— Here’s a nice note about a great show. Read it, watch it and then I have a proposal for you:
Dear Free-Range Kids: Thank you for your efforts in helping kids regain the freedom they once had. This is a very worthy cause.
I don’t know if you’ve heard of this, but I wanted to bring your attention to a Japanese TV show called “My First Errand/ Hajimete no otsukai.” You should be able to find a few episodes online with subtitles. It’s been running for 20 years and it features young children, typically aged 2-6, who are secretly recorded when they’re sent out on their own to complete a small task. It is incredibly empowering and encouraging to see how capable these little people are. It has changed the way I see kids.
I wish we had a society which supported kids’ independence. Some argue that Japan is different because it’s so safe (which it is), that it’s more densely populated (also true), and that we couldn’t do this in Canada/America. But I believe the biggest difference is attitude. Attitudes towards what is considered safe and what children are capable of is the biggest factor in enabling or preventing kids from experiencing the freedom to grow and learn. You can see in the program that community members watch over or help the kids, but they don’t usually intervene. Kids are also taught from a very young age about how to cross the street (the universal way in Japan! We need such a tool.)
I wanted to share this with you because, as a parent of a toddler, here is something positive!
Thanks, Megumi, in Canada
Thank YOU Megumi. I went to YouTube and found this delightful segment. I can’t quite figure out how they filmed it without the kids noticing, but I wonder if there’s some way some of you readers might want to do something similar with your kids. Film them succeeding as they make their way in the world. This could be such a great thing for others to see! In fact, it reminds me of my show, World’s Worst Mom, where I encourage nervous parents to let their kids do things like walk to school or play in the forest. When the kids came home, full of pride and adventures, the parents’ fear pops like a bubble. In its place? Joy. – L