping in local stores, doing chores around the house and caring for their siblings. In agrarian areas the children had even more opportunity to learn responsibilities not only related to the home but to the family business. They had to do it correctly or answer to the owner: their parents.

These parents expected their children to contribute to the family. Children were told to do tasks and listen well to everything their parents said. They knew the parents meant business. The children understood if they got confused it was up to them to figure out how to complete the objective on their own. There was no option of going back to the parents with made up stories. The child was not considered a baby and it was up to him to get the job done. He had to think and find his own way of doing things.

In school the same process happened. Students were given assignments and were expected to do them. Excuses were not acceptable. Parents backed the teacher’s authority and demanded the child do what the teacher said. Youngsters were required to get it done on their own or receive a failing grade. The student had to figure a positive way to complete the assignment. It forced them to think.

Today you only have to ask Siri or Google it. There is no need to think.

Modern children are not interacting with other people as they have traditionally done. There are few opportunities for them to join neighborhood peers in play outside the house. Usually children’s activities are scheduled by their parents who chauffer them from one expert led extracurricular activity to another. Supervising adults handle any incidents between children that occur in a scheduled activity. Youngsters no longer have the opportunity to solve social disagreements and altercations with their peers.

In the modern family everyone seems to be in his own world. Parents are involved with their business responsibilities often throughout the day and even at night. Family dinners are difficult to schedule every evening and when they do occur involved discussions with the family is rare. It is almost impossible to have intense conversations about the day when everybody has been doing his own thing. Every family member’s fallback position is to take out his cell phone and entertain himself.  Self-absorption is no longer considered rude in many social situations.

Families working, speaking, playing together or doing simple chores to contribute to the family are becoming passé’. These were times parents could influence the child’s skills, beliefs and thinking through casual or spontaneous teaching moments. Those moments are becoming extremely rare as children spend less quantity time with their parents.  Loved ones and other authority figures are not teaching their children how to think right and reason through the problems they face.

In school students are constantly tempted to search the web for all answers to academic questions rather than research and think until they solve the problem. Any history, literature or science questions can easily be Googled. Even math textbook problems can be handled by finding the answer key online.

Thinking to solve one’s own problems is a waste of time to modern pampered children. They do not have the skills, inclination or confidence to even attempt to do it on their own. Learning to deal with problems they will inevitably confront is essential to become competent, self reliant and motivated people.

The overprotected, untrained adults should have been allowed to face the pain of learning from their mistakes. Learning to accept failure helps propel children to improve. Not giving grades, not keeping score and giving unearned positive reinforcement results in high esteem, non-thinking, mentally disabled younger generation.

A society that does not encourage an independent thinking citizenry is destined to become a totalitarian welfare country. This handicaps today’s children who are deprived of the experiences children in the past learned from to cope with life. Modern children have no need to figure out problems because parents will rush in to do it for the child. This is happening even after they reach adulthood. Instead of young adults feeling an obligation to care for their parents in their old age, their modern parents feel a responsibility to care for these children by setting up trust funds. These self-absorbed young adults are recognized as “trust fund babies.”

Coddled children are not prepared to face the harshness of society. They wind up angry and disillusioned not being able to reach their unrealistic objectives. These non-thinking people become a burden that will negatively impact every aspect of society. These missed opportunities to face reality should frighten us all.
It is the duty of parents to provide reality tests and opportunities to stimulate the thinking processes of their children. It is rarely being done now.



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