WE all want the best for our children whether they’re eight or 28.

That desire to help them, protect them and try to make their path in the world easier is a natural parenting reaction. But, how far is too far?

The current American scandal about wealthy parents – including some Hollywood names – paying large amounts to ensure their children get into the best universities and colleges may sound extreme. It is, however, not very far away from UK parents’ manoeuvres to try to get the same sort of results for their children.

Many parents pay high annual fees to give their children what they feel is the best education while others move into the catchment area for the best local state schools. These have both long been normal behaviour, as has church attendance for those educational establishments demanding it. We believe this is all perfectly acceptable. Parents may sometimes aggressively push their children to achieve. It’s a fine line between active encouragement and pushing because children do often need the former to get ahead.

Now, some experts are warning against what they believe is a dangerous trend of parents doing absolutely anything to stop their children experiencing failure. In America, they call it “snowploughing your kids” – clearing the way ahead for your children under all circumstances – and it can begin almost at birth.

Some enthusiastic parents will put a child’s name down then for the school of their choice. They may place too much emphasis on homework and study and even go into school, demanding special treatment for their child or an explanation of any failures.

Does this continue when they’re in work? Do you then ring up your child’s boss and complain because they haven’t got a promotion or a raise? When does the snowploughing stop?

Such behaviour, it is believed, may mean that children grow up struggling to cope with basic tasks and ordinary problems that life throws up. In other words, children need to experience failures and adversity.

They develop resilience, learn how to solve problems, appreciate individual successes and learn from their failures.

This is how life is and how we can all develop into rounded individuals. Whether we succeed in life by other standards – wealth, achievement, public profile – is another matter.

Not all that is down to which school we went to or whether we faced problems in our early or later lives. Some of history’s greatest men and women had poor starts in life in every way but they used these experiences to achieve, turned desperation into determination and just got on with life.

By cosseting our children – giving them too much money, underpinning their education in every way, making them feel that they are innately extraordinary and don’t have to work for success – we do them a dis-service. They need to make mistakes, to acknowledge that others are better, cleverer, and just try to be the best they can be.

As Oscar Wilde succinctly put it: “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.”