Age of Outrage: How to raise resilient children

Helicopter parents back off. Experts agree, removing all obstacles from your child's life in the early years will do them no favours later in life.

Parenting expert John Cowan says parents are, on the whole, doing a fantastic job at raising children, spending much more time in active contact with their kids than parents did some years ago.

"An average working mum now spends more time in active contact with her children than a stay-at-home-mum did back when I was growing up," Cowan told Newshub.

"Parents are taking their job much more seriously."

But he cautions this has led to parents being overprotective in some areas.

"Sometimes parents' efforts to keep children safe actually work against their safety," Cowan says.

Age of Outrage: How to raise resilient children
Photo credit: Newshub

Kids won't be able to handle the real world if they don't have the opportunity of playing in bush, walking across wobbly planks across a creek - just general kids' stuff.

Depriving kids of these experiences will mean they fail to develop the ability to evaluate risks and hazards - essential to set them up with wisdom to handle risks in the real world - and they fail in catering to a child's sense of adventure, which will set them up to go on life's big treasure hunts.

"I also think, when kids don't get a chance to experience risk in a childlike setting, they go hunting for bigger risks," he says.

Cowan says while parents sometimes have an over-the-top attitude to safety, more and more are now neglecting logical safety precautions - like getting their children vaccinated.

Tony Giles, associate principal at Rangitoto College says when parents try to take away adversity and problems and remove anxiety, they are not helping their children to build up resilience.

"Sometimes parents tend to helicopter their children, and that starts at a young age," Giles says.

"We need to see adversity and problems as positive, a part of life, so students can develop resilience to deal with difficult things later in life."

Some teachers have built 'failure' into their programmes - so children can experience failure and develop tools to deal with it.

"We want students to experience success and to build confidence, but we also want to push them and challenge them," he says.

Are we raising a generation of snowflakes?

Millennials and Generation Z are sometimes characterised as 'snowflakes' - they wilt and react to challenges to their ego and are easily offended, Cowan says.

However, he says the younger generations seem to be more aware about inclusivity and are rightly offended by jokes and biased comments about minority groups.

Age of Outrage: How to raise resilient children
Photo credit: Newshub

"We can learn a lot from teenagers and young people," Giles says.

"Their unacceptance of casual racism, of casual sexism, their tolerance for different parts of society - there's a lot for us to learn.

"We have tolerated sexism and racism and oppression, so it's great to learn from young people that we should stand up and say something on these sorts of things," he says.

Giles has noticed that on social media, it's often people in their 40s and 50s who are the most triggered and do a lot of the trolling.

"We often see bullying online from 40- and 50-year-olds," he says.

Rangitoto College student Beth Hannant, 15, says her generation - Generation Z - is more tolerant because they grew up knowing people from diverse backgrounds.

Rafe Bonniface, 16, agrees, saying she's grown up in a very different society from previous generations and that some people can be scared of change. Using the term snowflake is an insult to try and shut someone down, but it's the person saying it who's afraid of being challenged, she says.

Beth says her generation may be perceived as easily offended because they respond to comments on social media so quickly.

"We don't have that escape from other people's opinions, and we don't have that same processing time."

"We don't let things slide any more," Angus Meacher, 15, says. "We don't take things as a joke."

Giles says the older generation uses the term snowflake to dismiss something they don't like.

"Often they're being challenged by things they need to be challenged by - things like casual sexism and casual racism. When those things are raised by the younger generation, there's an immediate comeback - 'harden up, snowflake'. In reality, we do need to be challenged by those things," he says.