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Hope for The Anxious Generation!

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Read Time: 3 minutes

The Anxious Generation,” by Let Grow Co-Founder Jonathan Haidt comes out today. It is a great read — and a great inspiration.

As is Jon himself! After hearing him talk at school in Manhattan, Larissa Romans decided she was ready to have her 5th grader do The Let Grow Experience that Jon’s book recommends. That’s when kids do something new, WITH their parents’ permission but WITHOUT their parents, IN THE REAL WORLD. They can walk the dog. Take a bus. Make a meal. Schools can assign The Let Grow Experience (all our materials are free). Or parents can do it on their own, as Larissa and her daughter, pictured above, did. Larissa wrote to Let Grow:

Why I Let My 5th Grader Walk Home in Manhattan

As a child, I remember begging to peel oranges with a knife like my older sisters. I wanted to be a big girl. I do not see much of that in my little girl.  

As a toddler, she was more carefree. She climbed on everything. As she grew, I noticed that any time some unfortunate event happened she’d cry and say “If only I hadn’t…” or “I shouldn’t have…”

So Larissa asked Aviva if she’d like to walk the half mile home, unsupervised, with a friend (another fifth grader). Aviva said yes — even though the week before she’d literally asked her mom to buy her “The Worst-Case Scenario Handbook”! Here’s how Aviva’s first Let Grow Experience went — in her own words:

What Happened When I Walked Home for The First Time

On Thursday, February the 22nd, I walked home from school for the first time with a friend alone. I was nervous, I kept looking over my shoulder thinking someone would come up to us, meanwhile my friend was talking and laughing, he didn’t seem worried at all. Even when we were crossing the street I looked at every car, van, bus, and bike thinking something would happen. 

I think some of that has to do with my grandma watching the news, every time I visited there was a kid getting kidnapped by walking alone, or a shooting, or a boat that sunk. 

None of this happened of course. I didn’t expect it to. I was just looking at all the things that could go wrong and I have to say I came up with a lot.

The Only Scary Thing

The only “scary” thing that happened that day was an old man saying, “pew pew pew!” with his hands looking like a gun.  (I concluded that either the old man was drunk, or he was daydreaming he was in a war, maybe he was, who knows.)

In the end we were fine, got to the house, did homework and played a game.

A few days later I did the same thing, same friend, same path the only difference is that I wasn’t as scared, yes, I was looking behind my shoulder time to time but this time I was laughing and talking and had almost the same excitement as my friend had the week before. — Aviva

The One Thing That Conquers Anxiety


What conquers hypothetical worries and ruminating? REALITY. That’s why The Let Grow Experience is so transformative: Anxiety — fear of what COULD happen — gets replaced by reality: What actually DOES happen.

The Anxious Generation makes four big recommendations for rewiring kids. Three have to do with phones: Get them out of the schools, keep kids off them till 14, no social media till 16. But the fourth recommendation is to give kids back some independence, free play and responsibility IN THE REAL WORLD.

You and Your Kids Can Do it Today

Doing The Let Grow Experience helps everyone lean into #4. It rewires kids AND their parents! It’s simple. It’s free. It’s here for the taking. Parents! Schools! Counselors! If you would like to replace kids’ anxiety with a sweet, wonderful realization like, “The only difference is that I wasn’t as scared” the solution is simple: ACTION BREAKS THE CYCLE. TAKE IT!!!

Larissa And Aviva Romans

Aviva and her mom, Larissa


  1. LLon G says:

    Reality is truly the great calmer. I had a similar experience this afternoon on a more adult errand. I was nervous due to circumstances and negative stories, but it turned out to be the nicest, friendliest errand of the afternoon.