Abstract: The Author delves into the profound meaning of childhood well-being by highlighting its dynamic (and not static) content and warning against behaviors that can negatively impact the balanced development of younger people.

In the past it was believed that well-being was only or predominantly economic and collective, linked to the concept of utility or rather of “ophelimity”, which refers to the psychological state of pleasure that the individual feels in front of the goods and services at his disposal . Subsequently, we began to consider psychophysical and personal well-being as that state of harmony for which we can use the words of the philosopher Benedetto Croce: “Aesthetic, intellectual, economic and ethical values ​​and disvalues ​​have various names in common language, beautiful, true, good, useful, convenient, just, exact, and so on, which designate the free unfolding of spiritual activity, action, scientific research, successful artistic production”. And so the welfare of children was concerned for the first time in the International Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989 (Convention on the Rights of the Child, in the English acronym CRC); the following year the African Charter on the rights and well-being of the child (or minor) was signed, in which the combination of “rights and well-being” was highlighted right from the title of the document. Also worth mentioning is the Charte du Bureau International Catholique de l’Enfance “Pour chaque enfant, un avenir” (Paris 2007), in whose paragraph “Supervise the development of the child in all its dimensions” we read: “His psychological well-being is also essential.”

So, how can we contribute to the true well-being of children?

Psychiatrist Paolo Crepet warns: “Too much well-being generates malaise. It generates discontented pleasure seekers. It generates the discomfort of ease!”. In the International Convention on the Rights of the Child we speak of “the well-being of the child” (art. 9) or “his well-being” (articles 3, 17, 36) to underline that an individual or, worse, general or commercial “well-being”, but we must pursue “good” and “be” on the scale of the child, that minor person in front of us. The essential parameter is that indicated in the Preamble of the Convention, regarding the family: “[…] the growth and well-being of all its members and in particular of children”. We need to grow and feel good together.

Among childhood abuse, there is the so-called pathology of care, primarily hypercare, excess care. Using an impactful symbolic image, hypercure can be compared to a hyperbaric chamber, which is effective only in some cases and under strict medical supervision. Those subjects, however, sooner or later have to leave the room and face everyday life without hyperbaric oxygen therapy. In the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, one of the most used verbs is “ensure”, make safe. Security from “sine cura”, without worry: this is the task of parents and educators and, at the same time, an expression of their adulthood. Those who fall into hyper-care (for example, constantly telling their children “love, darling”, preventing every fall, cold or other, intervening in games or fights with other children, keeping their children at home or planning all their afternoon activities so that they do not lacks any opportunity) manifests, instead, its own immaturity which affects the children, making them “victims” of this parental and educational error, as well as in the case of neglect and indiscretion. In the art. 3 par. 2 of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, a very specific indication is given, “to ensure the child the protection and care necessary for his well-being”. Otherwise, one of the conditions provided for in the art. 19 par. 1 of the Convention: “any form of physical or mental violence, harm or brutality, abandonment or neglect, ill-treatment or exploitation, including sexual violence”. Those situations referable to articles. 570-572 cod. pen. “Crimes against family assistance” (just as PAS, parental alienation syndrome has been recognized as an offense, pursuant to art. 96 paragraph 3 of the Civil Procedure Code, and not as a clinically verifiable pathology by decree of 9 March 2017 of the ninth civil section of the Court of Milan).

Paolo Crepet warns: “The worst possible gift has been given to children who have been given everything.” In the art. 18 of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child says “raise” three times: it is the parents’ main duty not to give, but to raise (“raise towards” and, therefore, make it grow). One of the possible etymological meanings of “life” is “activity”, a way of being in the world typical of animal beings, as opposed to plant beings. Educating, therefore, must be educating to do and to get busy: educating to freedom and gratuitousness.

The scientist Carlo Rubbia (Nobel Prize for Physics 1984, son of an elementary school teacher) states: “I am happy not to have been spoiled. I consider it a misfortune to have privileges in childhood. My childhood was tough, I didn’t know well-being and I find that being born in a situation of healthy poverty is the best baggage that can be given to a child.” The measure of the parents’ giving and doing is provided by the adjective “necessary” of the aforementioned art. 3 par. 2 of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child. “Necessary”, “what must be, for something to be or be done”, and the “best necessary” that can be given to children is oneself: one’s time, one’s listening, one’s hands, one’s example . Doing together, being together: fewer gifts, more reproaches; fewer toys, more games; less technology, more time; fewer objects, more subjects; less exaggerations, more experiences.

The pedagogist Pino Pellegrino recalls: “Today we try to sweeten everything: the coffee is decaffeinated, the tuna is so tender that it can be cut with a breadstick, the “sofficini” triumph, the car is “comfortable”. And you can see the fruits: crumbly boys, with the grit of boiled fish; kids who live at 5%, closed in the damned triangle: refrigerator, sofa, television. It is an absolute duty to react!”. “[…] the right of every child to a sufficient standard of living capable of guaranteeing his physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development” (from art. 27 par. 1 CRC). Taking care of children’s development, not only physical but from physical to social, from being individuals to becoming people every day.

Pino Pellegrino adds: “Parents who are too soft are those who prepare children similar to those ice cubes which, as soon as they take them out of the refrigerator, seem solid, but immediately melt as soon as they touch the lukewarm. Parents who are too soft should not be left alone: ​​they must be helped!”. In the International Convention on the Rights of the Child (art. 24 letter f) it is envisaged to “develop preventive medicine, parental education […]”, both necessary for the psychophysical well-being of children also in order to prevent increasingly widespread disorders and pathologies (from nail biting to eating disorders). “Parental education” not in the sense of a specific course, but of a common path, of parents and otherwise, in light of that solidarity referred to in art. 2 of our Constitution. Parents must educate but, at the same time, be educated and be educated, as the goal is the same for everyone: life, the life that begins, the life that continues.

The psychologist and psychotherapist Fulvio Scaparro explains: “Teaching must therefore precede development, taking into adequate consideration those abilities not yet developed independently by the child, but which he is able to bring out with the guidance of the adult. If this does not happen, due to the renunciation of educators, parents or teachers, teaching does not affect the child, but rather abandons him to himself, with an unexpressed development potential. A serious loss not only for the new generations, but also for all of us.” In particular, the child has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion and parents (extensively all educators) have the right and duty to guide him (and not replace or override him) in the exercise (and not only in the ownership ) of this right (art. 14 CRC). Parents often do not worry about the development of thought and consciousness, considering them secondary to health (just listen to the honeyed language, or even worse, that they adopt towards their children or notice other attitudes that are questionable to say the least). Thought and consciousness are beneficial to health, they are part of health. Life needs fresh blood, new thoughts, young thinkers and thinkers.

Fulvio Scaparro adds: “Children who grow up prematurely and parents who demand too much are the protagonists of a society enslaved by success and the thirst for profit. But belittling the value of childhood means forming immature and immature adults.” The necessary, natural and essential gradualness of a child’s growth is also inherent in our Constitution: development of the personality (art. 2), full development of the human person (art. 3), childhood and youth (art. 31). Loading children with grandiose expectations, making premature choices for their presumed good (including the generalized advance in school starting from nursery school to 2 and a half years, nursery school age), putting them in competition or in an inappropriate comparison with the others can cause inconveniences that manifest themselves even in mature age, precisely because we get there loaded with ballast and without the right tools. Like fruits picked ahead of time and placed in the refrigerator, they are not tasty and lose their properties.

Even the pediatrician and pedagogist Marcello Bernardi declares: “The thought of being able to avoid your child all the battles, all the sorrows, all the disappointments, is a crazy thought, because life is not like that. In fact, it’s very different. Life is about fighting.” “States parties recognize that every child has an inherent right to life. States parties undertake to guarantee to the highest possible extent the survival and development of the child” (art. 6 CRC). Life is also survival (literally “living above”, that is, continuing to live after and beyond adversity, opposition, various forms of death) and development (literally “unfolding, ordering entangled things”) and children must be provided with the tools to cope with this, “to the highest extent possible”, no more and no less.

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