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Risk-averse kin putting kids in peril

London: Rising numbers of middle-class children are suffering mental health problems because parents shelter them from the harsh reality of life, a leading psychologist has warned.

Professor Tanya Byron said youngsters are growing up in a 'paranoid' culture, which tries to protect them but leaves them unable to cope with life's challenges.

She said she has treated numbers of children with anxiety disorders who lack 'emotional resilience' and are afraid of failure.

Professor Byron, who has been a clinical psychologist for 23 years and featured on the BBC series House of Tiny Tearaways, said these children were 'breaking down' despite being 'bright' and not 'from backgrounds where you would predict a greater chance of them having emotional, psychological or mental health problems'.

"There is a real concern that we have a generation of children and young people who are lacking massively in emotional resilience," a daily quoted her as saying.

Professor Byron said a prevalent 'risk-averse culture' was doing children a huge disservice.

"Children are being raised in captivity," she told the teachers' journal SecEd.

"Children are not really encouraged, supported or taught how to assess, take and manage risk and I think that it is developmentally catastrophic for them.

"But risk-taking is important because it helps children to accept, understand and embrace failure. The times when you fail are often the most powerful learning experiences one can ever have," she added.

(Agencies)

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