Children need boundaries
Childhood anxiety is often the result of poor boundaries that encourage insecurity.
One of the great issues children suffer from is anxiety. This anxiety spawns many symptoms from suicide to bullying. An industry has been built up to profit from childhood anxiety in the form of therapists to drugs, an industry which would rather the child continue to exist in this anxious state. Anxiety spins off because of insecurity, and the insecurity is caused by ineffective boundaries, the solution is healthy boundaries.
Children are a resource, like seed in the ground, they are potential, a resource that is still to manifest and flower. The carer and teacher are the gardeners, and society provides the soil in which these seeds will grow from. Like everything humanity has poisoned the soil in which these seeds are growing, and the gardeners are less skilled and wise in their ability than former generations.
All children need security if they are to flourish. If the child is anxious they waste energy on dealing with the crisis rather than growing. The answer is healthy boundaries, which provide protection, opportunities to grow and a structure for the child to build a world view of self and reality. The current boundaries that the majority of children encounter in the English-speaking world are bad, they fail to provide opportunities to grow, and are so vague that the child has little idea what or where they are.
Yasmeen Olya makes a good point on how to protect children in her blog post. Anything that makes a child feel insecure leads to anxiety, which pulls away resources that could have been used for growing. If there are troubles in the family or in the world, the child has no need to know about it. Protection is age and ability dependent, a child should only come into contact with sex, violence and the problems of society when they are emotionally able to handle it; if they come against anything they are not ready for they suffer anxiety on a crippling level. Television, video games and internet would be better eliminated or severely limited for most pre-teens.
Children grow if they are given the opportunity to play, experience and do. One of the important opportunities is giving children access to nature. Nature is a great teacher, it will present children with natural challenges that prepare the child emotionally for the raw world of human society. Children will encounter sex, death, suffering, violence in nature, as well as the living, nurturing, beauty and nobility that nature provides too. Children can play, swim, dig, climb and create in a social experiential environment. There are many forms of opportunity beyond nature, and they all provide growing opportunities as longs as they are unstructured and available. Opportunities need only adults to teach skills and knowledge, but the process or route the child chooses to create and explore should be left to them. The human body is designed for activity so all opportunities are good if they encourage physical, emotional and intellectual activity in a liberated open way. See anaturemom.com for what I mean about opportunities.
To a certain extent children come into the world with no sense of self or reality. It is through play, doing and experience that the child slowly constructs a world view. The child automatically borrows a world view from their carers and teachers as a substitute whilst they slowly construct their own. It is down to the carer and teacher to provide a clear world view for the child which sets the limits which the child works in. If the boundaries are unclear or invisible the child has no idea who they are or where they are in the world; suddenly the world grows into a large and dangerous place, insecurity sets in and then so does anxiety. The structure starts off restricted with few choices, but grows as the child grows.
Boundaries that are ability dependent
Whilst age provides a good framework around which to construct boundaries, with greater experience it would be better to construct the boundaries based on ability. Take for example a highly intelligent child, they will need boundaries that are less restrictive than a normal ability student. Likewise a child with disabilities need more restrictive boundaries than a normal ability child.
I end with a video of an intelligent child who needed a university rather than normal school to satisfy their intellectual needs. Though such a child preferred adult company to that of their age group, they still need strong emotional boundaries.