There are so many things we wish our children would grow up knowing. However, separating the wheat from the chaff, the wisdom from the illusions is always a tough thing to do. And some things that our kids end up learning do more harm than good, don’t you think, dear Pandas?

Well, the parents of Reddit have been pitching in and sharing their takes on what harmful things are being taught to children in a viral thread over on r/AskReddit. From advice on how we should always be double-checking information to embracing failure instead of running away from it, some of these tips and tricks are spot-on and help kids grow into healthy, happy adults. (And don’t tell anyone this, but some of us adults could use a handful of these tips, too.)

Have a read through them below and upvote the ones you agree with. Got any additional tips on what things children should and shouldn’t be taught? Be sure to share your thoughts with all the other Readers in the comment section.

I reached out to Lenore Skenazy to learn more about how to overcome the passive mindset that kids are taught to embrace in school and to be actively driven by curiosity into adulthood. Lenore is the founder of the Free-Range Kids movement and the president of Let Grow, a nonprofit organization that fights overprotection, promotes independence, and makes kids ‘future-proof.’ and the founder of the Free-Range Kids movement. You’ll find her insights that she shared with Bored Panda below, dear Readers.

#1

Little girls get told all the time that boys are bullying them because they like them

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Aurelia!
Community Member
2 months ago

yeah its stupid

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#2

Boys don't cry.

Let the damn boys cry

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Aurelia!
Community Member
2 months ago

LET THEM CRY!

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#3

Making children hug or kiss someone (usually a relative) that they are uncomfortable with is not good. The child may just be grumpy and or not wanting to show affection or their warning bell sensors could be going off and they do not know how to communicate that. Plus forcing them to hug/kiss sends mixed messages about personal/physical boundaries and affection itself

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monsa8
Community Member
2 months ago

This is so true. Spot on!

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Modern schooling, if left to its own devices, generally has the unwanted effect of making kids far more passive than we’d like them to be. School tends to reward following orders and compliance more than independence, active curiosity, and drive. And that’s an issue that can have far-reaching consequences, one of which is the fear of doing what you want or trying new things.

“When a seventh-grade teacher friend of mine asked her students—aged 12 and 13—what new things they wanted to do on their own, but were still a little hesitant to try, the responses were rather shocking to me,” Lenore, the founder of Let Grow and the Free-Range Kids movement, shared with Bored Panda.

“One kid wanted to walk the dog—but was afraid it would get off the leash. Another said he wanted to go to the store—but he’d never been inside one without his mom, and he was worried about being surrounded by strangers. A few said they wanted to take a bike ride or even climb a tree, but they were afraid of hurting themselves.”

#4

What to think instead of how to think

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lenka
Community Member
2 months ago

Yes!

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#5

That they shouldn't question an adult

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Aurelia!
Community Member
2 months ago

YES if we don't question adults, oppressive systems will stay THE SAME we will just pass them down and never make any progress.

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#6

That failure is bad. Failing should not be considered as an obstacle but a step in the learning process. Demonizing the failure and stigma associated with it makes many children lose their interest once they fail.

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Aurelia!
Community Member
2 months ago

EMBRACE THE FAILURE

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Lenore explained that “our catastrophizing culture” has scared parents so much, they’re anxious about letting their kids do pretty much anything and everything. While there are exceptions, of course, many parents veer sharply towards being overprotective and overbearing because they fear for their munchkins’ safety.

Ironically, the result is the opposite of what they want. “The result is not safety, it’s anxiety—kids who absorbed the message that everything is too much for them to handle. When you’re anxious, a simple slip-up doesn’t seem so simple. It seems huge—even life-threatening. How can you avoid those awful threats? That part is simple,” Lenore detailed. “You avoid doing anything.”

Doing nothing is exactly what the seventh graders that Lenore mentioned up above ended up doing. That fear spread to other parts of their life in the classroom, from taking tests (“what if they got a bad grade?”) to asking the teacher which side of the page they should write their name on (“they wouldn’t dare just choose their own!”).

#7

Nobody cares about children’s/teens issues. “Well it’s only going to get worse from here”. “You think school is hard? Have you ever paid a f**king bill” “You’re just a kid you can’t feel this way”.

It breeds an emotional disconnect from parents and their kids. And makes kids feel alone in their emotional struggles, that nobody cares because they’re not adults and they don’t have “Adult Problems”.

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Toko Danganronpa
Community Member
2 months ago

Exactly. People often have bad assumptions of teenagers, but they have myriads of issues they don't talk about.

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#8

It seems like forcing kids to eat everything off their plate is pretty harmful, it doesn't matter if they're full, they have to clean off their plate and they can't leave the table until they do

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Erihapeti Swampwitch
Community Member
2 months ago (edited)

I agree, this doesn't allow children to self regulate and know when they are full. It me years to unlearn this behavior.

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#9

That you can be anything you want in life.

Sorry but this just isn't correct. Poor Eddie who can't grasp basic division isn't going to be an astronaut

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Foxxy (The Original)
Community Member
2 months ago (edited)

I agree with this 100%. I also hate the saying that everything is possible if you put your mind to it. Umm no, not everything is possible for everyone.

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“The teacher told one girl who came to class late and hadn’t had time to get lunch, ‘That’s ok—just go grab something from the cafeteria and come back!’ ‘By myself?’ the girl asked. She was afraid to walk down the halls of her safe school, in a safe neighborhood, in suburban New York. Everyday life is seen as filled with risk.”

This passivity isn’t making children any happier, Lenore put it bluntly. Instead, kids are kept deep inside their comfort zones fully believing that it’s all that they can stand and that this is all that life has to offer. Fortunately, the students that Lenore mentioned had an awesome teacher who didn’t want them to go into high school and then adulthood with so much fear in their lives.

“She wanted to break the shell growing thicker around them every day. And so she assigned The Let Grow Project—a homework assignment that tells kids to, ‘Go home and do something new, on your own.’ At last, the kids were given a push to get out of their comfort zone—and so were their parents. After all, now school was telling them to let go of their kids and give them a little independence,” Lenore said.

#10

“No “tattle tails” or “snitching”

How many kids are abused or bullied and won’t come forward because of this?”

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Rakjell Hanwell
Community Member
2 months ago (edited)

The best way to 'deal' with a kid who is constantly snitching on others for minute things, in my experience, is to take them seriously and if it is possible (which with small conflicts between children it normally almost always is) to tell them to resolve the conflict on their own, by talking. Or, if the snitching kid actually was the one causing the conflict, to show them that you are aware of who actually started it ('Sarah was mean to me!' 'That is not nice, but I also saw you taking away her stuff. Could it be that she wasn't nice to you because of that?') Snitching becomes much less exciting, when there is no adult who goes berserk on the one your snitching on (or if you get caught doing something 'bad' yourself)

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#11

"If he's mean to you he likes you" It just teaches little girls (mostly girls) to expect violence from people who love them

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GirlFriday
Community Member
2 months ago

Again, this comes from people thinking girls are easier to control. "It is easier for us to teach the girl that she likes being hit than it is for us to teach the boy to stop hitting."

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#12

My son’s preschool has a strict “you do not have to play if you don’t want to” policy. No one has to play with anyone they don’t want to play with. They say that no one has to to hug or touch anyone or be touched if they don’t want it. No one has to share their toys or other school supplies if they aren’t done with it. In fact the preschool teacher will go over and referee and say “is Bobby done with the toy car? No? Then Mikey, you have to wait until he is done.” It’s pretty refreshing. I wanted to let you know there are new philosophies and my son’s preschool really strongly teaches body autonomy. Your body is your own and no one can touch it or make you do anything with it without your permission

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Rissie
Community Member
2 months ago

Oh, I'm not totally fine with this. Sometimes some guidance can be refreshing too for that kid that has a hard time connecting or little Bobby has been hogging that car the whole day. Small children totally act on instinct. Helping them look at other angles isn't going to hurt anyone. Just don't force anything. Hugs and physical contact? Totally agree. Although I feel this is more of an American thing?

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“You can see the results in this 2-minute video. That teacher made them do twenty Let Grow Projects. And the result was kids blossoming like crazy—riding their bikes, joining sports programs, piercing their ears, making dinner, walking to town with their friends, and discovering how great it is to do rather than to hide.”

Lenore stressed that any school can do The Let Grow Project and all of their materials are available absolutely for free. You’ll find the project right here and the Independence Kit right over here.”It works for kids aged 5 to 14 or so. And by the way, if you or your school do The Project, drop me a note—I’d love to hear about it! You can write to me via Info@LetGrow.org,” Lenore added, saying that she wants you, dear Pandas, to reach out to her.

#13

Being wrong is bad. That's why many people don't change their mind when they were given trustable sources, they don't want to be wrong

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Katherine Boag
Community Member
2 months ago

It's more than that, it's that being wrong will get you made fun of. Being wrong makes you an idiot.

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#14

Abstinence only sex education. This is more of what they're not being taught. Proper sex education is important.

Edit: For anyone interested I'm posting a link to a John Oliver segment on Americas sex education system. Its very informative but also quite funny.

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Foxxy (The Original)
Community Member
2 months ago

I am just curious but do any other countries do abstinence based sex education or is it really only America?

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#15

My mom would often punish me for something, and whenever I asked why or what I did I was told “I’m the adult and you are the child” or “because I said so” or “you shouldn’t need a reason”.

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Marianne
Community Member
2 months ago

How can punishment have any positive effect when the child has no idea what they did wrong?

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In an earlier interview with Lenore, the president of Let Grow, and the founder of the Free-Range Kids movement, told Bored Panda about how kids can keep their curiosity burning and their desire to learn bright and well-honed as they grow.

"I’ve been wondering this myself: How to stay curious when hit by 'the blahs?' Next to Covid (and in great part thanks to Covid) the blahs are the most catching virus around. You get tired and bored by being tired and bored, talking about being tired and bored, and succumbing to them,” Lenore said about how the pandemic is making all of us feel less energetic, physically and mentally.

“Unfortunately, the whole thing is self-reinforcing: A feeling of listlessness leads you to scroll through your social media of choice, which makes you feel more blah, leading you to scroll some more, etc."

#16

Doing the right thing will sometimes make others hate you. Be prepared for that.

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Stephanie IV
Community Member
2 months ago

That is a good thing to teach.

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#17

That complaining is the same as not being grateful. Can’t count the number of times growing up when adults basically told me to shut up whenever I was complaining about something and that I should be grateful that I was born where I was. Like sure, I’m glad I wasn’t born into some starving African family, but that doesn’t mean everything is perfect over here and that we shouldn’t try to improve things here as well.

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Foxxy (The Original)
Community Member
2 months ago

Yes I hate this. People even say it to adults. We are entitled to our feelings, doesn’t matter if someone has a worse life than us, everyone copes with things differently.

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#18

No is a 'bad' word. It's a strong word but not a bad one.

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Aurelia!
Community Member
2 months ago

So true - it is important to understand what 'no' means and to take it seriously, but also be able to use it when it is needed. Teach them early, and consent won't be an issue.

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Lenore put it bluntly: if we want to be curious about life again, if we want to be constantly learning, we have to start off by getting off the couch. “Force yourself out the door. Why? Because beyond your four walls, things are never exactly the same. Weather, animals, people, sounds, smells, clouds—they’re all swirling about."

She continued: "Ask yourself to start noticing new things. I did that this morning with a friend. We took a walk around our neighborhood and started looking for interesting details in the homes and buildings we passed. It went from a walk down streets we’d seen a million times to a sort of treasure hunt. And the big thing we were really hunting for? Curiosity! When you’re curious, you’re alive again—noticing, thinking, making connections. You can’t do that if there’s no new information coming in. So your first step is to force yourself out of a rut by leaving the house (harder during the pandemic, but not impossible)."

#19

"The parents never make a mistake"

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Tame panda
Community Member
2 months ago

Best one

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#20

"No backtalk." Many adults use it as "you're not allowed to challenge what I have to say." Makes sense if it's a cranky toddler being negative for negativity's sake, but suddenly older children can't question things or raise valid points of their own.

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Raine Soo
Community Member
2 months ago

Growing up, I was all about the backtalk. My father found it amusing that I was a wise-ass. My mother hated it because it was so unbecoming of a young lady.

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#21

That you shouldnt hit a woman. Dont hit anyone! (unless its self defence) If my child is being hit by a woman, and bullied...equal rights equal fights

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Foxxy (The Original)
Community Member
2 months ago

Very true. If you can dish it, then you can take it.

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If you look at the pandemic from a different perspective, it might motivate you to start learning new things. For instance, think about what you’d wish you’d learned or a skill that you’d like to have honed by the end of the pandemic.

“Think of something you’d like to be able to say you’ve been working on, especially once life returns to normal: 'Well, I wasted a lot of that free time I had, but at least I started...' Or, 'At least I learned…' For my sister, she’s taking ballet online. For my husband, he’s learning film editing. For me, it’s… oh God! I better come up with something fast! Um…let’s say I will learn how to create a Clubhouse program. Ok?" Lenore quipped that even the best of the best can struggle with this during the lockdowns.

#22

That the news is completely reliable

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Rissie
Community Member
2 months ago

Sweety, even your own eyes deceive you. Always be open for changes to your reality.

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#23

Happened to my son in middle school, a kid sucker punched my son. My son then fought back and pinned the kid against the wall ( he has long arms) and punched him a few times. The school called me and my wife and told us our son was suspended. We went to the school and they said even though multiple witnesses as well as the kid said he threw the first punch that the school had a zero tolerance policy so our son would be suspended. We asked what the school believed our son should have done and they said he should just walk away. We told them that he would not be receiving any punishment at home and that the policy was f**ked up.

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Caroline
Community Member
2 months ago

I always tell my kids to never ever start a fight, but I will always be on their side when they retaliate. I am allowing them to defend themselves anyway they can, regardless of school rules. The attacker should be the one being punished not the defender.

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#24

I think what we're not taught is more harmful. For example the fact that we never learn (at least in my country) how to fact check things.

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Aurelia!
Community Member
2 months ago

so true, here in the US, our education system is MESSED UP we need to rethink how and what we teach our children

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Even leaving the house to get your blood flowing is a great step toward learning a new skill. What’s more, feeling envy toward someone who’s good at a particular skill or particularly learned is a good way to get yourself motivated to strive for more.

“Do not worry if you are taking that first step as simply something you’re doing thanks to social pressure, or for someone other than yourself. Change is change—the motivation doesn’t matter,” Lenore told Bored Panda.

Lenore believes that we should always be questing to learn more about the world while verifying whether or not something is actually true. That means navigating the world of false claims and fake news.

#25

That everybody is a winner. No. Losing and disappointments are part of life and they are integral to your growth both emotionally and socially. We have a lot of people who enter the real world who have been told they are deserving of things just because and cannot take rejections and losses in their personal and professional lives with any grace whatsoever. This is also resulting in mediocrity being accepted as a norm cos nobody wants to call out ineptitude. While the hard work and dedication being put in by people who do end up in good positions are being played down. It's a little harsh but it's true. Kids gotta learn how to lose before they can truly start to win. That's the only way being gracious in victory will ever come about.

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troufaki13
Community Member
2 months ago

Participation trophies may lead to giving no effort at all in my opinion. Why would someone try if they're going to get praised anyway? Embrace failure, learn from it and if you want to succeed you can try harder next time :)

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#26

Kids are starting social media so early these days, and I think that’s very dangerous because it puts a lot of pressure on the kid to attribute their worth to their social media success. I also think parents are way too open with their social media when it comes to their kids, and it’s totally a violation of the child’s privacy, of which some parents will never admit

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Rakjell Hanwell
Community Member
2 months ago

My 'favorite mum was the one who wouldn't allow the nursery school I worked in to take any photos of their child (making her child the only one who didn't get a memory book and learning portfolio) and screamed at me, because I (a man) was helping her daughter get dressed after she peed herself (she never objected to me doing so in advance and knew, that was one of my duties). She herself then proceeded to post hundreds of pictures of her daughter, including nude swimming pool photos, on facebook.

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#27

Bullies are only bullies because they feel insecure about themselves and you should sympathize with them. **k that, if someone is being s****y to you then they don't deserve your sympathy.

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Beeps
Community Member
2 months ago

I was always told that “bullies are only jealous of you” - whilst that may be true, it doesn’t help with the problem and kind of puts the blame on the victim for somehow doing too well.

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"When you’re reading an article that seems to be so shocking that you’re amazed this is the first time you’re hearing about it, take a short phrase from the piece and Google it. If something strikes you as fishy, go fishing," she said.

"As for whether or not your fishing will lead you to disinformation rather than the truth, try not to fish blindly. If you’re curious about crime stats, for instance, look these up on a government website, not some random blog," she explained. Checking websites like Snopes to see if some shocking stories are real or not is a good move.

#28

Not owning up to their mistakes or blaming them on others.

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Caroline
Community Member
2 months ago

A lot of children nowadays are not accepting responsibilities. It's always someone else's fault. It makes me mad, especially as it's not just kids who do this, but society in general.

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#29

Children do learn about sex at a young age, it just isn’t usually in a productive way. I know I did.

My own experience: questions like this are why I believe in being infinitely clear with my kids….”you are going to hear total [nonsense] from other kids. If you hear something you don’t understand, come talk to me. You can ask me anything and expect a decent answer.” And I would give examples of the total [nonsense] I had heard as a kid, most of which would result in pregnancy.

Son, age 6. Daughter, age 7. Riding home from school: daughter says “Tiffany said she had sex with my brother.” Which left me a grand total of 3 minutes to gather my wits before we got home.

OK, do you guys know what sex is? Blank looks. Sex is when you take off all of your clothes and rub privates together. You can make babies that way. Looks of shock and disgust. Do you think your brother had sex with Tiffany? Nooo! I think she was using a really bad way of trying to say she likes him, and maybe she watches the wrong TV shows where if people like each other they always have sex.

Were my kids really ready for a sex talk? No, not really. They didn’t care. Did we really need to have one about then? Yep. My job as a parent is to be there to put things that come up in context for them, not run around after them deciding what and when they need to know things.

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nanashi
Community Member
2 months ago

I believe when a kid starting to ask about sex, no matter what age, you the adult should explain it age appropriately. don't avoid it. don't mix with fantasy/myth/BS. just use the language level that they would understand.

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#30

How to internalize stress and implode as teens and adults.

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Siah avis
Community Member
2 months ago

And teach them how to let someone know they are uncomfortable. Like how to approach someone in a position higher than you to tell them youre not ok with something.

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