• Parent Genius
  • Posts
  • đź’ˇ Lack of independence driving depression and anxiety?

đź’ˇ Lack of independence driving depression and anxiety?

Hello Geniuses, and congratulations to last issue’s winner of the Little Unicorn Indoor/ Outdoor blanket.

It’s just two weeks until Halloween. In the US, the most popular candy will once again be Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Google predicts that Barbie will be the most popular costume. (Amazingly, Spider-Man is the only super hero in the top 10 and Taylor Swift doesn’t appear until number 22.)

Would you like a chance to win the Genius Product of the Day?

A 2-pack of Genxa, a Tylenol alternative without the added junk, is up for grabs. See details below. The winner will be notified 48 hours after this email was sent.

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.

Daily Inspiration

“No matter how far we come, our parents are always in us.” - Brad Meltzer


Lack of independence driving depression and anxiety?

kids in the woods

A new paper in The Journal of Pediatrics says a decrease of independent activity is causing the the long-running decline in children’s mental health.

The paper says the “primary cause of the rise in mental disorders is a decline over decades in opportunities for children and teens to play, roam, and engage in other activities independent of direct oversight and control by adults. Such independent activities may promote mental well-being through both immediate effects, as a direct source of satisfaction, and long-term effects, by building mental characteristics that provide a foundation for dealing effectively with the stresses of life.”

The correlation between children’s decreased independence and increased anxiety and depression is hard to ignore. The researchers link the two trends by proposing decreased independence reduces children’s internal locus of control. Essentially, saying that decreased independence makes children feel like they have less control over their own life, which in turn drives depression and anxiety. They propose that more time to explore, engage in healthy risks, and solve problems would increase feelings of self-control.

Related, the authors proposed a connection to “self determination theory” which says that people are happier if they’re able to live according to their own desires, instead of being driven by outside forces. Increasingly scheduled and supervised time is decreasing children’s self determination.

These explanations certainly feel intuitive, even if it’s hard to concretely link theory to the data.

Notably, this paper doesn’t explain the more dramatic surge in childhood depression and anxiety that started about a decade ago. So, there is certainly more than one thing contributing to children’s decreased mental wellness. We’ll explore the roll of other suspects, like screen time and social media in future issues.

If you found this interesting, consider forwarding it to a friend. If you got this email from a friend:


When is a kid old enough to walk around the block alone?

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.


A Tylenol Alternative, Without the Added Junk

Children’s Tylenol and most of its generic alternatives include some pretty suspect additives, like intense artificial sweeteners. Though it isn’t life or death, it is nice to avoid that stuff, where possible.

Genexa Kids’ Pain and Fever Reducer provides the same dose of acetaminophen, without the added junk. Right now, it’s actually cheaper than regular old Children’s Tylenol!



  • If humans continued to grow at the rate they do in their first month, how tall would they be by 20 years old?

  • What language do babies learn faster and easier than others?


  • The average four year old asks about 400 questions a day. We can’t help but wonder, “why?”

  • The average one year old knows about 70 words but regularly uses fewer.


Siblings can be very different.

What'd you think of this issue?

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.

Links to products in this post may generate a commission for Parent Genius as part of Amazon or another retailer’s affiliate program.