Our young need to change. They need to get a grip, they need to harden up, they need to fall out of a tree and hurt themselves, they need to start doing things the way that we did. Wrong.
Reality check, if you recognised yourself as one of those people who say these things, it is you who needs to get a grip, harden up, and change. Perhaps not harden up, maybe soften up. Things are changing at an ever increasing pace, possibly at a pace never seen before. Our young, although more adept at embracing change, are struggling between the old and new.
Right now, some of you, those who tell us that kids need to harden up, will be saying - "But look at the terrible suicide statistics, what they are doing isn't working so they need to change" - wrong again.
Whilst suicide is high in our youth, it knows no age. It is simply that older people have learned to compartmentalise problems and work through the tough times thus putting distance between them and the problem.
We know that men and women think the same way in emotional situations because we all have the same emotions, neuroscience shows us this. Here's an example, when a man sees a newborn baby for the first time he looks at it and thinks to himself "Wow, that is so small, so beautiful, so vulnerable". When we think these things our face softens and Mum sees that and asks us if we would like to hold her baby at which time we plunge our hands deep into our pockets and say "No, I'm good". Or we might say "Yes", and sit rigidly holding the baby.
Why does this happen for most 'older' men, because our brains are hardwired to compartmentalise emotions. If we showed fear, an emotion, thousands of years ago we were killed. That set us on a path that our young can't understand today because our young have lost the ability to compartmentalise. Young men will hold that baby and in fact won't want to give the baby back.
Social media has isolated our young, advances in technology has made gaming technically challenging, our phones can now tell us what we need to know without the need to go to the library, and the way we teach our children has now changed. All of these things are new and exciting, and excitement produces dopamine, a reward chemical in our brains. So, we keep using technology to get that dopamine hit.
Because of this, our young have become isolated, introverted, and have lost some of the social skills we learned. They now feel totally alone and lack the social skills to ask for help or may feel afraid of being judged for not being able to cope.
What can we do to help our young, we can help them to understand that they are stuck between what is ingrained in all of us through evolution, compartmentalisation, and how the way we now do things has not only sped things up to make us feel that we have to react quickly but has also isolated us from each other.
What can we, as the older generation, do to help our young even more?
We can tell our young, girls and boys, that it is okay to cry, to feel bad and sad, to talk, that things aren't always going to go the way that they want them to, that they will have bad times as well as good, and that when things don't go well that it will take some time to get over it. Most of all, we can tell them not to listen to that voice inside of their head.
Importantly, we can also tell our young that we won't ever judge them, that they can tell us anything and that we will always be there for them, no matter what they tell us. We won't judge them, we won't scold them, we won't punish them, nor will we try to fix it for them.
Instead, we will hold them, tell them that we love them, and that we will always be there whenever they need us provided they tell us everything that they are thinking about. And, we will hug them like we have never hugged them before.