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Sometimes, Itís OK To Cry

Sometimes, Itís OK To CryParentsand educators, contends Tufts child development expert David Elkind,are increasingly geared towards cocooning children from sometimesdifficult experiences they need to go through in order to matureinto fully-functional adults.Medford/Somerville,Mass.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [02.01.05] Increasingly, more and more parents are striving toshelter their children from the harsh realities of the world –be they germs, bad grades, or bike crashes. But children needthe chance to make mistakes and get hurt, says a Tufts child psychologist,who adds that sheltering kids can deprive them of some of theformative experiences of growing up.

"Kidsneed to feel badly sometimes," Prof. DavidElkind of the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Developmentat Tufts told Psychology Today. "We learn throughexperience and we learn through bad experiences. Through failurewe learn how to cope."

Despite theirbest intentions, parents’ involvement in their children’sdevelopment – such as applying formal instruction to youngchildren rather than allowing for an organic learning process– may be more harmful than helpful.

"Parentsand schools are no longer geared toward child development, they'regeared to academic achievement," Elkind said.

While thelessons learned in the classroom are important, so are the lessonslearned on the playground.

The purposeof children’s playtime, experts say, is not for amusementso much as it is for important role-playing and decision-makingthat will eventually yield practical applications as they growolder.

Attempts byparents to control this experience could be detrimental.

"So manytoys now are designed by and for adults," he told the magazine."Children aren't getting any benefits out of play as theyonce did."

The uncertaintyof the future may influence parents to try to prepare their childrenfor the unpredictable as thoroughly as possible. But Elkind suggestsletting things take their course.

"It'shard to know what the world is going to look like 10 years fromnow," Elkind told Psychology Today. "How bestdo you prepare kids for that? Parents think that earlier is better.That's a natural intuition, but it happens to be wrong."

Rather thanspending time, money and effort managing the experiences of ourown children, the Tufts expert believes that people should directthat energy toward less fortunate youngsters who have fewer resourcesand less direction.

"We focusso much on our own children,” he said. “It's timeto begin caring about all children."

Elkind’snew book, No Time for Play: The Over-Programmed Child,is due to be released later this year. His previous books includeThe Hurried Child: Growing Up Too Fast Too Soon and AllGrown Up and No Place to Go: Teenagers in Crisis.

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