Routine and structure are what every new parent receives as advice and there is solid wisdom in these suggestions. As with all things, there is a point at which a good thing becomes bad quickly. In recent years, I have begun seeing an emergence of what I am worried is becoming epidemic among, especially, elementary aged children; intolerance of change.
I am witnessing a large number of children increasingly become more rigid in their need for routine and similarity; to the point that they are becoming clinically phobic. Many children will only eat off of a very small menu of food items, will only wear certain clothing items, cannot deviate from the normal structure of their day and other examples of extreme emotional rigidity.
There are several factors I think that are leading to the increases that I have seen in children having less emotional elasticity than they did even several years ago. I am suspect of some of the popular parenting philosophies that have emerged in recent years. The whole “positive parenting” movement was lost on me honestly. Sure, I completely agree with positive words of encouragement and encouraging the strengths within our children but when we allow children to only make choices that they “feel good” about, we are not teaching them the skill of flexibility. Children must be taught, from a very early age, that obedience includes having a good attitude about decisions in which they do not agree. I think that the recent parenting ideas have led to this increase of emotional rigidity and the notion that children should be in agreement about everything concerning them. That simply isn’t life and we are setting our children up for a rude awakening as they mature into the real world.
I believe that all children must be obedient in eating a healthy variety of foods, agreeable to wear a wide range of clothing and any other safe and reasonable request from a mature loving parent. Over accommodating a child leaves them without a key character skill and for far too many children, it is leading to a rigid, small phobic world in which they live in on a daily basis.