af am boy on errand smaller

Part 2: When Is a Kid Ready to Run Errands?

We have several psychologists working on a white paper addressing this very issue right now: What age are kids DEVELOPMENTALLY ready to, say, walk to the store, or to school, or to the neighbor down the block to borrow a rake?

Brain, body and consciousness-wise, kids are ready to understand rules and act responsibly by age five, or maybe even four. (Let Grow co-founder Peter Gray concurs.)

But brain development alone does not mean kids are ready for the “real world,” because they need instruction and experience as well. So, if you want your child to learn how to cross the street, you can’t just say, “You’re five. Goodbye!” You have to teach them to look out for cars and pay attention to the “Walk” signs, and make themselves seen in the crosswalk – all that stuff. So it’s a combination of age PLUS instruction and experience.

And the instructor doesn’t have to be you. It can be a family friend, an older child, a babysitter… Just someone who knows how to conduct themselves safely on an errand.

Proof of concept: Here is a 6-year-old testifying in favor of the Reasonable Childhood Independence Law in South Carolina earlier this year. (Scroll down to watch her in action. The law didn’t pass, but we are hoping it will this coming year. You can help get these laws passed in YOUR state. Click here.)

And if you’d like to learn more about child development and errand-readiness, here you go, including an anthropological explanation of what can happen if you DON’T let kids start helping out at a young age.

So let ’em help!

2 Responses to Part 2: When Is a Kid Ready to Run Errands?

  1. ClemenceDane June 22, 2022 at 4:23 pm #

    I was biking to school at age six. My Mom was completely responsible for her family’s cow and chickens by age five. In the morning she milked the cow, then let it out to pasture. In the early evening she had to walk out into the fields and find the cow and bring it back to the barn. Every morning she got up on her own before the rest of the family and gathered all the eggs from the henhouse and fed the chickens. Age five! She and her sister were also allowed to walk a mile to the store by themselves. Her sister was a year and a half older.

    When I was nine, my parents divorced and I started taking a two hour train ride every other weekend by myself to visit my father.

  2. Resident Iconoclast June 22, 2022 at 5:07 pm #

    Well, ya know…. In 1958 the SCHOOLS actually taught these safety rules to kids, because the schools actually expected elementary school kids (specifically I mean second and third grade, 7 and 8 year-old kids) to walk back and forth to school. Today, they’d call the cops and CPS and rat you out for child neglect. Rather than laugh at them, the judge would take your kids and maybe send you to jail..

    Oh, and the other thing. We expected people in the community to help educate the kids about safety. That lady next door, some helpful stranger. Other peoples’ kids! Today, talk to a stranger’s child and you’re automatically a “pedophile.” Then again, a vile, disgusting segment of our population now has labeled all people who do not support a certain person “pedophiles” and child traffickers. I think it should be physically dangerous to call someone that name without any provocation.

    So it’s simple, parents! It’s YOUR job. The neighbors won’t help. The schools will have you arrested. When your kid is 14 and has no idea how to leave the nest, it’s YOUR fault. The psychiatric nut cases who tell you what to do won’t be anywhere to be found.

    Not so funny how, in one person’s lifetime, being a parent has turned into a criminal act.