Before every child was issued a smart phone, kids used to go out and explore on their own. Instead of watching other people create and have experiences, they would have their own.

When kids get out of the house, they either get with their friends (or sometimes go it alone), and head into an adventure.

It’s not always an amazing, movie-worthy adventure. Sometimes something small or minor happens. Sometimes, it’s not really memorable at all.

But it’s the sum of all these experiences – the conflicts, little victories, tiny defeats, attempts to talk to others, the unique, seemingly meaningless happenstance – that together, make up a foundation upon which we draw for courage.

Before phones, kids knew they were great because they had a lifetime of unique, individual, personal experiences that they could call their own. They had things no one else did. Kids didn’t need to be constantly told they were powerful or unique. They had a sense of it because of what they had seen and conquered, or because of what they had overcome.

Now, it’s more difficult to get kids away from their phones. They’re sharing the same memes and missing a lot of the opportunities that life presents to have a unique and potentially life-altering personal experience.

In absence of those small, personal challenges that let each of us know we’re ready for life, parents and teachers resort to telling kids how great and capable they are. Because unfortunately, they don’t have the personal experience to know it for themselves.