Well, we’ve continued with our Senior Tennis experiment in spite of our various anxieties alluded to in a recent blog. However, we can gladly report to you that some of these anxieties have gone down.
For example, we were initially quite concerned that playing tennis would lead to a case of the widely known tennis elbow. However, after a few weeks, we realized that no sign of tennis elbow has appeared in either of us. And it’s unlikely that it will. That’s because it requires one to actually make contact between the tennis ball and the racket in order to acquire a case of tennis elbow. No problem; that doesn’t seem to happen much.
As psychologists, we’re both also strongly inclined to avoid hurting, humiliating, or shaming other people. Once again, this issue has proven to be no problem. There isn’t a person on the planet who would feel intimated or humiliated by playing against us in tennis.
I remember back in the late 60’s during my first psychology class the professor discussing whether children’s development was dictated by the way they were born (genetics, nature) or what their parents did with them at home especially during childhood (nurture). Back then, the view swung toward nurture. It was a hopeful message.
Good parenting could overcome lots of obstacles. It was the idea that children were quite malleable and that with the right experiences, they could be taught to be builders, doctors, lawyers, teachers, or even presidents (who’d ever want to do that to their child??!). Parents were considered pretty much responsible for teaching their kids morality, self-control, friendliness, social manners, and just about everything else. It was at once a highly optimistic outlook, but at the same time put lots of pressures on parents—especially when a kid didn’t turn out as hoped for.
Today parents worry, fret, stress, and wring their hands like never before. They worry about how to insure that their kids will thrive while achieving success, popularity, happiness, high test scores, and the best careers. They want it all for their kids. And guess what? We aren’t going to tell you that all kids can have it all. Nor do we have a simple guide to becoming the Perfect Parent of all time.
But we can give you some good ideas about setting reasonably optimal conditions for your child. You can’t control your children’s genes, all of their relationships with other kids and teachers, every interaction with other adults, the planet’s climate, nor the current economic conditions of the world—even though all of these things and more contribute to your children’s ultimate outcomes.
It’s not as if retirement doesn’t have enough anxiety associated with it. For example, many retirees report that finances and finding meaningful activities cause considerable consternation. Actually, Laura and I are only partially retired, yet we must deal with those anxieties just like people in full retirement.
The other day we ran across a news item that looked like it would solve one problem involving how to spend time productively. And by productive, we mean anything that gives us a sense of purpose, meaning, or even just enjoyment (obviously we define “productive” a little differently than we did in our previous full blast work mode).
The news item was “Super Seniors Tennis!” It was an incredibly inexpensive set of six weeks’ worth of tennis lessons followed by six weeks of Round Robin play against other seniors. OK, so we’ve never played tennis more than casually, and that was about forty years ago. But so what? It sounded like great fun.
All children experience anxiety or fear from time to time. Some fear and anxiety are normal. In fact, if kids never felt anxious at all, they would be slow to learn how to stay safe. They would likely be less motivated to study and they would have a harder time keeping their behavior in line with expectations.
So, how do you know if a child is experiencing normal, expected levels of anxiety as opposed to something that would be cause for concern or even a referral to a professional?
Certain fears and anxiety are especially typical at certain ages. The table below is excerpted from our recent book, “Child Psychology and Development For Dummies.” It describes the types of fears that are especially common at certain ages and thus, not worth worrying about. It also notes at what point you may wish to consider checking things out further.
In a future blog, we’ll discuss what the various types of truly worrisome childhood anxiety look like.