Are Kids Today Wussy?
Are kids today wussy? Joe De Sena thinks so, and he’s got a point. In an era when everyone receives a trophy just for showing up, we are not pushing our kids to be their best. He writes in his New York Times bestselling book, Spartan Up, “Our theory is that children inherently want to push themselves, that this is their natural state of affairs…Unfortunately, we push them in the other direction. They gravitate to the couch at an age when they should be drawn instead to fresh air and sunshine…So during the years when lifelong habits are formed, kids today become more sedentary and less active, which harms everything from their health to their self-esteem.”
According to a 2005 study in the New England Journal of Medicine, due to the steady rise of obesity, American kids are not expected to live longer than their parents. There are lots of reasons for this: processed foods, video games, a life filled with computer screens and not a lot of time spent riding bikes or playing tag in the park. But how, as parents, do we combat this?
The short answer is expect more, which can be good advice for adults too. Spartan Up is mostly a book about a philosophy that is counter-intuitive to today’s common lifestyle choice, which is the path of least resistance. Instead he offers that you should challenge yourself constantly both physically and mentally.
The book’s author is the co-creator of the Spartan Run obstacle courses, which he created as a way to inspire normal people to get off the couch and start getting active. There are different levels of difficulty for each event based on your fitness level. The Spartan Sprint is a 3 mile run with about 15 obstacles (like climbing rope, crawling through mud pits and scaling walls,) the Super Spartan is 8+ miles with about 20 obstacles and the Spartan Beast is 13+ miles with about 25 obstacles. There are also Death Runs that take two days to complete (for really crazy people) and Spartan Kids Runs which are a 1/2 mile – 1 mile courses. (I just did my first Super Spartan Run with my husband and some friends from my bodybuilding team and it was a blast.)
He writes that the races are designed not only to be fun, so you can feel like a Navy Seal for a day, but also to mentally challenge you and reveal where your weaknesses lie. And unlike many races, there are consequences for failure: you have to do 30 burpees (which is a jump squat into a push up) if you can’t complete an obstacle. Obstacles are kept secret and change from race to race on purpose, as obstacles in life (like job loss or a car accident) are unexpected events that have to be dealt with sans preparation.
He wants people to take away from his races and his book that by choosing the difficult path you will gain self confidence, a greater feeling of gratitude for what you already have, and the idea that you can overcome anything you set your mind to.
De Sena truly practices what he preaches. He does adrenaline junkie type endurance races constantly, like one held in Quebec in the dead of winter where temperatures are 30 degrees below zero. By page four of the book’s preface, I actually said aloud, “he’s crazy.”
And he’s tough on four his kids too. They do two hours a day of kung fu and are only allowed to watch cartoons in Mandarin so they learn another language. When I read that the neurotic inner parent in me thought, “I knew I should have loaded the Rosetta Stone on my computer!”
I’m not as intense a person as he is, but his work ethic does appeal to me. Recently I applied it to my child rearing. My husband and I are currently working on a flip house and the kids come with us. Normally, I just let them watch videos in the corner while we work.
Not yesterday. I made the kids help me clear the backyard by filling buckets with rocks and carrying them out front. They complained at first, so I said, “Spartan Up, kids.” By the end of the day the yard was done and they felt really proud of their accomplishment. Plus, they were so tired they fell asleep immediately, so it was a win for me too 😉
Spartan Up is available in stores now. Here is a link: Spartan Up. FYI – I received no compensation for this post, only a copy of the book for review. All opinions are my own.
What do you think? Are today’s kids wussy?
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