American Morning

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June 21st, 2011
05:33 AM ET

Question of the Day: Are we hurting our kids by coddling them too much?

Many parents these days appear obsessed with their kids' happiness,  feeling a need to prevent them from experiencing disappointment. Writer Lori Gottlieb explores this phenomenon and the consequences this protective behavior has on young adults in her new article in The Atlantic, "How to Land Your Kids in Therapy."

Gottlieb claims that by preventing kids from experiencing doubt and defeat when they're young, parents are preventing them from being able to find their own way as adults.

American Morning wants to know: Are we hurting our kids by coddling them too much?

Post your answer here. Your response might be included in this morning’s broadcast.

Filed under: AM Asks
soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. VJ

    Agree with Jane Doe – It is never a level playing field & The world IS NOT fair. But you need to protect your kids to make sure that they appreciate a sense of being loved & have a feeling well being. Moreover you need to show them they can come to you for help, lack of which might drive them to avenues which might take a disastrous turn. This dosent means that the children should not be taught responsibility and discipline. I believe it is all about striking a proper balance.

    June 22, 2011 at 2:49 am |
  2. Sheri Noga MA

    As a psychotherapist in practice for over 30 years, I have watched the deterioration of children's mental states in the last 10 – 15 years. These observations are supported by research and compelled me to write a book about over-indulgent parenting. This is not simply another example of "Parents can't do anything right" – Giving children everything while expecting little of them is a formula for creating an adult who can't cope with real life. These problems are very real and serious. Parents need to educate themselves.

    Sheri Noga MA
    Author of "Have the Guts to Do it Right: Raising Grateful and Responsible Children in an Era of Indulgence"

    June 21, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
  3. Kim Mack

    Mr. Incredible said it best..."We need to stop rewarding mediocrity". First place is called first place for a reason. As parents it is our job to guide our children to be the very best of themselves. Minimum effort = minimum return.

    June 21, 2011 at 9:28 am |
  4. Dee

    YES kids are being coddled too much .......... how can we expect our children to learn independence if we keep doing everything for them?

    June 21, 2011 at 8:45 am |
  5. TJ

    This is the same as participation awards. How do kids learn to work hard to win and be competitive if no matter how well they play in sports they always get a trophy? That's one of our biggest problems in this PC world! We aren't competitive enough anymore. We have settled for mediocrity and that's not right!

    June 21, 2011 at 8:45 am |
  6. william harkey

    Coddling is not the problem. We've lost the ability to parent our children. We've lost interest in raising our kids and law makers have passed legislation that takes away the ability of parents and teachers to control their enviroment. We need to get back to basics. Love, caring, nurturing and positive and negitive reinforcement. Everyone says that children are the future, well it's time we look to that future.

    June 21, 2011 at 8:05 am |
  7. Jane Doe

    Absolutely yes! Hey kids – guess what? You DO do bad things. There are winners AND losers. The world DOES NOT revolve around you – contrary to what your parents tell you. The world IS NOT fair. There is no such thing as a level playing field. Learn this early in life and you won't be such a whiny adult.

    June 21, 2011 at 8:04 am |
    • Dee


      June 21, 2011 at 8:47 am |
  8. Dixie Dyer

    Once I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease, I asked my gastroenterologist if it was possible that because of living in such a 'germ free' environment of today's society we were making our bodies more susceptable to auto immune diseases and allergies . . .he paused and said he couldn't say for sure but it was very possible. When growing up over 50 years ago, our society, as a whole, was clean but not so adamant about being sterile – we were healthier and our bodies adjusted better to changes in the environment. Clean is good but we seem to be going overboard at times.

    June 21, 2011 at 8:02 am |
  9. Don

    I think where we are really hurting your children is buying tons of cheap, junk toys from China that have flooded our markets. It is so terribly easy to buy a $1 toy to distract our children. I would be curious to know if anyone beleives as I do that as these toys accumulate in our homes that it could very well be affecting their ability to concentrate and appreciate one small set of toys. Perhaps we are promoting ADD in our children when we buy so many cheap toys.

    June 21, 2011 at 7:57 am |
  10. George Guadiane

    "Are we hurting our kids by coddling them too much?"
    That depends on what you expect for an outcome:
    If you want dependent children who are not able to examine and resolve problems on their own, based at least in part on their own personal experiences, their choices and the subsequent consequences, then no.

    I'm not suggesting that we give a five year old a pack of cigarettes, a bottle of gin and no supervision, but raising a child, to me, means TEACHING a child about life not protecting them from life.

    June 21, 2011 at 7:54 am |
  11. Marilyn

    Ask the children what they think about competition.
    My daughter was asked in a competition for rodeo queen what she thought about being a runner-up.
    She replied that second-place was invented by first-place to make itself feel better.

    June 21, 2011 at 7:52 am |
  12. Rockyy

    Most parents are over using the word PLEASE.. Go to any mall or restaurant, you will witness terrible Parenting skills, "Stop that please" is what you hear from parent to a naughty kid, in my growing up days,all my mom has to do is look at me, and I will get it that whatever I was doing was not acceptable. Teach the kids at home and they will not embarrass you in public.

    June 21, 2011 at 7:33 am |
  13. bonnie

    Possibly worse then coddling is making excuses for children when they are in the wrong and saving them from consequences. It's good to learn about consequences when you're young because as we get bigger the consequences for our actions get bigger.

    June 21, 2011 at 7:31 am |
  14. steph

    When you look into those sad eyes because they did not get a trophy try saying: "Did you do the best you could do? then, what can we do so the next time so you do better?" Make it a learning experience. What will happen when your child can't walk a mile because it is toooo hard, or as an adult he learns a childhood lesson that it takes all your effort to win that job?

    June 21, 2011 at 7:28 am |
  15. Shelly

    As a 25 year old who was raised in America but by Asian Immigrants, my answer, in a word, would be YES. Growing up, I was taught to believe that a 93 on an exam was an expectation, not an accomplishment – a 100% is something thats worth celebration. While I struggled with this in my adolescence, sometimes not feeling like I was good enough, I appreciate it more than my mother will ever know now. This kind of 'non-coddling' has taught me to be incredibly driven, motivated and ambitious. The most important lesson that it has taught me is that one can ALWAYS strive to be a better person. This article touches on this topic.

    June 21, 2011 at 7:27 am |
  16. Andrew Jacksonville, FL

    Kids these days have no discipline, just the other day I was walking on the beach and heard a child cussing his little sister out this kid could not have been more than 7 years old. Parents are letting their kids do what ever they want and then when parents are confronted about it they act like their child is the perfect kid. We should quit babying our children and start teaching them some discipline and self responsibility.

    June 21, 2011 at 7:26 am |
  17. brad

    Yes we are they need to.learn that failer is posibale and how to deal with it.

    June 21, 2011 at 7:16 am |
  18. Samantha

    A parent's job is to raise their children in preparation for adulthood. To interfere with a child's success in learning coping skills is essentially handicapping a human being from prospering into a contributing citizen of the world. I've seen it first hand as an instructor in the Air Force. Too often these young adults don't even know what size clothing they wear for uniform issuance. When a person is a certain age, even into their very early 20's, the lack of common knowledges is embarrassing and directly reflects one's upbringing and their parents. That's usually a parents biggest fear- that their children embarrass them in public, their biggest fear is usually their biggest mistake.

    June 21, 2011 at 7:07 am |
  19. Angela Charlotte, NC

    As an immigrant I protected my son, especially when he was diagnosed with ADHD. It was hard not to. I did not allow him to fail, even when i should have. He is now in the generation of "I must have it now."
    With new parents having so much say in schools and a "them and us" attitiude, I fear this next generation will be the generation of "I can do no wrong." Then where will we be?

    June 21, 2011 at 7:06 am |
  20. tod hale

    Seriously, what is frightening are the legions of paranoid soccer moms who insist on blanket use of antibiotics for their spoiled brats whenever a virus gives them the sniffles. Welcome to the world of drug resistant strains of bacteria.

    June 21, 2011 at 7:03 am |
  21. Rob

    While it is possible to over-coddle and spoil a child, the much larger problem in our society is children not being loved enough to develop a sense of well-being and self-confidence. The lack of positive regard from parents to children is resulting in all manner of social maladies from underage sex and pregnancy to drug and alcohol abuse. We are worried about the wrong things, and as a result, we are asking the wrong questions.

    June 21, 2011 at 7:01 am |