As I walked through the streets of Cusco, Peru last week, I noticed so many young children standing on the curbs of some really busy streets. There were some tiny little, probably 2 year olds out there at night while their moms swept out their shops. I kept wanting to grab them out of harms way, but after a while I realized they weren’t in harms way at all because they had already learned enough street smarts to be safe.
And it reminded me of how uber-protective we are with our children here in the USA; never letting them out of our sights; constantly engaging them in adult-supervised activities. Parents tell me all the time that their kids don’t have to do chores because they are too busy with schoolwork and activities. Parents of college-bound teens won’t let them work at college because it would be too much. Are you kidding me?!?
6 year olds in Peru cook dinners for the entire family. I saw young kids working in the marketplaces, selling trinkets alongside their parents. I’m not suggesting we go back to having kids work in sweat shops like the turn of the last century, but I am accusing parents of coddling their children with the result of keeping them dependent and powerless.
Expect more from kids; see them in their highest light; allow them to stretch themselves and challenge themselves out in the real world. Give them the unsupervised down time where they can learn street smarts like we did a generation ago. And for sure start to value street smarts as much as book learning and select sports teams