As Recently as 1979, A First Grader Could…

Hi Folks! Just saw this wonderful child development reprint,  courtesy of writer Christine Whitley on a blog called ChicagoNow. She reprinted it from a series of books published in 1979, just one generation or so ago, called, “Your ___-Year-Old.” Each book provided a little checklist of  the milestones the average blank-year-old would have reached.

So, for a six-year-old, in addition to having a couple of permanent teeth and knowing left from right, the book asks:

Can he travel alone in the neighborhood (four to eight blocks) to store, school, playground, or to a friend’s home?

What a reality check! Can we all pause to remember that the very thing that terrifies so many parents today — a simple walk around the neighborhood — was not something reserved for kids age 10 or 12 or 15 just a generation ago? It was something that first graders did. And presumably those first graders got some practice as kindergarteners!

So when parents gasp at the idea of their kids crossing the street, walking to school, or playing at the playground unsupervised (!), kindly remind them that this is not a mission to Mars we’re talking about, it is a mission the average 6-year-old could handle with aplomb back in 1979.

You might even add that this was back when the crime rate was higher then than it is today. Or just shut up about the crime rate and let it sink in that they are treating their whatever-year-old as less competent than a first grader. — Lenore

351 Responses

  1. In celebration of this marvelous reminder, all of us should expect something more of our kids (and ourselves) today – let them do something that yesterday might have given us pause.

  2. I’d love to read the entire series. Off to look for it now.

  3. Heather, she’s probably talking about the books by Louise Bates-Ames, and they’re wonderful. I find them to be some of the absolute best parenting books I’ve ever read.

  4. I was JUST thinking about this yesterday. When I was in first grade, I remember walking home from school in a complete rain storm in which the wind blew my little rain hat off of my head. Nobody was there to pick me up. A woman who was a counselor at my school (though I didn’t know her personally) stopped and asked if I wanted a ride home. I told her yes and showed her the way to my house. I recall my mother was angry that I’d gotten in the car with a stranger! And, yet, she hadn’t come to get me. Not that this is a good example, but shows how much independence we were given at that time. (I was six in 1971 actually). This all came to mind as I picked up my six year old at her school with every other parent in the neighborhood. I remarked to my husband this past weekend how it’s awful that we never see kids out and about in our neighborhood–riding their bikes or playing. They all stay right in their own yards. There doesn’t even seem to be any inviting of other children who are right across the street.

  5. So after reading the article to me it seems academically we are expecting TOO much but life skills no where near enough… where did it all go so wrong????

  6. I would love to let my almost seven year old and almost six year old walk home from school. The school has forbidden it. If your child is not in the 5th grade, they cannot walk/ride bikes home alone (even with another sibling).

  7. Wow! This makes me really worried about what 6 year olds will be like 30 years from now! My prediction is their mothers will still be spoon feeding and bathing them, but they’ll be able to do long division!!! The part about being able to try to copy letters was pretty funny, in my sons first grade class last year they were writing short stories on their own already. There was obviously more of a focus on taking care of yourself and less on academics in the 70’s. I spoke to my son’s first grade teacher last year, she started teaching first grade the same year I was in first grade (1982-83). I asked about changes she had seen, and she told me that the first graders now are doing the work the third graders used to do.

    My son would have been fine except the teeth part, I’m not sure how that really plays into first grade readiness? My son didn’t get any baby teeth until after his first b-day and didn’t loose his first tooth until 7 1/2, he was zooming around the neighborhood alone on his bike with a mouthful of baby teeth :)

  8. @ Kristen That would bring out the rebellion side of me. I would drive up every afternoon pick him up in my car and then promptly have him get back out and walk. Now the school can do nothing, you have picked him up, what you want to do with him after that is your choice!

  9. @Nanci and Kristen: I am sure that policy is waaay more about school liability than the safety of the kids. Frankly I think it’s silly. I do love that idea of picking them up and then dropping them right back off, though. That’s really clever!

  10. I love it! My oldest son is six now and I’m seriously considering giving him more run of the neighborhood. He has had the run of our (very large) yards since he was four or so, but now it’s starting to be pretty limiting for bike-riding, etc.

    The thing that’s holding me up is partly the lack of sidewalks, (though there IS plenty of grassy sidebar) and the fact that people just don’t really drive carefully through here. I guess they think they’re out in the country, but there are lots of houses and little kids here.

    Hell, I very nearly got run over the other day walking with the baby in a stroller. Idiots drive through here like it’s the Dukes of Hazzard. Ugh.

    Guess I gotta muster up some faith that the kid can be aware of his surroundings and knows what he’s capable of. Still scary!

    One thing I am NOT worried about is kidnapping or “pervs” though, so thanks Lenore.

  11. @Nanci: I love that idea! I think I am going to do it next week (we’re going out of town for the rest of this week).

    @Kaleete: I’m sure it has to due with liability, but in the school handbook it states that “due to child safety…” They are just trying to shift the blame.

  12. I WAS 6 years old in 1979 and I was allowed to ride my go cart anywhere on our 800 acres that I wanted to, sometimes, miles from home, and my cousins and I (none of them older than 8) pilfered wood and tools to build our awesome tree forts. Mom always sent me off with a PB&J or a leftover biscuit with bacon (which didn’t kill me because it wasn’t kept at the proper temperature), a canteen of water, and the warning to “watch out for snakes”.

    In spite of her “neglect” (sarc), or maybe because of it, I survived childhood, one deployment to Iraq and three to Afghanistan. Thanks Mom!

  13. I want to add my recommendation for this series of books by Louise Bates Ames. They are my go-to recommendation to the parents I work with.

    By-the-way, I walked 1/2 a mile to and from kindergarten after the first day of school and I was four! Still, I never let my daughter walk the same distance to school. All fear based.

  14. Four to eight blocks? I guess I’d want to know how big the blocks are, because in my neighborhood, 8 blocks would be a couple of miles. I could see some 6-year-olds doing it, but I can see others where the mom would be pulling her hair out even in 1979. But if the blocks were small city blocks, I could see it.

    My brother and sister were little in those days. They most definitely went 4+ blocks alone by the age of 5 (to walk to school, babysitter, etc.). When I went to KG at 4-5 it was only about 3 blocks, but included crossing a main (big city) street and a couple other streets. By 6, I walked to the playground and the library, which were further away. After my mom went to work when I was about 6.5, if I was sick, I had to walk about 10 blocks to my mom’s friend’s house to be babysat.

    Of course, in those days, they had crossing guards on the main city streets before and after school. I haven’t seen a crossing guard in a long time.

  15. I was six years old in 1973. While I frequently got in trouble with my parents for blowing my boundaries once I started riding a bike, those boundaries were pretty much a 4 to 6 block distance away, and anywhere within my trailer court. My kids wern’t allowed to walk home from school until 4th grade, but could walk with a sibling. But they have busy streets to navigate (albeit with a crossing guard and a walk light).

  16. I forgot to mention: getting to school meant crossing a major highway and intermountain train track that saw 3-400 car trains at 60 mph.

  17. We are demanding more of our kids academically and less of them socially and independently. And it’s wrong. The pressure kids feel to excel so early is nuts, while they don’t know how to go to the store to by a loaf of bread. What good is it? Will they all be company CEOs by the time they are 22? No. But do they need to know how to take care of themselves? Yes, every one of them.

    My son is in 4th grade and his school accidentally sent him home on the bus last week. (We had signed paperwork for him to take the morning bus but they got confused.) I was shocked that they didn’t require a parent be there to pick him up…and my guy just walked home like it was no big deal. Thankfully, my husband was home that day because normally we would both be at work. I suspect that if no one were home he’d go see a neighbor (although they might not have been home, either). I’m not sure what he would’ve done then…hopefully stayed around the house until someone got home (and hopefully but less likely done his homework). No matter what, I was really proud of him.

  18. This is not a checklist for a first-grader. This was one of the criteria the book said would help you decide if your child was ready for KINDERGARTEN! This is a pre-kindergarten developmental milestone!

  19. Now I must ask myself whether I’d let my own kids walk to school right now (eldest is in KG – turns 5 in October), if it were within walking distance. I do believe I would, but not before going though several practice runs and spying on them a couple times after that, LOL. Together, they would be fine. Alone, my eldest is kind of a wuss about certain things. I can’t believe how long it’s taking her to feel confident about going into her classroom. Then again, I was terrified of my KG teacher, so . . . .

  20. What I want to know is WHEN it changed. Because it changed not only in “our” mind but with the authorities and schools etc. like Kristen sadly pointed.

    Ok, maybe I also want to know WHY it changed but I think it’s harder to uncover…

  21. I love parenting books from the 70’s in your Wonderful 4year old it says that your child is now ready to run small errands like delivering cookies as long as there are no busy streets to cross. Next time you see one at a garage sale grab it you will love it.

  22. What a great reality check. My brand-new middle schooler is walking home from school this year and is home alone for 1-2 hours before I get home from work. Thanks to this site I have had the courage to face both my fears and reactions from other parents to do this for my son. I regularly have to turn down offers from other parents to drive him home with “No, I want him to do this. It is good for him.” But he has a cell phone and texts me that he is leaving school and arrived home safely and we live in a nice area will little crime.

    I am happy to say that it HAS been good for him. Each day he has managed to arrange (on his own) a walking buddy for at least part of the walk home. He completes his homework before I get home, has a snack, sometimes plays a little. He told me he LIKES it – he feels more grown-up.

    And just yesterday when he got home he noticed the empty trash cans out front. So he brought them in. Without any prompting.

    OK. I know this new chapter is still in the honeymoon phase and I am sure my tween will succumb to moments of irresponsibility again, but right now it feels like we are making great strides and I am finding that being a better parent sometimes means letting go. Can they really, truly impress us with their accomplishments if we have done it all for them?

  23. This list really shows the stark differences that occurred in parenting in the last 30 years or so. I was waiting for the bus with other kids without adult supervision for grade 1 (I walked by myself to kindergarten since we lived close enough).

    I think the reason it was expected that a 6-7 year old could walk short distances alone back then is because it was expected that they would be capable walkers having had plenty of experience and teaching from their parents. Parents, from what I see, just don’t walk anywhere with their kids very much anymore. Kids are shuttled from their living rooms to their organized activities with virtually no time to explore their own streets.

    My oldest is just getting to the age when he might be prepared to go short distances by himself, but, I’ve been training him plenty about the rules of walking and playing outside. This is the part that I think many parents don’t understand or unwilling to accept. It wouldn’t be fair to send a kid outside without taking the time to show them how to manipulate the streets and sidewalks safely. I’m outside with my kids all the time playing on the driveway. Sometimes, it seems like we’re the only family on our street, but gradually, we find those other kids in the neighbourhood who want to join us. I guess fun is contagious.

    Full disclosure: I love organized sports and other activities and think they’re great for kids. I just think that free time to explore and play self-organized sports is probably even more important.

  24. Walking to school is a particularly hard issue because it really does require community participation.

    It was much safer for a 6 year old to walk home because there were other kids who were older doing it too. If they fell, wondered off, got distracted, etc., there were other kids around to help.

    We all used to walk home and even if you were not walking “with” other people going to your neighborhood, they were still just up the sidewalk or behind you. Even if you weren’t “friends” you can be assured that everyone watched out for each other. (I can beat up my brother but you better not touch him!)

    So now if you fight the good fight and write letters to make it so YOUR child can walk to school, you still have the issue of him/her walking without other kids around. I guess we can only hope to motivate other parents to let their kids join but that the default position is driving makes it a much harder fight.

  25. Love this–used it and linked you on Slate’s XXFactor today.

  26. What an incredible resource this blog is. Love this post… So glad I’ve found this site!

  27. When did schools gain the authority to ban students from walking home?

  28. My 8 yr old has been walking to school with friends for more then 1 yr now(sometimes by himself if he was late leaving) and now my 6 yr old is wanting more freedoms, so he figured out how to get it by himself! He asked me if when we were walking to the grocery store if he can take a different route then me and the baby, so I walked down the alley and he took his scooter on the sidewalk. He beats me every time lol, as if that’s very hard when he has a scooter and I am pushing a stroller :P we take both routes regularly so he knows them both by heart. He is out of my sight for around 2 mins, probably less but feels like much more lol.

  29. Sigh. Just last week I was reprimanded by another parent for allowing her first-grade son to ride home on his bike without an adult – a familiar three tenths of a mile from my house to hers, on a sidewalk the entire way, in our leafy, upscale residential neighborhood, with my third-grader as an escort to boot. It’s so dangerous! she cried. I apologized and agreed to escort him myself from now on, as I’ve done many times before.

    I can’t help but think that the greater danger lies in her son being twenty pounds overweight with a mouthful of cavities, eating junk food and playing video games for hours every day after school. People fear the wrong things.

  30. I for sure was walking down the road to my friends house (busy road) and riding my bike in the subdivision behind us by the time I was 6. I belong to a “stay at home mom” group and they are horrified when I bring up these ideas or explain about the current crime rates compared to when we were kids. They don’t believe me and they all think I’m nuts! I think it’s nuts that at 3 yrs. old they still don’t let their child play in the next room by themselves!!!!

    I also want to add something funny… I found my favorite childhood book and have been reading it to my daughter who is 3. It’s called, “Popcorn” by Frank Asch. It’s no longer and print and hard to find… My husband and I decided it’s no longer in print probably because it’s about a little bear who’s parents go out to a Halloween party and he’s left home alone. He in turn invites his bear friends over for his own party… In the end they make (on the stove) and eat too much popcorn and they all get sick. The best part is… in him being home alone. He cleans up after the party and puts himself to bed and his parents wake him up to give him a present of…. popcorn! This scenario would never happen today! I loved this book as a kid and still love it today! I hope I can instill the beauty of this story in my child!

  31. My son will be 5 on 9 Sep. He missed the school cutoff for kindergarten by 2 weeks, so he’ll get to go next year. It turns out, the school district lines are such that he will have to ride the bus to school instead of attending the closest school, which is only 3 blocks away. I found out that the bus stop rules include the following: kindergartners must be accompanied by their parent or guardian (over 18) to the bus stop each morning and wait until the child is safely on the bus. The parent or guardian must also be at the bus stop to pick up their child each day. The bus arrives at 7:30am and returns at 1:30 pm. I work from 8 to 5. How am I supposed to accomplish this? Not to mention the bus stop is only 2 houses down from mine.

  32. I was born in 1970, so started first grade in 1976. My mom dropped me off in the mornings, but I walked home in the afternoon. Even had a 5th grade boy carrying my book bag by the end of the first week. LOL! We only lived about 3 blocks from the school, and there were no streets to cross since the school, playground, and ball field all run on the same side of the street as my house. Across the street, though, was an old man who used to take a lawn chair out to the road and sit and watch the kids play on the playground and ball field. We were all scared of him, although he was completely harmless – just bored and lonely. None of us ever talked to him, and I regret that to this day. I imagine he had wonderful stories! You couldn’t see his house from the street due to the overgrown bushes and I guess he couldn’t see out the window for the same reason so would go sit down at the street.

    There were several neighborhoods in our “free roaming zone.” We could go to any neighborhood as long as it was inside of the square, which was bounded by four major highways. In 5th grade, we moved less than a mile away, but outside of that zone. My parents allowed us to cross the one highway at a redlight and continue to go play on the old playground and visit old friends. We thought we had so much freedom, having essentially doubled our roaming zone to include the new neighborhood.

    At age 15, I got a car and was actually allowed to drive without a license. I could go anywhere in town (and was sent on errands often) as long as I stayed in town, was home by dark, and didn’t “get caught.” I knew “don’t get caught” meant being extra careful and attentive while driving, which was actually probably a good thing if you think about it. At age 16, my range was about a 5-county zone and the “by dark” rule was lifted. Check in at dinner time and be home by 9 during the school week, midnight on the weekends. At age 17, I was allowed to go anywhere in the state as long as they knew where I was going and I called when I got there (collect from a payphone back in those days.) Even as free range as I like to think I am as a parent, I’m not sure I’m going to allow my daughter those same freedoms. Looking back, they seemed excessive, yet we handled it well (and this was before people were sue-happy looking for a quick, easy buck and long before you could call for help with a cell phone). We were, for the most part, good kids. We had our share of mischief and fun, but weren’t hoodlums. And, I attribute a lot of that to the freedoms (and responsibilities) we were given. We knew a screw up meant those freedoms would be taken away and we didn’t dare risk that.

  33. Amazing. And timely. In Elizabethton, TN, THIS WEEK, police are threatening to charge a mother with “child neglect” because – horror of horrors – she allows her 10-year-old to ride her bike 1 mile to school. On a wide residential road.

    Details here: http://bikewalktn.blogspot.com/2011/08/arrested-for-riding-bike-to-school.html

  34. Lately, I have been getting my parenting advice from the Ramona books. I remember when I read them as a child, I felt like Ramona was just like me and now I am reading them to my children. Ramona’s mother walked her to school on the first day of kindergarten, then she and Howie walked by themselves every day after that.

    Now my son is entering kindergarten. The school has a rule that if an adult is not waiting at the bus stop for their kindergartener after school, the child cannot get off the bus. The child will be taken back to school and the parent will be called to pick up their child.

  35. I was on my own a lot as far back as I can remember. My mother sat outside with me and waited for the bus on my first day of kindergarten but after that I was left to my own devices. I walked home from first grade on more times than I can count and the school wasn’t a few blocks but about a mile away and across a freeway. One time I walked home in the winter with about a foot of snow on the ground (and this was from my second elementary school, about 2 miles from home) and when I got there no one was home and I had forgotten my key, so I went to a neighbor’s house and they gave me food and dry socks. I would go for long walks on my own without telling anyone, even after dark occasionally. It might have been unusual, even for that time, but I knew how to get home and my parents’ phone number. Previous posters are absolutley right. It’s about teaching your children appropriate boundaries and the things they need to know to explore those boundaries, not to keep them fenced in both physically and mentally.

  36. @Bill Hobbs, in Houston a mother was recently charged with felony child abandonment for making her misbehaving 10-year old son walk the remaining mile home, after having had to pick him up from school where he had gotten into trouble.

    Felony child abandonment.

  37. WOW about the 10 year old riding a bike alone.

    My kids started school yesterday and my 10 year old son is a “line leader”. He collects the youngest bikers/walkers (one being his 5 year old sister) and helps them throught the sign out procedure and with their helmets, bike locks, etc. This is all done by the kids. They do it beautifully.

    I thought the point of parenting was to work yourself out of a job. How can this be accomplished if children are in a constant police state?

  38. On the academics vs life skills issue: My MIL is a kindergarten teacher and has been since her youngest started school. More and more during the school year she watches kids who are incapable of (imaginative) play, self directed activity and basic if-then thought processes- but every last one of them knows their letters, numbers, etc. Their parents are so busy pushing academics that they fail to realize that children learn important skills from free play. Those skill are not only necessary for independence but also *future* academic success. What good does it do if little Johnny can read at three if he can’t muster basic reasoning skills (necessary for every academic subject) at 17?

  39. Around that time I was 5 or 6 on the east side of Buffalo. Around the age of 5-6 I was allowed (forced? ;) to go 1 block north and 3 east to the playground. I had to come back to check in every hour or two. At that time I was usually given a treat and drink and then sent back out for another round.

    I also walked 6 blocks south by myself to catch the city metro bus to school starting in 1st grade. I would have been 5 going on 6. Most kids hung out at the stop 4 blocks up but I usually preferred to wait alone. This was rain, sleet or 2 ft of snow only to arrive at school, find out it was closed and travel right back home on the next bus.

    I was lucky in that the cut off was Dec 31st back then and I was able to start kindergarten at 4 with my Dec B-day.

    I was an only child till 13. By time my 3 sisters came around I was a “family bus driver” not because they weren’t allowed to go some where but because the new house was in a nowhere-from-here subdivision. I always flt bad for them to miss out on what I felt privileged to have had the freedom of mobility that I did.

  40. I have a serious question for the FRK community. What do you do if you have coyotes running around your neighborhood, both day and night? I’ve always let my kids play outside, but the coyotes are making me nervous. What if they get rabies? Do coyotes gang up on kids?

    Usually I’ll see a couple of coyotes a day, so far never more than one at a time. They are bold enough to hang out in our garage and on our porch.

  41. oh gosh, the only reason I don’t let my seven-year-old walk to the school bus stop by himself (two blocks and one major intersection with traffic lights from home), is that I fear that someone would alarm child services, and they would take custody from me and place him in an orphanage (yes I know that’s not what these places are called today). As a single mom, I feel that here in Canada, I have to be constantly on the lookout in order not to arouse suspicion of bad parenting. It’s bad enough that I have an active boy, but apparently horrible that I’ve been sending him to sleepaway camp, following his wish, since he was four years old, for one week every summer.

    It is sooo hard to empower my son to be independent and self-reliant, when at the same time I live in a country where single-parenting is faced with sooo much prejudice, and I have to face constant criticism.

    Luckily his school’s psychologist agrees with me that he is perfectly normal. Other than his teacher, who had him assessed by said psychologist every other month, without my knowledge, because she is convinced he is both veeery slow and veeery disturbed.

  42. Interesting contrast. My 7 year old is only permitted to go two blocks by herself. I was permitted to go 6-8 blocks at her age, but here’s the difference – I’m still living where I grew up. But when I grew up, there didn’t use to be this busy road running through the middle of the neighborhood with fast cars zipping by and no crossing light to get across it. That road, in fact, was a dead end, not a busy thoroughfare. Thus, she isn’t permitted to go past that road alone at age 7, whereas I was. I don’t think it’s just more overprotection that has led to this generational shift in autonomy (though that’s an element); it’s also a growing population, more development, and lots, lots more traffic. I think the checklist for academic skills is more fitting for Kindergarten, not just now, when we push academics earlier…but even when I was going to Kindergarten. These are pretty sad low-level skills for 1st grade entry – being able to state where you live, repeat one sentence, count to 8, and color more or less in the lines. I’m pretty sure even in the 70’s, I was expected to have more academic skills than that by the time I entered first grade.

  43. I just “google mapped” my route to school as a child. It was 13 minutes, and 0.68 miles, but included cutting through the highschool’s football field, through an outdoor mall, and crossing a 4 lane collector road.

    I was allowed to do that after grade 3. And in -40 degree weather. I did have a school bus pass, but if I got detention then I was expected to make my own way home. By the time my brother was in Gr4 we were at a school farther away from (1.08 miles, 21 minutes) and he got frost bite walking home when he got detention. My mom complained to the school and the general attitude was “to bad, maybe he’ll learn not to misbehave!”

    That would have been about 1984.

  44. @SKL- We have coyotes here. My neighbor across the street had her AC unit worked on and they found fresh rabbits killed and buried (they like to bury their kill and return for it.) We’ve also had two confirmed sightings (one scratching on a door for a female dog inside that was in heat and another chased a cat.)
    This said, these were for sighting of single coyotes. My kids know this (and also know how to behave around wild life- we have all kids of animals here- bears, foxes, etc.)
    To quote my husband, “They are carnivores and kill small animals, they are more likely to get the annoying chihuahua that barks incessantly behind its electric fence across the street than any one of you. That is if they are out in the daylight. They should not be.”

  45. @Brian: nobody walked home with me. I was the only kid who lived in my direction. I was in K, in the ’86. AND over the summer, just before K started, a black male in a big van, pulled up to my street corner (where I was playing with my 3 year old brother) and told my brother and I to get in. A blonde-haired little girl opened the sliding door on the side, and my little brother started to climb in. I was pretty much paralyzed with fear. Once my brother’s foot stepped down off the curb, I snapped to it, snatched his butt and practically drug him all the way into the house (our house was the house on the street corner).
    And my mother STILL felt it was safe enough for me to walk 1.5 miles home every day, by myself. Because I had shown that I was not only able to NOT get in a car with a stranger, but I was also able to keep my sibling from doing it.

  46. I grew up on a farm and went to one-room country schools for kindergarten & first grade. Because of time issues, my parents usually drove me to school, but I almost always walked home (2-4 miles) by myself. I would walk the first 1/2 mile or so with the other kids from school, but after I passed their homes, I was on my own. I remember closely examining roadside flowers, animal tracks, butterflies and other bugs flitting around in the ditches along the roads. I had fun, never got lost and learned all sorts of life lessons (orienteering, responsiblity, etc) during those walks.

  47. I also thought they would not putz around town in the daylight, but they do. I work upstairs in front of a window, and I see them walking around lazily, sniffing things, sitting down for a rest in the street or driveway or in my backyard. Last Saturday they came into the backyard while my kids were playing out there, and an adult was out there too.

    So these critters seem to be acting strange compared to wild critters. If they acted afraid of people, I’d be less concerned.

  48. For months, I’ve been suggesting that my kid walk/bike/whatever the seven houses down to where the other 5-year-old boy lives, to ask him out to play. My kid has been kind of shy about doing that … and I didn’t know if the other mom was going to appreciate it.

    This weekend, I was weeding, and he was complaining that he “didn’t want to play with the girls” (we have two girls on either side of us, a bit older than him). I say “go down the block and ask A if he wants to come over and play,” not really expecting the kid to do it. 2 minutes later I look up again, and kid+bike are gone. I look down the block to where he is parking his bike in front of A’s house and walking up to the door.

    Although I do think it freaked A’s mom out a bit, and the kid stayed there to play instead of bringing A back.

  49. My 5yo started kindergarten today. She was so excited. Both me and my husband (since he took the day off, having missed this stuff with our other kids) waited with her at the bus stop. Only because it was the first day. We have to call the transportation director to give her permission to get off the bus with her older siblings so we don’t have to go out there every afternoon. I have no intention of waiting for her after school every day. Even if she didn’t have older siblings (in 3rd and 4th grades this year) she would be fine walking the block and a half home.

    There’s a ton of other kids at the stop, most living on our street and they all walk and the only parents there are for kindy kids and one 1st grader (who was smaller than my kindergartener). She’s also allowed to go on walks around our loop (our street just goes in a big circle) on her own and she walks to and from her friend’s house down the street and around the corner (on a culdesac). And her friend, also in kindergarten, walks to our house on her own all the time. I love this neighborhood.

    I know my 5yo could handle walking to and from the park (2 blocks away) and to other friends’ houses but I’ve decided to keep her boundaries just our loop for now. My older kids are allowed all over.

    I’ve also been saying for years that they expect too much academically of kids but no where near enough in the life skills department. I once asked on a parenting site when other kids started using steak knives and was told not until they were at least 11 and no knives at all before 7 or 8. Really? My 5yo has been buttering her own bread since she was 3 with a butter knife and at 5 is allowed to use a serrated steak knife. She could completely dress herself at 3 (including socks/tights and shoes), use the bathroom without help, brush her hair, make a sandwich, get herself in bed at night, take a bath on her own but I was considered negligent because she couldn’t recite her ABCs or count to 50 yet. And she’s not reading yet so I’m still lacking even though she can handle responsibilities most 10 year olds can’t.

    On the topic of free-range parenting working… the other day my almost 9yo daughter and her friend (who is about 8, I believe) were off playing at the park. She came home in tears and my other kids started yelling for me to come look. She had wiped out on her bike at the park. My brave, strong daughter got up after her spill, her friend helped her bandage up her knee and then she rode her bike home while going into shock. She was covered in blood all down her leg and arm. She was just a mess.

    But I was so proud of her. She could have sat there screaming until an adult came and “rescued” her but she didn’t. She picked herself up and got herself home (with her friend’s help) and when she got home she didn’t break down and start screaming. Instead she started cleaning up the wounds as I watched and tried to convince her to sit down before she passed out (she was white as a sheet and shaking like crazy). She didn’t break down until Daddy came in to see how she was, then she started crying.

    And she’s been super brave every day as we clean and rebandage he wounds (which were pretty deep on her knee). She got hurt and knew what to do to get home. Win for preparing kids for the real world, not bubble wrapping and hovering over them.

    Of course, if I mention this on normal parenting sites I’m berated because she should have never been put in the situation to have to get herself home after being hurt. I should have been there to help her immediately. But this way she learned that she can depend on herself and she is capable of taking care of herself.

  50. @Jen: “And she’s not reading yet so I’m still lacking even though she can handle responsibilities most 10 year olds can’t.”

    Huh? O is not reading yet either and he starts kindergarten on Monday/he’s been in an official preschool. Kids should learn reading during kinder, not before kinder. Unless they want to learn before.

  51. Or Tuesday, as that may be … ;)

  52. I walked myself to elementary school every day – about six suburban blocks. Never seemed to be a problem. My parents did mention to me that if they ever sent someone to pick me up, it would be someone I would recognize.

    Curious thing, though – there was a girl in my class who lived halfway between us and the school. Every morning, her grandmother would walk with her to school. It always struck me as an odd thing; that, and the fact that her parents dressed her as if she were a porcelein doll.

  53. SKL, what to do about coyotes – we got a livestock guardian dog. Mostly to protect the ducks and geese, but also for the kids. It also helped the kids get over fear of being outside after the neighbor’s spotted a cougar. (Which, when it came, the coyotes left for a about 4 months.)

    Do read up on them before you get one. If you have kids under 7, they say you shouldn’t have one (but Akita’s in Japan were traditionally used to babysit kids…) but we found with a shock collar that we were able to get our “puppy” to not treat the kids like other puppies (and play rough.) The dogs are puppies until age 2, and like work to do. I think they are happiest if they are guarding mammals – goats are great if you want to get an additional pet for your kids. Also, don’t get a mixed breed, unless it is mixed with another livestock guardian dog. You don’t want a dog that tries to protect AND herd your kids. Our dog is an Akbash/Akita mix. Our neighbor has a bunch of of Pyrenees and Maremmas that she does as a rescue. These dogs were bred to be like the English sheep dog on the Bugs Bunny cartoons. Sleep until the coyote comes up then bash him on the head. (Well, scare him off.) They are extremely smart, and independent. Kind of a cat mentality – it is hard to keep them from doing things they want to do. And smart too – ours knows how to nose open all our gates – we had to put additional locks on them! But, my kids love the dog, cuddle with him, climb on him (they don’t react much to pain) and play with him. And he is good at alerting us when the coyotes are around, which happens fairly often.

  54. I was a 1st grader in 1979, I did walk about 1/2 mile to school so this article made me smile. :-)

  55. My KG kid started last Thursday. Yesterday she brought home some work sheets she’d done in school. One of them required her to match initial lowercase letters (in printed words) with the appropriate capital letters, and vice versa (e.g., r => Robert, Ruth, and Ron but not Tara or Mary). There were 12 separate exercises on this page, requiring children to evaluate a total of 60 words.

    I thought that was kind of optimistic for the first week of KG.

    This morning as I was dropping off my still-timid 4yo, I was in a hurry to get her in there so she wouldn’t miss breakfast. So I said, “I’m going to hang up your bag and jacket this one time, even though it’s your responsibility.” Her teacher said, “yes, now that you’re in KG, you have to do a lot of things you didn’t have to do before.” Except I’ve always required my kids to hang up their own stuff, since they started preschool at age 2.5. My kids are also the only ones who are expected to do their own check-in on the security pad. If they didn’t need a hug, I wouldn’t need to get out of the car at drop-off.

    I also noticed that most of the KG kids can’t write their names legibly. It seems a little odd to expect them to match r-R (etc) 60 times at a sitting when they haven’t even learned to write their first name. But maybe I’m just clueless.

  56. Cheryl – I have a sister who breeds German Shepherds, and she’s made that suggestion many times, LOL. Don’t think I want a dog, though. I am too busy and my yard is too small. I live in a suburban city, near a national park. I know it probably sounds like the boon-docks, with all these critters running around.

  57. SKL, and others, yes they push too early with the academics. 2nd graders are expected to KNOW their multiplication facts…but I didn’t have to learn them until 4th grade. I was shocked that last year with my kinder son the new math program we had for our curriculum expected him to add up to 20 – the first addition lesson! I distinctly remember having a paper from the end of the school year my kinder year, and it was adding to 6. (My daughter in 5th grade had fraction problems that a teach told me would be found on the SAT. Didn’t feel so bad that we didn’t understand how to do them!)

    What it boils down to, is that the kids can be taught all the academics early, but for most it takes a lot of effort and time. And some who don’t get it like the others end up thinking that they stupid, or that the subject is “hard” when in reality if they just wait a year, two or three more, the kids can get it easily and with little effort. My daughter struggled to remember her multiplication facts each year grades 2 to 4. In 5th, she had it as well as I did in 5th, although I didn’t start doing it until 4th. And in 4th it only took me two weeks to get them memorized for the most part. My other kids, we are now doing things differently – slowing down, and doing the stuff when they are READY, not when society says they should do it.

    People tend to think academics are a race. If they are, then most schools are sprinting the kids ahead now, but it is a long race and they will be tired before they get to the end. I would rather be like the tortoise than the rabbit – slow and steady wins the race.

    A big part of why we homeschool is so that the kids can have time to be kids. To pursue interests and just have time to play outside. Not doing worksheets that serve no purpose. Not being pushed to do stuff that their brains are just not ready for.

  58. I was in elementary school in the early-mid 80’s and I remember walking the half mile home from the bus stop by myself. Where I lived, we really didn’t have to worry about crime, but we did have to keep an eye out for bears and moose. There were times when I was late getting home because there was a moose blocking the road. We would wait for it to wander off into the woods, and then continue on our way. When we got home, we would call my Mom, let her know we had arrived safely, and then either do homework, or go outside to play in those same bear and moose infested woods!

  59. SkL, well then how about a fence, possibly with electric wire? (Cow/poultry fence type thing.) A small dog barking can also help alert you to coyotes too, although as others have said, may end up being lunch. Other than that, encourage your neighbors to keep cats inside after dark, and to not leave out bowls of food and water for their animals, as that stuff smells and tastes good to coyotes too. And may be why you are seeing them in the daytime – because that is when people put out food. Although, next to a park, if there are bears around, everyone should know all that (but I know, people don’t always follow!)

    We actually are not far outside of town ourselves, and do not have a traditionally farm sized piece of land either. But, it is really best to not get the dog if you don’t have the time for it. (Why my neighbor has a bunch of rescues.)

  60. DH, I think Jen was being facetious. The academic expectations are out of whack, but we still expect them to be babies as far as life skills.

  61. The lack of other kids walking to and from school is one of the few things I dislike about our neighborhood school becoming a charter school. Almost none of the neighborhood kids got in, and the few who did are driven to school… which is ridiculous because it’s about a quarter mile away, and people park on our street to pick up their kids from that school. So I still walk mine, but they’re free to go as far ahead as they like, including snagging my keys and running all the way home ahead of me.

    The first graders, such as my son, are still released only to a recognized adult.

    Just to add to the worries of local parents, the principal announced to the kids just yesterday that some guy had been seen at a few local schools trying to get kids to come close to him for a picture, saying the picture would be better from up close. Obviously no one’s happy about that one.

  62. Cheryl, are you talking about a public or private school? I would be surprised if the public schools around here were requiring mastery of multiplication facts.

    I have one kid who is way ahead, so I am a believer in making opportunities available for intellectual growth. I hate the thought of her sitting in school all day and not learning one thing. I love the thought of my other child having the gift of challenge, and seeing what’s possible, even if some of it is a stretch goal for her. But, making kids nervous about academics will close their minds, not expand them.

    My kids’ daycare director promised me that they’d go easier on the younger kids. And, I noticed that at least half of the kids in the class are early entrants (turning 5 in the fall). So I’m not too worried, but that made me all the more skeptical when I saw that worksheet. Don’t they usually start KG by introducing letters and sounds? I mean, yeah, my kids are familiar with letters, but not all kids have them down before age 5.

  63. Story about which you should post:

    http://bikewalktn.blogspot.com/2011/08/arrested-for-riding-bike-to-school.html

    It appears there is no contact information on your site, so this seemedt the best way to pass this on. You should have a contact information page.

  64. @Laura: “Popcorn” was one of my favorite books as well! I’ve never heard anyone else mention it before.

  65. This makes me feel so much better, because I allow my 7 year old to walk our street alone and go to friends’ houses. I am sure my neighbors think we are horrible parents, and we just proved them right last weekend because my daughter had not come home by the time we asked. We looked for her for almost two hours, and none of the normal friends’ she visits knew where she was. So panic insued, all the neighbors got involved. Our next course of action was to go door to door. (I had told her she had to stay on our street). But, being so concerned and worried and having the neighbors involved and telling us we should call the police, we decided it had been long enough and we called the police. Well, right as the police showed up, one of the neighbors found her because his daughter knew of another friend down the street that we didn’t know about. So, anyway, it was a big to-do, and I’m sure we have provided the neighborhood with gossip fodder for the foreseable future. Normally I ask her which specific friend she is going to, and tell her to call or come home if she goes anywhere else. This time I only gave her an hour to be out and said she had to stay on our street. Obviously a mistake. We are taking steps to make sure this doesn’t happen again (like getting her a watch with an alarm and going back to her having to tell us which friend she is at). Anyway, my point is that I feel like all the neighbors are talking about us and how they just “knew” something bad would happen, etc. One lady told my daughter that it made her nervous to see my daughter walking down the street alone. We live in a subdivision in a suburban/rural town. It is very safe. The kind of neighborhood where you should be able to let your kids out of the house. We just moved here 2 years ago and being the “new” people, I’ve felt judged since the day we moved in. I hate it and can’t wait until the housing market comes back so we can get out of here. I never wanted to live in a subdivision, and I really regret it. I feel like I live in a fishbowl. I fully expect CPS to be knocking on my door any day.

  66. Jo – I can’t believe there are sleepaway camps that take 4-year-olds! Has your son always gone to the same one or tried multiple ones? I always wanted to go, but only got to try it out once, and not until age 13.

    Jen – does your daughter bring bandages with her to the park, or did they stop by a house nearby that had some? She did great taking care of that injury.

  67. I don’t know if I would let my 6 year olds go completely alone to school and back or the store at that age, since mine actually are a little delayed (I have a special needs child), but definitely by the time they are 8 they can handle it. And yes, some parents would not even let a 10 year old do that which is really shocking!

  68. I too just google mapped my childhood route to school. 0.7 miles. I walked every day from kindergarten on, in Denver, rain, snow, whatever. In high school, I took the public bus. But by 6th grade (which was ’79) I was taking the bus downtown on my own during every school break, or riding my bike downtown.

    A point I want to mention about the academics. While I do agree that they push too hard on getting the ‘right’ answers, there is so much more to learn these days! Since I was in high school, there have been so many scientific advances, and so much more history! DNA? Tectonic plates? None of that existed. And to understand that, one has to have a better grasp of math and chemistry and such. Also, history kind of went through Watergate, touched on Vietnam. Reagan was ‘current events’. So, the same 13 years (counting kindy), but lifetimes more information kids are supposedly responsible for.

    That said, I started kindergarten able to read. I loved to read! And, if the academics are being so focused on, I suspect it’s in better-funded school districts. A great many kids are certainly NOT experiencing academic success, particularly in lower income, poorly funded districts. My own son ended up leaving high school at 15. He was incredibly frustrated by a school system that expected a 300 page novel to be above his head as a sophomore, and found himself in a reading group in which at least one student was functionally illiterate. My daughter was told she’d NEED the Cliff Notes for ‘And Their Eyes Were Watching God’… sophomores couldn’t possibly understand the metaphors in the book. At which point she analyzed one of the more obvious metaphors, and was chastised for reading beyond the assigned 10 pages. Her great crime? Making her classmates ‘feel stupid’. So, in my opinion, we need to focus MORE on academics, but in the analytical, think about this stuff kind of way, not just the parrot the answers way that looks good on the standardized tests. Really. A 16 year old in honors 10th grade English isn’t expected to be able to read Les Mis? Or needs Cliff Notes? Good grief! I was assigned Tale of Two Cities in freaking 8th grade!!!

  69. I remember growning up in the ’70s and the envy I had when they announced the walkers at dismissal. I had to take a bus for 20 minutes and it seemed like forever.
    Now that same elementary school (my SIL sends her kids there) doesn’t allow walkers unless there is a written release (they strongly encourage busing) and the school has valet parking. Also, recess was nixed.

  70. I also believe in high achievement, don’t get me wrong. But if they were doing it right, wouldn’t actual achievement of school kids be increasing phenomenally? Yet I don’t see any improvement at all. And also, they hold back the kids who do have the ability to excel.

    I don’t really agree that there’s more out there for the average student to learn. Older generations had to learn multiple languages, memorize poems and the founding documents, read and compose at a much higher level of English mastery, understand astronomy, world history, world geography, and lots more. Today’s typical public school student may be briefly exposed to a number of things, but considering both depth and breadth, I don’t believe they come anywhere close to the knowledge they used to learn. (Granted, not everyone was expected to complete high school in older generations.) And without depth of knowledge and mastery, are students actually learning how to learn – which is the only way they can keep up with science in adulthood anyway? I mean, they didn’t teach about solar panels or fiber optics or even Excel spreadsheets when I was in HS, but I seem to have gotten by.

  71. Gramomster, if Reagan was current events for you, then DNA and tectonic plates were certainly known about. In fact if you’re under 75 these things were known before you finished high school.

    But a question to ask might be, do people not specializing in science need to know very much about that stuff at the high school level? I know even asking that question would generally be considered heresy, but I think one of the problems with elementary/secondary education is that we spend too much time on “fun facts” about science that aren’t of any real use unless the person is going to get the background in math and science to pursue them at a higher academic level. Nobody can actually *do* anything with plate tectonics or DNA until way, way past 12th grade. We should be spending more time in high school on principles that haven’t changed much since Newton and Priestley and Boyle. Certainly a nodding acquaintance with what DNA and tectonic plates ARE is important for any decently educated person, but there — I’ve just added about 15 minutes, not years, to the educational process to cover that.

    That said, I agree with SKL — there’s no evidence that pushing kids to be reading before they start kindergarten is of any actual benefit in enabling them to grasp an expanding knowledge base. It seems like the more we push for that kind of thing, the worse the 13-year outcomes begin. That’s correlation, not causation, but maybe it’s at least worth asking whether that should be looked into?

  72. Sorry, “the worse the 13-year outcomes begin”/”the worse the 13-year outcomes become.” Somebody should have taught me to proofread. ;-)

  73. Great test! However, unfortunately the trends seem to be going the other way — see for example this post about a case in Tenessee where the police have intervened against a mom who lets her fifth grader bike a mile to school: http://bikewalktn.blogspot.com/2011/08/arrested-for-riding-bike-to-school.html

  74. @pentamom

    And that’s why something like “are you smarter than a 5th grader” can be somewhat enlightening. Many of us probably had a lot of the same useless knowledge stuck away in our brains when we were in 5th grade … but we’ve long since discarded it.

    I was helping my parents clean up their basement in recent years, and going through the file cabinet in which I’d stored lots of stuff from high school. I found a whole series of essays I wrote on various events in Spanish history. I have no recollection of writing these essays. I have no recollection of ever studying Spanish history. In these recent years, I knew nothing about these events in history which at one point I’d done apparently some pretty deep analysis on. Which was actually pretty surprising to me, because I tend to be the type of person who keeps a lot of useless knowledge stuffed away in the dusty corners of my mind but accessible to the proper stimuli.

  75. DH, I don’t know about you, but I started getting stupid when I became a mom. I used to be an absolute wikipedia, LOL.

    But here’s a funny for ya. I have always been a nut about early childhood literacy. And I used to collect little easy-read books. I especially liked non-fiction that was broken down for a young child like, say, 2nd grade reading level, as I felt that reading should be relevant. My friend from another country used to ask me all manner of questions re “how does that work,” and I would have answers for everything from what makes cars go to what makes planes fly. She thought I was a genius, LOL. Then she asked me where I got all that information and I sheepishly admitted it was from kids’ books. She was very impressed that we have such kiddy books in this country!

  76. @Denny: yes, in France there are sleepaway camps that take 4-year-olds, and they are common for kids from age 5 and up. My son had been invited by the leaders of his summer camp program to come along for the week’s stay, when he was four. He turned to me and said: Mom, can I? And I said yes. So far, he’s been to three different places in two different countries (we are in Canada now), and has always loved his stay.

  77. How can a school tell you that your child is “not allowed” to walk home, even with a sibling? What can they do to stop them? Forcible confinement? If you are the parent and you say it is OK, how can they say otherwise?

    I was eleven in Junior High, and walked frequently to school more than a mile and a half away, along what we then saw as a busy street. This would have been in the mid-1980s. Nobody thought it was strange. The only reason my mum got upset was when we got into trouble along the way at the local arcade or doughnut shop.

    The assumption was that we were responsible for our actions. If we wasted money at the arcade, we’d get in trouble. If we brought home bad report cards, we’d get in trouble. If we fought at school, we’d get in trouble.

    Now that I’m a teacher, many years later, I see none of that attitude. When I caught some kids cheating on an in-class essay a few years ago, I was accused (by the VP!!) of being at fault because I “didn’t watch them closely enough”! Parents rarely accept that their kid is capable of even the tiniest bit of normal adult thought or behaviour. How insulting. I would have felt belittled and disgusted if I’d been treated like that as a kid.

  78. And FWIW, I’m big on kids reading as early as reasonably possible as well, but for a different reason — because reading is FUN and a great way for kids to entertain themselves! I love reading so much, that the idea of learning to read a few years later because no one bothered to teach me sooner would make me very sad for the lost years. Fortunately, this was not the case with me — I learned to read “on my own” with just a little guidance from my parents well before KG.

    But I also believe that kids learn at very different paces, and I believe there were some studies done in past years showing that by the middle of elementary school, kids who were reading before kindergarten did not, on average, outperform kids who learned to read later. (So we went through all kinds of grief because my older son wasn’t reading well by the end of his first time through first grade, and now he’s an honor student taking AP classes.) So I’m suspicious of the push for early reading *as an expectation for all kids* for two reasons: one, I think it pushes an expectation onto kids that not all of them are ready for, and two, I don’t believe it accomplishes what everyone thinks it will.

  79. I actually take issue with the argument that kids “average out” despite some of them being earlier readers. I think it depends on (a) what you define as reading and (b) what support the child has to continue developing at the pace that is right for her.

    First, being able to string three sounds together or recognize a handful of words is not necessarily reading. It might become early reading, or it might not. To me, a child can read if she can open a storybook and read the story with understanding and enjoyment.

    Second, obviously if you hold a reading child back and keep her with age-mates for years with no additional support, there’s a likelihood that she’ll stop accelerating and focus on something more rewarding, such as fitting in with her classmates.

    At the same time, there are “late bloomers” for whom it merely “clicked” later, but that does not negate the fact that kids who read early are probably on a high-achievement trajectory if you support their individual needs.

    I have a 4.5yo daughter who reads storybooks pretty fluently and with great interest. She’s ahead in other areas as well. There’s no way you can convince me that she is going to be “just average” several years from now. Not unless she falls on her head. But then, she has hundreds of books and we read together every day. I’m not leaving it up to her teachers to watch out for her. My blood is still boiling because she’s stuck in pre-K with a bunch of younger kids who can’t even hold a proper conversation with her.

    My other kid, however, is in KG and not yet reading. Not sure if it just “hasn’t clicked yet” or she needs more vision therapy or something else is going on. But yeah, I don’t want her to feel like an idiot just because some kids her age can read. She can do plenty of other things that her classmates (and some that her sister) can’t do yet.

  80. Regarding free-range kids in 1979, has Ms. Skenazy considered the fact that there were less people on the planet in 1979? I am a 63-yr-old grandmother, who was raising kids in 1979, and I can tell you that pedophiles grabbing children was a less frequent happening than it is today. One reason is people were less mobile (moving around the globe), and children were not a commodity around the world, as they are today, especially in Southern Asia. Back then, it would have been more the case to hear of a “funny uncle”, etc., but only occasionally. Certainly not human trafficking, as is heard of today. Our kids were raised in a city of 130,000, and neighborhoods were quite safe in ’79. Unfortunately, that is not the case today. Just recently, a three-year-old was grabbed from her front yard in a Missouri town. There is more of everything today in this world, than there was in 1979, and that means pedophiles as well. Please, dear young mothers, 30 and 40 somethings, DO NOT allow your children to be free-range!!! It is not safe to follow Ms. Skenazy’s suggestion, as she may not have considered that it is a different world today than when she was a kid…..and how would she? She was just a kid. At my age, I have seen the changes in our society, and it all comes down to more people on the planet means more problems existing. If the chicken coop is overcrowded, the chickens start pecking on each other. Also, I do not agree with her statement that crime rate was worse in ’79 compared to now. Not possible…….more people equals more crime. Only one solution comes to mind regarding our difference of opinion. Given the fact that we now have more news coverage today, I will concede that we may have not heard about child abductions back in ’79, as often as we do now. The same concept that dictates hearing about more diseases because of better diagnosis today, compared to the past. Aside from all that…..it is still best to not get too lax, when it comes to keeping tabs on your children. Ms. Skenazy’s ideas are all lovely “pie-in-the-sky” visions, but how would it feel to not have your child return home…..ever?

  81. SKL my daughter sounds like yours (really reading well before kindergarten – she actually read Amelia Bedilia to some of her new classmates that first day). Although I wouldn’t say she “averaged out” in that she was still in the “highest reading level” when she finished 4th grade, she was in her OWN reading group well ahead of the next best reader in kindergarten, but now she has several peers in her class also reading at her level (several above grade level)….does that make sense? Other good, but not necessarily early readers caught up.

    My son went into kindergarten with early reading skills (sight words, etc), but not reading. He finished 2nd grade well above grade level for reading as well. It clicked for him at the middle-end of kindergarten.

    Kids are ready when they are ready. Reading to them when they are young – often- is fantastic, but it will click when it clicks.

  82. By the way, five years ago, we left that city of 130,000 plus, due to the crime rate…….much worse now than in 1979.

  83. I think the danger to kids is often overstated. They might be more likely to get lost, but as long as they know the way and the most important aspects of public safety, I think it’s really beneficial for them to explore.

  84. @Sherry B of Ilinois- No thanks. I do not want to drink your Koolaid.

    As for your overcrowding analogy with chickens pecking each other, my free range kids don’t have these problems because they are not in a chicken coop. They play outside (the coop.)
    They are playing outside now with minimal adult supervision and are blissfully happy and will sleep their worry-free heads soundly tonight.
    They also will not need anxiety medications like it sounds like you need. Peace.

  85. I have a 14 yr old homeschooler who attends classes with other kids twice a week. The great thing is age doesn’t discriminate and so he can join the high school classes at 13 if he’s academically bright enough to handle it. He’ll be starting his 2nd high school year next week and tonight we all gather to meet our new teachers etc. A couple of kids are moving up into this grade who are also young but can probably handle it. the interesting thing is that one of the moms contacted me today and asked whether she should bring her kid along tonight. i replied that she should as the teachers explain what their classes will be like and what is required of them. She balked at this because her son wants to go to youth group instead. He tends to be irresponsible anyway as she does most of what he should be doing by now and I told her that as a high schooler, he should learn to put off what he wants to do and get there out of a sense of responsibility. All this to say, not only do many prevent their kids from tasting freedom but also they prevent them from learning what their responsibility is over their parents.
    This parent claimed she’d have to be on her kid in order for him to get his work done. I say ditch the hovering and let him learn the hard way! What’s she gonna do, follow him to college?

  86. Oh great we live in TN so I hope they don’t try to pull that not letting my kids bike or walk home from school stuff. I doubt they will because our subdivision actually backs up to the school and they have a walkthrough and other kids currently walk. Still if they do I am just going to have to get into my irate mode on them!

  87. Actually, SKL, early reading tends to average out at 3rd – 4th grade. That doesn’t mean that your child is not always going to be bright. But not every kid who reads before kindy ends up being above average. It has something to do with the capacity to memorize words. A cognitive specialist I know explained it to me at last thanksgiving but I can’t remember everything she said.

    Nor does late reading indicate anything. I didn’t learn to read until 1st grade. Not because I had trouble but because my kindy didn’t teach reading. I moved in 1st grade and they gave me an oral placement test. I got a perfect score and was placed in the most advanced classes. It took them about a day to figure out that I couldn’t read, although everyone else could because that school system taught reading in kindy. I was moved to remedial reading classes. By the end of 1st, I had caught up with my peers and was moved back into the advanced reading classes. In 2nd, I surpassed the class. In 3rd, I was reading the 5th grade books. In 4th, there were no more reading texts for me to read and they teacher just gave me novels. I was never not in the gifted program.

    It’s why I’ve never attempted to teach my kid to read. There’s no hurry whatsoever. She’ll either get it or she won’t.

    She is advanced in math. While many of her classmates are just mastering counting, she can already add and subtract up to 10.

  88. SKL, the curriculum is K12, a virtual school. I too believe in proper placement for kids – my oldest entered kinder reading, and left reading less (because the other kids weren’t good readers yet.) When we first started using K12 they had placement tests, which meant that a kid good in math could be ahead there, but at grade level for reading. They have done away with the placement tests which I feel is a great disservice to the kids, and the parents trying to teach the kids, as the program is academically more advanced than most states. We ditched the math finally because it was not a fit for my kids.

    But, that said, we started in CA public schools (in the failing district of the county) and are currently in WA (in a very good district.) Both expect that kids start mastery of multiplication in 2nd grade. Good teachers should be able to challenge all the kids in the class, even if they are at wildly different levels. That I started multiplication in 4th grade, well that was the average grade it was introduced. Some kids got pull out for reading or math, and it was introduced sooner. But for the rest of us, it was easy to absorb in 4th grade, where before we would have had to spend lots of time working to get it. Fact is, I didn’t have homework until 4th grade (and most of that I could get done on the bus home.) I was able to go home and do things that I wanted to do. My kinder daughter had homework that had no real relation to where she was at. It was given because parents expect a good school to give homework. So they did. Which is a stupid reason to give homework.

  89. @Lollipoplover,……So, you haven’t heard of child abductions?
    Playing outside….great! I was referring to Ms. Skenazy’s suggestion of traveling free-range, away from the home. If older kids are with a group,….great, but younger ones going off by themselves just is not a good idea. Go ahead with loving lollipops, just don’t get too lax on watching out for the kids. Our nation doesn’t have “Amber Watch” for nothing. Unfortunately, it became necessary. (The coop was an analogy for problematic overcrowding in the world). Your kids would sleep soundly anyway, knowing they have the security of watchful parents. It is the parents who need to be worry-free. So don’t let them go many blocks, or miles, away before they are old enough…..then you will be worry-free. Peace.

  90. Sherry B, you do not live in my neighborhood and I will not subscribe to your fear. I will allow my kids to do what I feel is age/development appropriate.

    At some point, my kids need to know how to take care of themselves. That means that they can stand in the line for the arm bands for rides at the carnival. They can go around the store on their own to get items that I need to buy. They can walk to their friends houses, even, (gasp) after dark. (It gets dark really early in the winter here in WA.)

    Last week we were at the county fair all week. My kids were showing ducks in the poultry barn as part of 4-H. Judges were walking around taking notes on cleanliness, politeness, interactions with birds and people. If a parent helped the child, the child got knocked down in score. My kids had to feed, water and clean their own cages. When they had barn duty they had to sweep the floor, put water in ALL cages, staple skirting if it came down, and sweep edges of all the cages to keep them neat and clean looking. Then, they could get out their bird and sit and talk to people and let people pet the birds. (Yes, I let them talk to strangers!) Oh, and to get wood shavings for the cages they had to go a block in one direction, and then to empty them, they had to go several buildings in the other. ALL ON THEIR OWN. Yes, while other people without background checks were there! My oldest is 11, the youngest is 6. I did not even make them walk together. The only issue that I heard that any of the kids, in any of the barns (about 8) had, was that one kid fainted due to heat and dehydration and went to the hospital as a precaution. No attempted kidnappings. No lost kids. No gang wars. No rapes, gropes or inappropriate suggestions. No one hurt or in a fight. Even with about 10,000 people passing through a day.

  91. D’oh! That should not have been a smiley face! It should have been the number 8! 8 barns of animals and kids with them!

  92. My daughter (age 8) went to a day camp this summer about 5 blocks from our house (across one busy street and partially with sidewalks and partially not). I was worried that the camp would have trouble with her walking by herself, since a lot of camps my kids go to are paranoid about adults checking the kids in and out. But I called the camp the week before and explained that I would walk my daughter the first day but after that she would be walking by herself. I was pleased to find that while they were a little surprised, they were fine with it. They just asked her to check in at the table where parents sign kids in and out and tell the person when she was leaving for home. She came back proud of herself and with tales of being the first person to volunteer for the camp talent show. Unfortunately the camp my son (age 7) attended the same week wouldn’t even let me drop him off in front of the building to walk in alone. I had to park the car and walk in with him to check him in.

  93. Is there any way to keep the number eight from being made into a smiley when you type it?

  94. Jennifer and Cheryl W, I think it might help to leave some space between the 8 and the parenthesis. Let’s try: 8 )

  95. Sherry B (“So don’t let them go many blocks, or miles, away before they are old enough…..then you will be worry-free”): Actually the first part of the sentence by itself is very good advice. However, we disagree as to what age that is. Plus, you will NEVER be worry-free. So, you drive your kids instead of letting them walk? Fine, but they are 6 times more likely to die in the car than while walking. BY FAR the number 1 danger to walkers is CARS. The number of car accident deaths to pedestrians (which itself is only about 15% of the number of deaths to car occupants) is more than 50 times the number of kidnapping-related murders per year. In other words, your child is safest walking on little-traveled roads and alleys, followed by walking on busy streets, and the most dangerous thing to do is drive your kid places.

  96. Cheryl W……. Where does a 4-H Fair compare to the author’s suggestion that kids should be free-range? What part of my original post even implies that kids shouldn’t be taught independence skills at a 4-H Fair? You are getting away from the original topic of the author, saying in 1979 kids were so much freer, and that they should be today as well. I was stating that things are different now……just the facts. No, not every kid in the nation has been grabbed! However, there have been reports of such things, right? I just said, don’t get too lax with the vigilance…..out in the open world. That certainly doesn’t apply to an organized event such as a 4H Fair. You put your own spin on what I was trying to point out with the author’s statements. The “Elizabeth Smart”, and other stories, do make one take notice. Stories we did not hear in 1979.

  97. Sherry B– more people does not necessarily mean more crime. The crime rate for violent crime in Japan is about 1/6th what it is in the US, except Japan has a much higher population density.

    Child abductions are not more frequent now than they were, however, they ARE more publicized. In my town (a semi-rural area), there was a child abducted in 1928. It got about two paragraphs in the local paper about how she was walking home from school and didn’t make it… when she was found, there was another small article. Also in my town, in the last year, there was a child who went “missing.” For four days there were articles on him and what was known about his last whereabouts and how to keep children safe. FOUR DAYS of articles… and then, a short blurb (maybe four paragraphs) when it was revealed that he’d spent the time at a friends house because he was mad at his parents. The point here is the difference in media coverage. Day after day, the front page of our local paper was about this missing boy. It makes it seem like the problem is bigger than it is. Conversely, my local paper gives only a paragraph every day or so to those hurt or killed in a car accident– because it happens every day that it has become common!

    Fear =/= fact. Just because you feel something is true does not make it so.

    BTW, if you turn off the TV, you’ll find the world a less fearful place!

  98. First graders can read, right? (I forget)

    If you can read street signs and competently cross a road by yourself, then you’re ok to walk around a town or city alone, in my opinion.

  99. @ Sherry B. – you hit the nail on the head when you commented on the fact that a 3 yo was snatched in Missouri. When you were raising your children, there were no 24 hour news channels, nor were the news agencies inter-connected as they are today. You got your local news(very local), and the national and international news. You would not have heard of the child being snatched in Missouri, or even as far away as 50 miles, much less when children are snatched on the West, or East coasts, or even Portugal, as you hear today. There are no more abductions today than there were then, the only thing that has changed is the constant in your face reporting of them. The news companies know that anything to do with children, and fear bring ratings. One of my favorite(sarc) headlines in recent years “Four children hurt when SUV rolls over”, not until you started reading the actual article did you find out that an adult was killed.

  100. I’m surprised in general on how we infantalize our children long into later ages. They’re not responsible for remembering their homework or cleaning up after themselves or, gasp!, helping with household chores. My SIL doesn’t require much, if anything, of her son, and then complains about how she has to do EVERYTHING. He’s 10 and doesn’t even pick up his dirty clothes off the living room floor without whining and then just tossing them in the direction of his room. The irony of it all is that my SIL also complains about her husband not helping around the house… but she’s raising another boy to be a slob.

    It seems to me (at the risk of starting a firestorm) that the delayed potty training in the US (not STARTING until after the age of three) is related to this belief that children are not capable of any responsibility or self-care. I’ve received a bit of flack already because I’ve begun potty training my son (now 14 months). I’m apparently “pushing” him into something he’s not ready for. Except no one can tell me how he’s “not ready” (and honestly, he rather enjoys sitting on the potty and reading books.) Then I’m branded with the worst of the worst– I’m juts being SELFISH for wanting him trained “early.” Uh, yeah, guilty since I’m really done with squirmy diaper changes and a pail of poop sitting in the house. When did a little selfishness on the part of parents turn into a cardinal sin? I feel that a little selfishness makes me a more interesting and happy person– I’m no good at martyrdom!– and it models to my son that a woman can be more than just a mommy.

  101. What little I remember about early elementary, in Kindy we learned letters. (I very distinctly remember dressing up as J for Junk!) And it was, I think, around 3rd grade that we really began reading and phonics education. I started school in 1986.

    I’ve read that the age students are reading is being moved earlier, but at the cost of play and socialization– skills kids are also being cheated out of at home, too. It also does very well for making a bigger divide between the haves and have-nots as the former group has more time to spend at home getting the child “up to speed” for the new demands of kindy, while the have-nots fall further behind… but I admit my bias in thinking that too much political shift is separating the classes, and it’s likely intentional but subtle.

  102. Most parents today lived that era. They know exactly what they/we all did back then when we were 6 yrs old. Which is what kills me, because they fear the very thing they enjoyed as children.

  103. You really can’t walk to my kids’ school, not even if you lived right across the highway. It’s on the corner of two intersecting two-lane highways. Maybe kids in the neighborhood directly behind the school would be ok, but I think this is definitely partly about public schools being bigger/more centralized than they were in our day.

    Cost-saving, probably.

  104. Though it really bites that my son rides the bus 45 minutes each way. Eek.

  105. I also remember that in K we learned to tie our shoes… when dd was in K-3 she wasn’t ALLOWED to bring tie up shoes because the teachers didn’t want to have to tie “30 pairs of shoes”. :/

  106. Thanks for this, Lenore.

    Today while at a meeting my 7 and 9 year old came to the reception area of the building I was in to find me – as the playground they’d headed for was under construction and they wanted to check with me if they could go to another. They knew exactly how to find me but by the time I got down there three very concerned adults were involved. As in you’d think my two kids couldn’t just sit quietly and wait! (and, just so you know, Yes They Can). I sorted the kids out and went back to my meeting. And as I took the elevator back up I wondered if those women thought I was an irresponsible mother (dads, my partner and I find, get let off the hook a lot more in general).

    But you know that quote, “What other people think of me is none of my business”? Well I’ve taken that a little further: “What other people think of my parenting is none of my business.” As far as I knew these women were only being kindly and helpful (if a bit over-fluffed up) and not judging. Maybe some WERE judging but, if they want to observe my kids’, my parenting, & my kids’ confidence and skills they are welcome to do so. And heck, they didn’t put a call into CPS or the police at least which I know – from this site – sadly happens too often and can cause good parents some nasty troubles.

    I decided to go about my day concentrating on my kids’ needs and my own, and I was kindly to the women involved because, why assume they were judging, you know?

    But in the meantime, it’s always great to know that yes, once upon a time we let kids live up to their capabilities… and there are still many grownups who support these measures.

  107. [...] Closing: It’s good to be CEO; follow-up on Steven Seagal and the tank; dumbing down; Neanderthal; did you know that “Red States” actually bleed tax money away from [...]

  108. When I was 5-6 I was climbing in barns, walking among full-grown cows, allowed to walk the fields with no one but the dog to accompany me, and learning to drive a tractor (steering only, obviously). I don’t prevent my kids from doing too much that they want to do, other than a stern reminder not to get too close to the neighborhood pond since none of them swim well yet.

    We live less than a block from the K-2 school. This year, I wrote a note for my first grader that he is allowed to walk home on his own. He is my third child, and this is the FIRST time that the principal hasn’t called to try and talk me out of letting my 1st grader walk home alone. Either she’s smartening up, or she knows that I won’t give in to her silly request. Funny thing is, I’ve actually had to monitor him more than I ever did the two girls as he is the one more likely to get into trouble on the way home!

  109. Sherry B, I am not “spinning”. You said “30 or 40 something mothers should not follow this free range”. I happen to fit that. You are saying not to let kids out. This was not “just” a 4-H fair, this was a county fair in an area with 300,000 people. 4-H was a small part of this fair. There were bands – Kenny Rogers and Blue Oyster Cult. There was rodeo, carnival, itinerant food vendors, and other staff as well as the general public. As I said, 10,000 people were going through a day…seems like there should be a few deviants in there, yet, they all behaved themselves. And, I did not stick around with my kids the whole time, I let them do what they needed to do without me there. At times, their father and I took off and viewed things on our own. I let them ride rides on their own. Most parents seemed to take off for the day and leave the kids 6-18 on their own, based on their own appraisals of the kids. Seems to me that if “something” were to happen, this would be a more ideal place for it to happen than on the way home from school with neighbors watching out the windows.

    Do we have crime in our area? Certainly. There is an element of gang mentality that the police have to deal with. Lets see, in the past year – there was a guy following women into the women’s room at the library and turning out the lights. (The women called or faked calling 911.) A police officer was charged with molesting two neighbor girls. There have been a some murders, a couple gang related and a couple domestic violence. There are reports of gang related stabbings on a weekly basis. A couple of weeks ago a guy was taking photos of kids who had left the sprinkler park and went to the library, and then was trying to feel the toddlers up. Enough to make people think – and yes, I instructed my kids on what to do, but in reality they were on their own a good bit.

    So Sherry, what exactly are you opposed to, if this wasn’t Free Range enough? Because Free Range is not about being dangerous, it is about instructing our kids and then allowing them to do stuff on their own. Was I not letting them do enough stuff on their own? Many other mothers were following their kids around the whole time, not letting them out of the barn on their own, not letting them go ride the rides on their own or with sibling or friend – had to be an adult there. And I was letting my six year old do this stuff, with instruction. Other parents, in some of the other barns, I never saw. I saw kids in the sheep and goat barn, but not so much parents. The whole 6 days. With kids the same age as my son.

  110. @Zozimus: They won’t release my children. They stand in line outside of the school with their teacher, and you either walk or drive up, show the teacher your child’s name card, then they walk the child to the car – or you walk with your child to where ever.
    No parent, and the kid goes back into the school. After 30 minutes they will call the local police.
    They can also ride the bus home. The bus has no problem dropping the kids off at the end of the block and driving away. But the bus is not walking/riding a bike home.
    It’s not like when the bell rings the kids just get to walk out of the school. It’s very, very strictly organized. Even after months of seeing the teacher, and the teacher knowing that I am the mother, if I don’t have the name card I have to go inside to the office, show ID, have it checked against the check-out list, and then go get my kids.

  111. “The “Elizabeth Smart”, and other stories, do make one take notice.”

    Hmmm. Wasn’t Elizabeth Smart kidnapped from her own bedroom while her parents slept down the hall? Should parents now not sleep? Or just not sleep in their own bedroom?

  112. @ Kristen

    That’s CRAZY!!! I hope schools like that are rare! I would very much like to know where you live! It’s completely insane!

    They just instill more fear with that! They make the parents conform to a thing that isn’t even in the law with threats of police calls! It’s insane!

  113. @SKL we have some coyotes, and foxes, around us and honestly I don’t give it a second thought. You may have more in your area than we do in ours? In terms of rabies, yes, they can have it, and if an animal bites someone and can’t be caught, slaughtered, and tested (you must kill an animal to find out for sure if it has rabies) then the person will need to get vaccinated against rabies promptly — unpleasant and perhaps expensive, but do-able.

  114. Kristen: Oh, my God! That sounds like they’re on compassionate leave from a prison every afternoon! Do they actually have the right to imprison your children like that? What would happen if you left a signed note with the office staff stating your preference for them to walk or bike home without accompaniment? Surely that would absolve them of legal worries? And the POLICE are called after half an hour??? For what purpose? Do they show up? Why? And what’s a “name card”? How long has the school’s policy been like this (i.e., insane)? My head is whirling…

  115. Cheryl W., After reading about your entire experience, including the pedophile crime in your area, my only answer is that you were lucky,
    …..this time. 6 years old?….alone,… with instruction, of course, …at a county fair, with 10,000 people. (Initially, I understood it to be a 4H fair only). When an adult can grab a 6-yr-old physically,…..instruction goes right out the window. Hopefully, your 6-yr-old was with older siblings, and not alone. By the way, I’ve heard that shin-kicking is always a good self defense move.

    To Rob W., In my original post, I stated that news coverage is far more prominent/saturated now more than it was in ’79. So, even though your reply is much appreciated, you are not telling me anything that I hadn’t already posted. Likewise, we hear of more sickness/disease, due to better diagnosis, than in ’79.

    To anyone else who may be even remotely interested…..Again, in my opinion, I could not agree with the author saying kids can be free-range, and with her statement that crime is less now than in ’79. The free-range concept would depend entirely upon the age of the kids, and the area considered okay. I would say adolescence on up, and prior to driving age, neighborhood only. With that, I mercifully end this discussion on my part, as it is getting to be a tired/boring subject. Good night, young ones……..Happy Parenting!!
    (In thirty years, don’t be too hard on your adult children, when they do things with your grandchildren, that you don’t agree with).

  116. @ pentamom
    Actually, my husband, who graduated in 1978, learned in school that the mountains were there because the weight of the oceans pushed the earth up. He was 30 and in college before he heard of tectonic theory.
    And, DNA has only been used in court for about 10-15 years. We certainly didn’t know about it in terms of lay knowledge in 1981.

    @SKL – I’m so with you on the different rates of learning. That was my son’s issue. He was so far ahead, across the board, and we got zero support for his need for acceleration/challenge. He left highschool as a sophomore who’d skipped 6th grade. Age 15. He took himself to the library every day for a year, his girlfriend also left school, followed shortly by another close friend. All three started community college on their own volition at 16 and 17 respectively, and all are now transfer students at University of Michigan at 19 and 20 respectively. I think the lowest transfer GPA any of them had was a 3.5. My son’s (now former) girlfriend sent me a thank-you on facebook for giving her a book on leaving school and taking charge of your own education, the book that got her parents to let her leave high school. She said if she’d stayed in school, she would probably not have learned to love thinking and learning, and would not be in college. Now she’s at one of the most prestigious schools in the country. Awesome! Super-capable kids can really have difficulty staying engaged.

  117. Sherry: it’s unfortunate that you think that Lenore’s statements are false. They are based off of fact. She can and has cited every single statistic that shows that crime is less. There’s been report after report that backs up this FACT. And yet… some people dismiss these facts, citing their own feelings and the media coverage. It saddens me that facts and data mean nothing to so many people.

    Here’s a link– http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/05/24/national/main6514022.shtml
    Lenore is not the only person reporting the FACTS that crime rates are down, significantly.

    That means the world is a SAFER place.

    Though you are absolutely right, being free range and letting a child have freedom means taking into account the age AND maturity level of the child. I may place the age lower than you, and I respectfully request that you allow me to do so without judgment and without legislation against it. In return, I will allow you to palace the age as high as you’d like without judging you.

  118. @Coccinelle: I live in Georgia. In a town that was just rated the 2nd best place to raise a family according to Family Circle Magazine. :) I’m not going to come out and say it in case someone were to “google” me and find me complaining about the school. I’ve got 2 in school, and 2 more that will be going there within the next few years.

    @Zozimus: I’m not sure how long they have had that policy. My oldest is only in 1st grade there, so this is our second year in this school. They call the police for a welfare check. Daycares here also do the same thing, but they only give you 20 minutes after closing.
    A name card is a bright green card that has your child’s teacher, grade, and name. That way they can go to that teacher, get your child, and bring the child to you. There is nothing I can sign. Supposedly by sending my child to the school I am agreeing to follow the school rules, yadda, yadda, yadda…..and they only have the best interest of the children in mind…

    There was this “friend” on my FB page that said how she was riding home on her golf cart (hint, hint about where I live) and came across one of her son’s friends pushing her bike along the golf cart path. It was at like 6pm, on a weekend. The girl had to be at least 7 years old. Well this “friend” took it upon herself to give the girl a ride home, which is fine, the girl knew her and the son from school. However, she slammed the mother (who she didn’t really know) for allowing the girl to ride around by herself “with all the crazy people” out there. And she went on this rant about how the girl could have gotten snatched, etc. And to my dismay, everyone agreed with her! They were all saying about how she “rescued” this girl from danger. And the girl had said she does it all the time, so obviously the mother is not worried. But I tried to tell this “friend” that it’s super safe here, and she “unfriended” me because I said that she should not be talking smack about someone who lets their child do kid things.
    Apparently I am the one in the wrong for not seeing what a wonderful person she is for rescuing this poor, unfortunate girl from certain death. *rolleyes*

  119. @DH–I frequent parenting sites with way too many know-it-all mommies. It’s been implied that Nora is “behind” because I leave reading up to the schools and that it’s negligent and reading should be the parents’ responsibility. I think they’re nuts. If I wanted to homeschool my kids I would. I send them to school to learn to read and write. She only did 1 year of preschool when she was 3 1/2. She can write her letters (knows the sounds of some of them), can count to like 80, knows all her colors and shapes and has been coloring in the line since she was 2 1/2 but since I didn’t teach her to read she’s going to be “behind”. According to the crazy women on one site.

    I think Nora actually would be reading right now if she had a 2nd year of preschool. I just don’t have the patience to teach anything. I was getting frustrated showing my 11yo how to use a combination lock (the one I had on my locker in high school) because she needs to know for gym. I’m sure Nora will catch on to reading real quick once school starts.

    @Denny–her little friend lives across the street from the park so she ran home and got some. I’m actually proud of both of them staying level headed. I’m not sure if there was anyone home at the friend’s house. She’s just as free-range as my kids. Sometimes it’s just her and her older brothers (who are teens) or just her at home. I guess they figured no adults were needed in the patch up job which I actually find kind of cute. They did it all themselves although as shocky as she was I’m glad she made it back to the house in one piece. I’m pretty confident, though, that if she started feeling light headed she would have stopped and lied down. She’s a smart kid.

    Her knee is almost healed already. She’s graduated from gauze and tape to just bandaids to cover the gashes.

  120. I just got here! Let’s take it from the top….

    Wow! This makes me really worried about what 6 year olds will be like 30 years from now! My prediction is their mothers will still be spoon feeding and bathing them, but they’ll be able to do long division!!!

    Not likely. These things go in cycles. We’ve been in a particularly overprotective swing, but I’m hopeful that things are returning back to normal – we have websites (more than just this one) that advocate for a more “old-fashioned” childhood, we have dystopian fiction written about overprotectiveness, we have articles and editorials discussing the subject – and with lively debate in the comments. All signs point to more freedom for kids, and when you add that to the bad economy and the continuing-to-drop crime rates….

    It’s so dangerous! she cried. I apologized and agreed to escort him myself from now on, as I’ve done many times before.

    Is there a reason you have to engage with this other parent? Like, is this your spouse and you have to take her opinions into consideration…?

    It turns out, the school district lines are such that he will have to ride the bus to school instead of attending the closest school, which is only 3 blocks away.

    Is there an appeals process in your area for this sort of situation? If the school near you is under maximum population, they may be able to make an exemption for your child.

    Do coyotes gang up on kids?

    In general, wild animals aren’t that dumb. But if they’re being fed (intentionally or not) and encourage to be around humans (again, intentionally or not), it’s making a bad situation for them AND humans. Which is not an answer, but….

    I know it probably sounds like the boon-docks, with all these critters running around.

    No, I believe coyotes are actually spreading in urban areas. Bit of a success story for them actually.

    2nd graders are expected to KNOW their multiplication facts…but I didn’t have to learn them until 4th grade.

    When I was a kid, in my area, it was third grade – but in speaking to other people my age I find that many of them were expected to learn their times tables in second. I think that, like so many things, this is regional.

    I actually have been working with the older niece on multiplication over the summer so she’s ready BEFORE school starts – but this is because she gets very frustrated with not knowing something, and it makes her happy if she understands things before her classmates. A little bit of extra effort in the summer pays huge dividends when it comes to homework during the school year.

    Since I was in high school, there have been so many scientific advances, and so much more history! DNA? Tectonic plates? None of that existed

    Except that we understood that these things existed long before the 70s. Your scientific education was behind the times.

    But a question to ask might be, do people not specializing in science need to know very much about that stuff at the high school level? I know even asking that question would generally be considered heresy, but I think one of the problems with elementary/secondary education is that we spend too much time on “fun facts” about science that aren’t of any real use unless the person is going to get the background in math and science to pursue them at a higher academic level.

    Oh, god. I could talk for an hour about why I think both science and history are taught wrongly (especially science in the lower grades) and why no, not everybody needs the exact same education. But I’m not going to.

    I also remember that in K we learned to tie our shoes… when dd was in K-3 she wasn’t ALLOWED to bring tie up shoes because the teachers didn’t want to have to tie “30 pairs of shoes”. :/

    Oh, god, really?

    At the niece’s school the rule is that kids can only bring lace-up shoes when they can tie their shoes. Sensible enough.

    Again, in my opinion, I could not agree with the author saying kids can be free-range, and with her statement that crime is less now than in ’79.

    This is not something up for debate. It is not a matter of opinion. You are allowed your own opinions, but you’re certainly not allowed, as has been said, your own facts.

  121. @gramomster: I graduated in 1981, I knew about DNA then…

    I walked half a mile to school in grade one too…in groups at first but then by myself. But my little guy won’t get to do that at that age, because though I don’t agree more people means more crime, it certainly means more traffic. The collector street I had to cross wasn’t even close to as busy, or as speedy, as the one between home and school now. And mostly people then were driving, not drinking coffee or talking on the phone. Our car might not have had seatbelts when I was in grade one, but neither did it have cup holders.

    I had to wear tie up shoes in grade school. Were there any other kind?

  122. Reading all these comments (save a few) are making me sad that my almost 8 y.o. daughter will be among the few kids her age (and in second grade) to partake in more “free range” behaviors. We’ve a way to go, but one big one I’ve been contemplating is the walk TO school from our house — not even 1/8 of a mile, a straight shot from our corner — on her own. We have a crossing guard, but I wonder if I’ll be lambasted for doing such a thing? (Just about everyone I know walks their kids, it seems, up to a certain age.)

    I’m appalled at how many of the other moms I know are still overprotective of their children — just the other day, another mom and I (who are friendly, and our daughters are best friends) were at a local park with our girls. The girls were off playing on the swings, my friend and I were chatting, and immediately, my friend comments “I can’t see the girls from here,” to which I commented, “They’re fine — as long as they know where we are.” I also wonder if, because our children are onlies, and we’re a bit older, if this also makes one overprotective. (I read somewhere that it was noted that older moms, and moms of only children, tend to be overprotective, not having learned to “let go” as they would if they had more than one.)

    I am also struggling with my daughter going through a “fearful” phrase now — anytime she cannot find me at home (I’ll be in the garden, or the basement), she gets all hysterical, thinking I abandoned her. I worry about her getting hit by a car if she doesn’t pay attention to crossing a street, and she worries that she’ll get kidnapped, How that happened, I have no idea — we rarely watch local news, and while I’ve explained that there are some bad people in the world and one needs to be mindful of his/her surroundings, “stranger danger” is not a concept I’ve bought into. (OTOH, I do ascribe to Lenore’s “Don’t go off with strangers” rule. :))

  123. Sherry B- Lenore has stated, and provided proof, that crime rates are down. You are stating the opposite. Will you admit that it is possible that, providing it is indeed fact, your area is the *exception* and that to judge others who don’t live with such a freak crime wave is inappropriate? Or do you prefer to be an exercise in how to deal with fear-mongering parents who completely disregard facts?

  124. Sherry B, the fact is, crime rates are down, the backside to this is everything becaomes “major News” so we are saturated by multple forms of coverage about the same event, therefore it feels worse than it is. I work in a field that notices these things, and the rates are down. Do yourself a favor, stop watching all the coverage of these things.

    If we let other peoples fears influence how we raise our children, we are going to have a genaration of kids who cannot think for themselves, and will end up paralyzed by the fears that have been pushed onto them.

    When i was a child my friend’s sister was killed by a drunk driver on her war home from school, less than 100 ft from my house. Did my mom tell us to stop walking to school? NO, she made a point to reinforce what she had told us about being careful and aware of your surroundings.

    My middle son skipped a grade, so when he started High school he was younger than everyone else, did we tell him he couldn’t have the same open campus priveldges as everyone else did at lunch time? No, he got the same priveldges. He has grown into a very responsible teen because of this. however, if he had broken the trust when he was younger then there would have been cause to revoke the priveldges.

    Don’t project your fears onto everyone else. and don’t judge, every child is different. I think the message of free range is for parents to understand thier own child and give them the freedoms that he/she are ready for, as appropriate.

  125. @Sherry B- I have heard of child abductions. Who hasn’t with Nancy Grace and all the news channels sensationalizing them? I also hear of car accidents and drownings, which happen way too frequently and take away the lives of so many more children. I’m just trying to be a rational parent here.

    Let me tell you a story of my Mother-In-Law (who just loves her CNN news.) We spent the last week on an incredible vacation at the lake. Our house was on the water and the kids (and their friends they invited) were in heaven with fishing, swimming, boating, and dives off the floating dock. Playing outside all day, campfires every night, both kids and adults were in heaven.

    Grandmom called EVERY DAY of our vacation. She wanted to tell us DON’T LET THE KIDS GO IN THE LAKE. Why?! Because 3 people died of a brain-eating amoeba that was found in lakes in Louisiana, Florida, and Virginia. It was all over the news. So, all lakes are dangerous now. See how spreading The Fear works?

    Thankfully (for my children’s sake), we ignored her (though we did remind them to close their mouths in the water) and enjoyed old fashioned fun without the side of irrational fear.

  126. When I lived in Panama, 6 year olds would scale a coconut tree (no side branches) with a machete, cut down a head of coconuts, slide down using their bare feet as brakes, and whack the heck out of a coconut with their machete until it was cleaned of the outer coat and had a nice, perfectly round little hole that I could drink the milk out of. The first time I saw that, I was horrified. The twentieth, thirtieth time I saw it, I realized we Americans are a bunch of namby-pambies.

  127. socalledauthor: According to pediatricians children are not ready for real potty training till at least 18 months old. That is the current standard recommendation. You can start introducing them to the potty and stuff earlier but don’t expect anything because it probably won’t happen. Sure they might pee while sitting there but will wet their pants an hour later.

    I am for late potty training around 2 and a half or 3 and never earlier than 2. Just because I know moms who started super early and then potty training takes over a year to be having no more accidents. That is crap and I am not investing that much time in it. You could have just waited longer to start and still been finished at the same time! When mine turned 3 I started potty training. We did the intense potty training in one day type of method where diapers were just gone for good and they stayed home and all we did was potty train. They were completely pee trained in 4 days. They were poop trained in one month for one son and 2 months for the other son to where they have ZERO accidents now expect for the occasional I didn’t get there in time accident.

    I have never had to freak because a kid pissed down my leg at a store or whatever. They don’t have accidents out in public period. It was so much easier to wait and then get it all over with at once and not take months and months and months. No child I know who was potty trained early actually mastered it till much much later. So personally you can start early but that doesn’t make it better than people who start late. It is about preferences. I wanted it to go fast and go well so I waited till they were very mature to do it and it went very very easy and fast. It would not have gone like that if I started at 18 months.

  128. Kristen – I know what town you live in as I lived there myself for a year. Agreed about how safe it is (far and away the safest place I’ve ever lived), and agreed about how ridiculous the school pickups were. Question for you: when your kids started K there, were they expected to know their “dinelian” (not sure if that is the correct spelling) letters? Basically, it’s supposed to be a transition alphabet between print and cursive (looks like cursive letters except they are not joined together) and the teacher was totally scandalized that a 5 year old just starting school wouldn’t know it yet.

  129. Not sure how the reading thing got brought up. I don’t push my kids to learn anything. I just expose them to stuff and it they retain it, great, if not, no biggie. I have one son who is almost reading at 4. He knows all lowercase and uppercase letters and their sounds and can identify some sight words. My other son who is a little special needs, knows most of the letters and some of the sounds and some sight words but is behind my other son on that. My other son also knows how to count to 10 in Spanish and has been doing that since 2 years old.

    I think the big thing is READ with your kids. ALL the time. I never push mine to learn anything but when I read to them, they naturally pick things up. That was how my son learned the Spanish numbers. It was in a book we read a lot.

    I also recommend http://www.starfall.com. It is a fun learning website that is mostly free. My son learned all the letter sounds through that website just playing the games.

  130. this post made me realize that our shih-tzu puppy has more free range than our kids- and we live in coyote country! maybe it’s time to loosen the leash…

  131. Hi Uly, in response to your question of whether I must take my neighbor’s opinion about my letting her son bike home without an adult into consideration, I suppose I have to say yes – if I want to maintain the friendship between our children, if I want her to respect my choices in return. (Plus, my kids go to private school so neighborhood friendships are a bit more precious.) Our levels of comfort in free-ranging our children are very far apart but I like to think I’m helping her overcome her fear bit by bit.

    To be fair, she is ‘new’ to the concept. She had never dreamed of her child biking out of her cul-de-sac with an adult much less without one and finds it amusing that we ‘pick up’ her son on our bikes. We on the other hand have steadily built up ties in the neighborhood and the confidence in our children – literally over years and with some effort. We’ve gone on daily walks/rides after dinner since the kids were infants – in slings, strollers, bikes with training wheels, then without. They would practice biking in different cul-de-sacs. In doing so not only did we get some exercise but we met and now know many more of our neighbors than we otherwise would – and they know my children. That comforts me greatly when I send my kids out into the neighborhood alone now. Hopefully by virtue of spending time with my children the neighbor boy will expand his community beyond his cul-de-sac, and that in turn will give his mother peace of mind to allow him greater independence. Baby steps…

  132. Sherry B, with about 40 people within any given 50 feet, a child kicking and screaming “This is not my parent!” would get immediate attention. My kids were not “Lucky”. They were prepared by their parents, and knew what to do should something happen. Which, NOTHING HAPPENED, not to my kid or ANY other. The fair board did have security too. I did not see them patting any one down like I have seen before but we were fine.

    All of those events that I mentioned as crime, well that happened out in the general community. Which is about 300,000 people. Yes, crime does happen, but being aware of where you are and who you are with makes a HUGE difference. (Like, I don’t shop in stores in the gang ridden area. We don’t wear colors. The kids don’t leave stores or get into cars with strangers. They let me know if they see something that doesn’t look “right”. We look out for our neighbors without having an official neighborhood watch.) Actually, I think that last year my area was voted among the top 5 of most family friendly places to live. And, from personal observation, more kids walk to and from school here than I have seen in many other communities.

    But yes, my kids came into contact with way, way more people than they would even at the local school. And they were fine, because MOST people are good people. And even the ones who are not “great” like gang members? They have their soft spots and can be nice and help too. (Like when our 6 year old friend played his violin at the mall for a visiting friend they were out to lunch with, and the gang kids came over and gave him $5! NOT what anyone expected!) Or when 5 foot, 90 lb 20 year old friend broke down on the highway prior to cell phones? A real biker dude (not one the 50 something wanna-bes) stopped and helped her change her tire and get her going again. MOST people are good, unfortunately a small portion are not. We will prepare for those ones who not, not live in fear and do the great things we did last week because a few people are not good.

    You know, there are bears in Yellowstone. But I can prepare, bring repellant and hike in groups and wear bells. And we will statistically be just fine. Or, I can live in fear of the bears and never leave the car and miss the most awesome place in the world because I was scared. Sounds to me like you are not going to Yellowstone. Good for you, but don’t stop me because I have taken the time to educate myself.

  133. socalled- if your child is happy sitting on the potty, I think it’s great. There is no age when all kids are ready, it depends on each kid. We’ve made it so easy to postpone potty training. Disposable diapers don’t leak and they don’t irritate the kids, so why not just leave them in diapers longer? And don’t even get me started on pull-ups, which I think come in sizes large enough for 20 year olds.

    Dolly – my kids took just as long to train at age 2, so I had an entire year of no diapers more than you. There is no magic age. Please don’t ever tell anyone when they should begin potty training, or that they shouldn’t try. And pediatrician recommendations are just that, recommendations. They’re based on averages, some will train earlier and some later. I’m glad I was in the earlier camp.

  134. Cheryl W – Your “Yellowstone” comment really resonated with me. The other night I saw a program on (I think) the Discovery Channel called “Yellowstone: Battle For Life,” which focused on how animals survive the extremely brutal winter there each year. It struck me how almost every animal in the park had to put themselves at risk of attack by some other species in order to continue with life. And yet … they did. They had adapted ways to minimize risk, or to fend off the attacks, but they did not wrap themselves in bubble wrap and hide in a cave and never venture out.

    It also really struck me how all of the animals went about their lives completely oblivious to the fact that Yellowstone sits atop the largest active underground volcano on a planet, and that “supervolcano” will blow again, scientists say it could happen soon or not for 75,000 years. When it blows, it will wipe out every living thing in the park (and about half of North America with the ash fallout). If the animals knew this, they’d all leave. They don’t know it, of course, and so they don’t factor that fear into their thinking.

    We know so much that we think is true, and we live in fear, and yet so much of what we think we know isn’t true.

  135. I agree with Noel in that we need some mid range free range moms like myself to slowly try to assimilate the anti free range moms. If we all go gunho about it and scare the other moms away and be rude to the anti free range moms that is not going to help the movement. We need to befriend the moms and show them gently and slowly the positives of the movement.

    That is why I get very concerned about this site and how any mom that is not 100% pro free range on every topic gets lambasted. That is not going to win any more followers to the movement.

    Just like when you are trying to stop abortions, it is way more effective to be nice and just gently talk to the women instead of throwing bloody babies dolls at their heads. One might actually get the woman to change her mind and the other will just send her screaming in the other direction.

  136. Re potty training (since y’all brought it up), My daughters both trained day & night at 1.5. My youngest did the 3-day method at 17mos and she was pretty much done after 1 day, out of diapers 100% including nights within about a week. My eldest was training in the winter, so I used more precautions and it took a little longer – but she was fully trained at 19 mos. Accidents extremely rare – and zero by age 2. Before age 2 they could communicate when they needed to go, and if we were at home, they were completely independent except for the old butt-wiping routine. So, yeah, it’s possible. I started my kids gradually, painlessly at 9mos and 12mos and with the elder, I only changed poop about 2x since the first potty sit. If that’s not for you, fine, but it’s certainly not impossible. I do wonder why people think they are doing their kids a favor by having them shit on themselves, but hey, whever floats your boat. Personally it was worth it to me to start and finish early.

  137. Re Potty Training: Most often, it depends on the kid. Not on what doctors say (they said my kids should be sleeping through the night at 4 months. Not one of my 3 did until they were 2.) Doesn’t depend on when the kid down the street trained, when you were trained or anything like that.

    To those that had early trainers or easy trainers – good for you! But please, don’t look down on the kids or parents that were later. I had one who was early, and easy. (My last one, of course.) One that was mid, and one who was over 4. (He couldn’t tell when he had to go.) Didn’t matter that I tried at 2, tried at 3. Even at 4 there were still accidents for a bit, even though we went a whole year with no diapers and cleaning himself. He just wasn’t ready. Period. It didn’t matter that I didn’t want to be changing diapers, or that he didn’t like cleaning himself after he turned 3. It wouldn’t have mattered where or when we lived. He still would have trained when he and his body were ready. That is the way it is with most kids.

    The best advice I can give parents of kids regarding potty training: You don’t see to many normally developing kindergarteners in diapers. You certainly don’t see graduates walking down the isle to get their diploma with diapers unless they have sever medical issues, which most of our kids do not.

  138. “He was 30 and in college before he heard of tectonic theory. And, DNA has only been used in court for about 10-15 years. We certainly didn’t know about it in terms of lay knowledge in 1981.”

    Well, the lack of being taught about tectonic theory is because they were using outdated/shoddy materials for teaching. But it’s not because that is a subject area that was unknown in the 70’s. If you wanted to work in geology you had to know about tectonic theory in 1950 every bit as much as you do today.

    DNA not being used in court and not being talked about in the newspaper is very different from not enough being known about it to teach to high school kids on the superficial level that’s appropriate for that level. It wasn’t used in court because it took a while for the testing techniques to become sound enough to be reliable as evidence. It wasn’t talked about in the newspaper, because it wasn’t yet commonly used in criminal law. But none of that means that the knowledge wasn’t available to be taught, if the curriculum was so designed. I absolutely know I learned about it in high school, class of ’83.

    But my larger point was that the advances in science of the last 30 years aren’t highly relevant to high school science education. Yes, everyone should know *about* them, but I still think that means just a small amount more of instruction on modern advances — not anything that requires or benefits from from pushing kids to learn to read years before they did in the past, and before a significant portion of them are ready anyway. All that means is that instead of all the kids being solid readers by second grade, and that being the normal expectation, now some kids are called “delayed” because they don’t learn to read before second grade, and are in “remedial” classes, instead of just saying “oh, well, we don’t expect every normal kid to read fluently before second grade” as it was in the past.

    Everybody should graduate from high school knowing what DNA and tectonic theory *are.* Nobody except the 1 in 5 million prodigy is going to learn anything about them that will be useful in the sense of “producing scientifically educated students” at least until the mid-college level, and then only if they are specializing in a related area. And that goes for most modern scientific advances. Everybody should learn that Einstein superseded Newton by discovering relativity. 99% of people are not EVER going to be able to do more with that knowledge than that, and almost no one is going to be able to do much with it before grad school. And it doesn’t take so long to teach kids about basic advances in science of the last thirty years that we have to push them at a rate of being years ahead of the *generally better educated people* of previous generations when they’re in first grade.

  139. BTW, I know Einstein wasn’t “the last 30 years.” :-) That was intended to serve as an example of the broader point that the higher-level discoveries that are now being made aren’t generally applicable to high-school level science education except as a few facts to know as background — and yes, I mean good, college-bound, my kid wants to be a doctor or an engineer, type high school education.

  140. Right Cheryl. Each to his own about when to try. I just personally see the benefit to later training because with most kids it will happen quicker and will probably be less frustrating.

    My main example of why I believe this was another mom of twin girls I knew. Her mother also had twin girls. Her mother pressured her daughter that her and her twin were both potty trained by a year old or something like that. I of course think she was full of it. Anyway, this woman gets it in her head that she needs to potty train the 14 months old. None of the other moms of twins were even thinking about potty training at this point. We all kinda thought she was loony. But whatever, watch and see how it goes.

    Well for the next year she continued to train and complain about all the accidents and how hard it was blah blah. Well if she had just probably waited longer to start they would have ended up trained at the same time a little bit after 2. Potty training should not take months and months and months. Most experts say try it and if after a couple weeks there is not a lot of improvement, stop and try again later. It stresses the parents and the kids out I would think.

    So that is just my 2 cents about it. If you want to try early, go for it. But if it is not working within 2 months, you need to give it up and try again later. The whole process should not take more than 3 months total. It is better to wait however long it takes for the child to be ready and the parent to be ready to start instead of drawing the whole thing out for a year.

    Of course, it is your life and do what you want in the end. I just think my friend would have been a lot happier and saved herself a lot of frustration if she just waited to start.

  141. LOL Robin. I would rather have another year of diapers instead of piss and poop down my leg at the grocery store and pull ups and cleaning poop and pee of the carpet and furniture etc. I only had to do the pee thing for 4 days and the poop thing for 2 months. You were doing it for a year! If that was how you wanted to do it, each to his own, but my house and my sanity would have been a mess if I did that for that long!

  142. Oh nevermind Robin, I think I misread your comment. I thought you were saying they started training at 2 and then finished at 3. Whoops! My apologies!

  143. [...] the independence to make their way around their neighborhoods freely and unsupervised. In a recent post, she points to a child development book from 1979, when six-year-olds could be expected to be able [...]

  144. Oh also wanted to point out that at our high rated daycare by law we were not allowed to potty train till 2 and a half-2 minimum. Even if the parents said they were training at home or whatever, by law they had to be in diapers and were not allowed to use a potty. It was based on pediatricians, childcare experts, child psychologists, etc who made this recommendation to the state and we were required to follow it. So take whatever you want from that.

  145. I’m so relieved! I was on vacation a couple of months ago with my in-laws, staying in a cabin in the mountains. One morning, I was hiking with several of the kids and some of the adults. My 6-year-old niece decided she wanted to go back when we were about the equivalent of two blocks from the cabin. We were walking on a main road that met with the cabin’s driveway, so I decided she could do it on her own. She was thrilled and headed back with an immense sense of pride. I was excited for her to see if she could recognize the driveway and get back on her own. I figured that if she couldn’t, she would simply try another driveway or meet back up with us, as we intended to stay on the main road the entire time. My sister-in-law (not the child’s mother) noticed that she was heading back and when I explained that she was done hiking, my SIL was aghast that my niece was going back alone. Then, my father-in-law insisted on walking her back and lectured me on how since the girl’s parents weren’t around (her mother was sick and had to be driven home), we had to be responsible for her. I was more than offended, obviously. I had spent a lot of time looking after the children since their parents had left the night before. I was also really sad for her, since she had seemed so excited to try it alone. I was even more disappointed when I confided in my husband, who is normally on-board with the free-range theories, and he said that he wouldn’t have allowed her to go back alone, either. He said “wouldn’t you be worried?”. I said I probably would have been a bit, but that it was definitely the right thing to do. But since then, I’ve waffled on the issue and wondered if when I have a 6-year-old, I should allow them to go that distance on their own. I really needed to hear that a child that age is capable of finding her way home on a main road, just a couple of blocks away.

  146. Well, I would not use a daycare that refused to let my child relieve herself in the toilet. That is inhumane. If my kid makes a recognizable sign that she needs the toilet, she’s going to the toilet.

    Again Dolly, you start saying “it is best . . . .” It is best to do what makes the most sense based on the individual parent and child.

    Potty training can reduce issues like diaper rash, infections, certain behavior issues (like kids playing in their poo or disrobing at night), etc. It has no ill health effects. I grant that it is not worth “battling” over at an early age, but why assume it’s going to be a battle? You teach your kid to eat in the kitchen at the table, how is that different from teaching them to eliminate in the bathroom on the toilet? How is changing multiple diapers daily, including buying, storing, cleaning squished-on shit, disposing, etc., easier than spending a little time potty training? And also, many of the people who wait past age 3 still have battles and long training – longer than both of my kids put together.

    I think the advice to postpone comes from people who make money on extended diapering.

    But if postponing is right for YOU, by all means do it. Just don’t tell my that what I did was wrong for my kids.

  147. These days a 9 year old riding the Subway home alone is FRONT PAGE NEWS:

    “Mom lets 9-year-old take subway home alone ”

    http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/23935873/ns/today-today_people/t/mom-lets–year-old-take-subway-home-alone/

  148. Joey, I wish there was a sarcastic font (hoping)!

    Delayed potty training means old man poops. It’s just gross, I’ve seen it, and refused to babysit a few nephews (we have big babies in my family.)
    My potty confession(parenting fail)- it took us two years to potty train our oldest. We failed miserably. We got the potty at 18 months, did the books, videos, music royal flush toilet, and resorted to bribery. M&M’s, money, you name it. We tried it.
    It wasn’t until his older cousin came over to play, and when our son followed him into the bathroom, his cousin asked him to leave because he wanted “privacy”.
    My son didn’t know you could be alone in the bathroom. We were such freaks that he never knew it was an option and once he got left alone to do his business in “private”, he was potty trained immediately. Duh.
    The other two were done at 2.
    Privacy and independence encouraged from the start.

  149. Here’s a semi-free range story for the day. I took my four-year-old to an outdoor street festival today. It spanned several city blocks downtown. While we were walking she (voluntarily) held my hand the entire time. When we sat down to eat (outside! without hand sanitizer!) we sat down near a fountain. I let Avery run around the fountain and get wet, soaked to the bone was more like it. Other mommies pulled their little darlings away from the fountain afraid that they would get a sprinkle of water. One older gentleman that was sharing my bench (and whom I let sit next to my daughter!) commented on the “helicopter mommy” who wasn’t letting her darlin’ get wet at all. Avery ran around the fountain for over an hour much to the delight of everyone watching (yes, they were all watching and smiling, offering her high fives, chatting it up with her). Of particular interest was about a half dozen elderly people in wheelchairs on an outing from their nursing home. THEY. LOVED. IT! Every single one of them was smiling, talking and waving to the little girl playing around in the water. It was probably the best medicine they’d taken all week.

    How sad that other children are not allowed to bring joy to others by being allowed to play in water. (And no, she wasn’t being bratty, running wild or splashing, just running around the fountain in the spray.)

  150. Tara – sounds like your daughter had lots of fun! I hope you had a change of clothes with you. :)

  151. Denny, I did not, but the 8 block walk in 92 degree heat dried her out pretty well. :)

  152. Sounds good! If I were you (and much bolder than myself), I would have invited other kids to join her. :)

  153. Joey, I’m pretty sure, without even clicking the link, that that article is a. a few years old and b. already been covered here because c. it’s Lenore’s kid :)

  154. I assumed the article about Lenore was mentioned as a joke…

  155. You never can tell.

  156. Denny, had I not been having a grand conversation with the people sharing my bench I may have! Then again I probably would have just received dagger eyes from the heli-moms. Water! Without lifeguards! Or floaties! Or chlorine! ;)

  157. When I was six in 1979 I lived in another country, but we had a great deal of freedom. I went everywhere alone or with other kids, I don’t even remember where any adults were. I walked to school, to the park to the stores. I remember one kid was killed by someone near my house. It made national news. Although it was shocking to everyone, I don’t remember it changing anyone’s behavior regarding restricting their kids.

    On the other hand, in British novels about kids, like Mary Poppins, or the Secret Garden, or Oliver Twist, upper class kids NEVER went out alone. They are always playing in their huge mansions, or in their extensive gardens, but they never go anywhere else unaccompanied. Lower class kids did, and could be arrested for being urchins. Ironically, considering what we are discussing here, these novels often highlighted how much fun the lower class kids had, because of all their freedom.

    I wonder if something similar is at play now: only “bad”, i.e. poor, parents can not afford to have constant supervision of their kids, so any kids out is a declasse reflection on their parents. It definitely feels like a money thing to me: picking up your kids in your SUV makes no sense from a safety perspective, but you do get to flaunt your wealth.

  158. A wonderful reminder…which came to me just two days after the new principal at my son’s school banned all parents from coming onto the school grounds at drop-off and pick-up because of (among other things) “stranger danger.”

  159. “How is changing multiple diapers daily, including buying, storing, cleaning squished-on shit, disposing, etc., easier than spending a little time potty training?”

    No wet beds, no wet carpets, no wet furniture, no tears (mine), no kid who who feels guilty about not getting it and hides his dirty underwear (and this is NOT because I was harsh on him) — I definitely think changing a few diapers a day is easier than potty training.

  160. @pentamon >no tears (mine)

    why would you cry over it?

  161. @Me — frustration when it doesn’t go well. Not saying it’s reasonable, saying it happens.

  162. “No wet beds, no wet carpets, no wet furniture, no tears (mine), no kid who who feels guilty about not getting it and hides his dirty underwear (and this is NOT because I was harsh on him) — I definitely think changing a few diapers a day is easier than potty training.”

    Not all kids who potty train “early” have this experience. I would say if this were the case, for that individual kid/adult combo it was too early. At 16 months my son had a special cry for when he woke up at night and needed to relieve himself (I figured it out after a few nights when nothing would calm him down and I would try changing his diaper only to find it was dry and then he peed on the changing table). He has been dry at night since.

  163. My husband and I are raising 3 girls in downtown Chicago and we routinely allow them to walk around the neighborhood on their own — they are older now (11, 9 and 8), but they’ve been doing this for a few years now. I think it’s so important for them to feel self-sufficient and confident in their own home/neighborhood. We also routinely leave them home alone (during daylight hours) and for short periods of time. They have strict rules: do not answer the door; do not leave the hosue; do not use the stove, etc. It works for us.

    As far as walking around the neighborhood, I have had some moments of panic when they were gone longer than I would have expected, say, a walk around the block to take. I have managed to calm myself by regularly doing some playacting with them about what to do in various situations; ie, “What if someone wants you to help them find their puppy?” “What if someone says that mom or dad is hurt and that they are going to take you to us?” “What if someone tries to grab you and pull you into a car?” etc etc. There was a time when I was reticent to play these “games” with them as I wanted to preserve their innocence for as long as possible, but I realized finally that it is better to know that they are prepared as best I can prepare them. This gives all of us confidence, and despite the fact that mine are the only kids that I ever see walking alone on our block, we feel confident in our choices.

  164. Nasrin, what would you consider the relative class-level of the kids in Five Children and It (and the sequels)?

  165. Kawaii — I’m not saying they do. I’m not saying it’s a reason not to potty train.

    SKL asked why anyone might think that not potty training was easier than potty training, and I answered (from personal experience) why someone might think that.

  166. Nasrin, on September 2, 2011 at 04:02 said:
    I wonder if something similar is at play now: only “bad”, i.e. poor, parents can not afford to have constant supervision of their kids…

    —————

    That is very insightful. I’m going to have to think about that for a while.

  167. Ooooh….good question, Uly!

    But apart from that possibly erroneous detail, I think Nasrin’s overall point is fair — “good parents with the means to quote-unquote appropriately care for their kids keep them close, it’s only the urchins or kids who’s parents just *can’t* manage to keep track of them because they’re too busy surviving, who run wild like that” is not an unknown attitude in our society. In fact it’s the only answer that many people can give for why some sectors of society let their kids go out and about regularly without out-and-out calling them bad parents.

  168. Oh, I do think the overall point is fair, and I’ve said much the same myself.

  169. @Binxcat1: I think we went wrong – academic vs real world – when we slowly stopped our kids from doing things on their own. How much math can you learn with a trip to the store? Geometry? Reading? Locations and directions? Nature? Weather? Life?

    OK, and my theory is it all started with Kevin Collins – the kid on the Milk Carton. http://bit.ly/rcKnxC

  170. I had this column in mind when my 5-year-old could no longer conceal that the foot she had sprained yesterday was still hurting too much this morning to walk to the library. Luckily this was just out of sight of our house. I sent her home, then negotiated with my 7-year-old. She agreed to take the bag of DVDs and books back to the library on her own (crossing one lit and two unlit crosswalks) if I would also let her go buy a set of costume jewelry at the grocery store (across the busiest street in town). I agreed to let her if she used only the crosswalks we always used, remembered to look both ways every time including on the pedestrian island in the middle of the busiest street in town, and didn’t go anywhere else–straight there, straight back. She had memorized the price of the costume jewelry and counted that exact amount into her wallet from her bank, but forgot to figure sales tax, so I gave her some nickels and sent her on her way.

    I can’t say I wasn’t nervous. I can’t say I didn’t have to take a deep breath before I raised the subject. But she did brilliantly.

    I also reminded her to tell any adult who questioned her presence alone on a Thursday that we’re homeschooling and responsibility is part of her education. Which it is.

    Thanks again, Lenore!

    Oh, and: I had let my 20-month-old walk about as far as my heart could take, then popped him into the stroller before he could charge across the street. (He won’t walk on a harness, darn it.) He usually rides up the hill on the way back because he’s tired, but we had just left, so I reminded myself, “Free range!” and let him walk up the hill to see what he would do. Stayed on the sidewalk and everything–with me between him and traffic, of course. I think the novelty of being able to walk where he normally rode kept him from trying to play chicken with the cars.

  171. “we’re homeschooling and responsibility is part of her education.”

    That is great. I have to remember that one. Not that anyone has gotten hassled, yet.

  172. The summer of 1976 I turned 5 years old. That fall, I went to half day morning kindergarten at the same school where my mother taught. My mother and babysitter showed me how to walk to the babysitters house a few times until they were sure I could remember the way and cross the street safely, then that was it. After that I was on my own. If I had a few pennies I could stop at the the candy store and buy something on my way to the babysitter.

    Getting picked up by your parents from school was unheard of back then unless you were sick or in trouble with the teacher. A kid who rode a bike to school would have been called a show-off. Bikes were for after school. Most kids had further to walk than I did and no one thought it was strange or remotely thought that them incapable of doing so.

    I think the idea that parents are supposed to be safety monitors rather than actually teaching their kids how to navigate the real world is a notion we need to get over and fast. I feel sorry for today’s kids because behind all these notions of “keeping them safe” is the idea that we really don’t trust them at all and we think they’re dumb. What a message to send to an entire generation.

  173. The problem I have with ‘current’ potty training recommendations and claims that children can’t learn to be reliably dry is that they are not backed up by studies. And in the rest of the world, where they don’t have disposable diapers to reduce “accidents,” children do learn full bowel and bladder control around a year of age– before they have the chance to develop the habit of doing their potty business in their diapers, which becomes the norm. (Read Diaper Free by Age Three for the studies that support “early” potty training.)

    A friend of mine, who is older than my parents, potty trained her children around one year of age. That’s what you did back in the fifties and sixties. She doesn’t recall any issues with accidents, other than the normal that can be expected with ANY child that doesn’t want to interrupt what they do to use the potty. (She said she combated that by requiring an “Accident-prone” child to sit on the potty even if they didn’t “have” to go… )

    The delay in potty training age in this country is directly correlated with the rise of the disposable diaper industry. Not causation, but it makes me wonder…

    How is that we expect a child to take care of themselves at school at age 4 or 5, but only a year before that, they’re not able to practice proper hygiene and use the toilet? They can tie their shoes, write their names, but not control their bowels? Something seems strangely incongruous about that whole thing to me.

    I don’t recall any documentaries on the natives in Africa where the young children had urine or feces running down their legs… what are we doing differently in this country? (To me, it seems we’re busy saying that children “can’t” reliably control their bodies, in spite of evidence that they can and will.)

  174. Everyone is different and all children learn things at different rates, from potty training to reading to multiplication tables. By the way, I’m impressed that some schools still require this – must be private schools. The current trend in public ed is what I like to call fruity, tootie, hippy dippy math. No basic skills, all discovery. Real-world problem solving is all well and good, but it’s a whole lot easier when you have the basics down. I’m pretty sure we’d have never got to the moon if those engineers hadn’t learned their multiplication tables in elementary school.

  175. While I may concede that the convenience (and dryness) of disposable diapers may be delaying potty-training in some respects, I’m going to say that everyone on here claiming that it’s so easy to potty train, etc, has never had a difficult to potty-train child. End of story.

  176. All kids are different. Some are easy to potty train, others difficult. Some could handle a solo trip to the store at age 9, others can’t handle it at 19!

    I’m reminded of my two kids, how my daughter when she was 4 and didn’t want to try a new food I could get her to try it with a bribe of a nickel. Most of the time, she liked the food and would eat it from then on. My son comes along, and at age 4 doesn’t want to try peas (or anything else – Thank God for Chicken Tenders, or he’d have starved to death.) So I tried the same tactic. “Eat that pea and I’ll give you a nickel.”

    His response: “I don’t want a nickel, and I don’t want a pea.”

    My daughter could be easily convinced to try new things. Not so him. He had to learn at his own pace. But when he decided to learn something new, he did it practically overnight. He could care less about using the potty until a couple weeks before his first day at preschool. We had tried and tried. He knew how it worked. He just wasn’t interested. Then, one night, he announces that he’s done with pull-ups, and would wear “big boy underpants” starting tomorrow. And he did – with virtually NO accidents ever after that. (One accident in the car was our fault for not getting him to a bathroom fast enough.)

    I’m also reminded of how we got my son to stop using a pacifier. He was addicted to it. Couldn’t go to sleep without it. Woke up in the middle of the night without it, and cried until we found it and gave it to him. Then, one night, late, I couldn’t find it anywhere. (He lost them all the time – the “Great Pacifier Hunt” was a nightly occurrence – and I still don’t know where about a dozen of them went. Probably where Bic pen lids go and missing socks disappear to from the dryer.) Dead tired, and tired of looking, I just went and told him I couldn’t find it and he’d have to find it in the morning. He promptly went to sleep. We never found it and never bought another.

    With my daughter, it was her bottles that were her security-blanket. She HAD to have her bottle. But we kept telling her that when she turned 3 the bottles would disappear forever. Sure enough, on her 3rd birthday, I tossed all the bottles into the trash (except 1, just in case, but it was tucked waaaaaay back in a kitchen cabinet). She adapted instantly. Because we had prepared her and made it a milestone to be embraced rather than a loss to be feared and fought against. The last bottle went into the trash a few weeks later – when she wasn’t watching!

    By the way, a few months after the last Great Pacifier Hunt, we were playing outside and a ball went into the street so I went to retrieve it. His last lost pacifier was in the middle of the street, about 50 feet from our driveway. I have no idea how it got there, but can picture him tossing it there one day, from the yard or out of the car window. Maybe he knew it was time to give it up and was just waiting for us to catch up.

  177. Pentamom, I read your point, but I don’t think those issues are significantly more likely with a child who trains early. Kids who are not trained can have leaky diapers overnight, “blowouts,” and all variety of mishaps caused by the child not in fact enjoying crap plastered to his skin. Kids who train later have accidents too, sometimes for a year or more, not counting bedwetting. Problems especially happen to parents who can’t be consistent and confident themselves.

    Maureen is right – I’ve never personally taught a child who couldn’t learn to use the potty pretty quickly. I’ve also never considered it the child’s decision where the poo/pee should go and when. Granted, I’ve known kids who didn’t finish day training until around age 4 (two gifted kids come to mind), but their parents were giving them too much leeway in my opinion. My sister also has a 4yo nephew whose mom explains he “has no interest” in potty training. WTH? At some point you tell the child he needs to get interested.

    The physical readiness thing is somewhat misleading. It’s kind of like having the balance necessary to ride a bike Nobody is born with this; it only develps from actually getting the feel of riding a bike. When my youngest was in diapers, she did not seem to notice the sensation of needing to pee, and she generally didn’t hold it very long. But within an hour of playing outside in training pants, having attention called to her peeing at the moment it was happening, and being encouraged to go sit on the potty to finish the deed, she started to hold it purposefully and to do a pretty good job. (She was 17mo). She never wore another diaper in the daytime, and soon was sleeping through the night with no diaper (and no wet bed). If the physical readiness indicators were right, how to explain the fact that within a week of her first potty boot camp day, she could hold it all night and for multple-hour periods during the day?

    I also think the parental fears behind potty training are ridiculous. Oh, doing it wrong will make him hate you, be friendless, wear diapers until age 30, and have a horrible sex life in adulthood. For real? I guess most people in the older generations are perverts, then.

  178. So many remarks here. I would agree that the emphasis is on academic focus now – and I emphasize state-sponsored education. I know for certain that on the street the world is a safer place than it was 20 years ago when I was growing up and at this approximate age you describe. Video games and internet dating and other features have kept the creeps at home or busy.

  179. But… if children learn at different rates, how do we explain that children in countries without disposable diapers (who train their kids before a year old) are ALL potty trained far, far earlier than US kids? Is it biology… or culture that’s different?

    And, in the US, in the 1950s, only special needs children were NOT fully trained by 18 months. What changed in the years in between?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toilet_training

    My money is on culture changing. I’ve been accused of pushing my son to potty train “too early.” He’s 14 months and neither of us are having ANY fun with diaper changes. I don’t find a trash can of feces in the house to be appealing (we take the bag out every other day) or sanitary. And I don’t understand what the real arguments are against starting “early.” Something in our culture changed– are we more afraid of letting our babies grow up or afraid of the boogeymand of the so-called irreparable harm that comes from pushing our children to improve themselves– as all pushing is bad?

  180. I wrote an article last year about my then 6-1/2 year-old’s “village” – i.e. his independent roaming range around our house. It’s about two blocks. He didn’t go farther primarily because there’s nothing of interest for him beyond this range that particularly interested him.

    Here it is:

    Marco’s Village

  181. My favorite thing are the kid leashes I see people with, sometimes disguised as backpacks, sometimes not. Even better when the parent knocks over the kid with the leash. Le sigh.

  182. I was 6 in 1977. My friends and I were allowed to go anywhere in our subdivision, on bikes or on foot. We just had a certain time to be home for dinner. The worst thing that happened was falling off my bike and landing on my head. So my friend ran to her house, which was nearest, and got a parent. No big deal.

    When my brother was 6, he would sometimes have to let himself into the house because my mom was out, and wait 30 minutes by himself for my bus to get home. Again, not really that big a deal. Nowadays I’m scared someone would call the police if I did that.

  183. Seems like teachers are guilty on everything. They are solely responsible for failing schools and low international scores. Because they are lazy to teach and whatever.

    And they are responsible for overprotected kids too. Because we focus too much on academics and it is their fault.

    This is just a blame game and academics and teachers are easy targets. Nobody likes them. Except that, those early learning are just another educational fad. And as far as I know, educational theory says a lot about need for physical movement, exploration, breaks and so on. Neither academics and neither educated teachers promote it.

    The cycle is sad: there is a hype. Teacher are against and they are marked as lazy and unwilling to change. Or worst, as theorists or academics. Then, everybody has to use the new method to the extreme.

    No combining methods, no choosing which topics should be touch by which method. Some projects are good, so everything will be a project. And discovery for math is great, so everything will be learned by discovery.

    Of course it does not work. And then, the teachers are blamed.

    Sorry for long rant. I’m not a teacher, but I do value education and all those campaigns and reforms are destroying it. And then blame teachers.

  184. @Uly, the children in the E. Nesbit books are upper middle class – their father has a professional job, and they have two or three live-in servants, but they aren’t very wealthy or members of the landed gentry. In “The Story of the Treasure Seekers,” the Bastable kids (who were also upper middle class before their father fell on hard times) actually meet one of those children who have governesses and aren’t allowed to leave the garden, and they think she’s odd and feel sorry for her lack of freedom.

    Jumping back several comments to early reading, my daughter was reading quite fluently when she started kindergarten, and last year in sixth grade, she tested at a twelfth-grade reading level. But, because she’s not that interested in schoolwork (she’d rather hurry through it and get back to reading) she’s not an academic superstar – she gets better-than-average grades, but not any higher than some of her more driven friends who didn’t learn to read until well after starting school. Motivation counts for an awful lot when it comes to school success–almost more than anything else, I think.

  185. [...] – hat tip: Free Range Kids blog [...]

  186. @ Vanessa– motivation is a HUGE factor. I used to work with alternative high school kids, and the biggest problem was that they were motivationally challenged. They could read, and do the work– usually with ease– but they’d rather not. They saw little value in education beyond the pervasive notion that they HAD to finish high school, but they weren’t getting much out of the experience. And these were middle and upper class white kids in suburbia with few excuses. But their parents also didn’t care– in the 7 years I taught there, I think I dealt with one parent every year. One parent out of all my students actually contacted me to talk about their kid– out of the 150 or so students under the age of 19.

    @Andy– I agree with you. Parents don’t look at themselves as being part of the problem. They don’t trust their kids to manage their homework, but then trust the kid when he says, every day, that he never has any. Kids who are failing their senior year, still get to go on trips to Cancun and still get to drive the nice car their parents bought. Teachers can’t fix motivation, though we may try. Many kids believe that they don’t and SHOULDN’T have to work for anything, a culture that is probably linked to the permissiveness and overprotetiveness that starts young telling kids that they aren’t capable and Mommy will do it (such as crossing the street, cooking, or any number of things that kids rarely do around the house anymore, because it’s dangerous or just easier for the parents.)

    *I should quantify that not ALL kids have these problems, but it is a lot of them. Perhaps even a majority.

  187. @ Mike Lanza, I really enjoy your blog which I first discovered via this site. Thanks for sharing your experience and ideas.

    http://www.playborhood.com

  188. I do think it’s possible for parents to teach both self-care and basic academic info (e.g., letters, number concepts) before KG. However, if the child seems unable to learn both, then I would focus on self-care (including the ability to get from point A to point B without holding Mommy’s hand). Taking care of oneself and picking up after oneself involve thinking skills that do carry over into schoolwork.

  189. Socalled – I agree with you on the disposable diaper/late training. When parents had to wash diapers there’s a huge incentive to stop using them. I don’t know if the industry pushed the idea of keeping kids in diapers longer or if it just became easier and parents got lazy, it’s hard to tell. But I think pediatrician recommendations are revised based on what the parents are actually doing. They are not based on studies, at least I haven’t seen any.

    Andy – my kids have had some wonderful teachers. They’ve also had some lousy ones. As in every profession there are good ones and bad ones. Unfortunately some of the “new” teaching methods and ideas ARE lousy and are failing to teach our kids.

  190. I haven’t read through all the comments here, but I have noticed several seem to be talking about potty training. A few years ago my aunt found the booklet the hospital gave my grandparents when she was born in 1951. It was all about how to care for your new baby. One section was on potty training and started out talking about how you shouldn’t push your child and each baby will be potty trained on their own time schedule. It went on to say that you shouldn’t be upset when your neighbors 8 month old is trained and your 11 month old still isn’t!! 60 years later the debate seems to be between 2-3 years, so it does make me wonder if 60 years from now potty training will be considered kindergarten readiness, not to be attempted until closer to 5-6. I really think the main reason people potty train later is because of disposable diapers, they make it so convenient. If I had had a pail of filth in my bathroom that I had to clean myself I would have started earlier. As it was my kids were both around 2 just because it was so convenient to diaper them.

  191. I agree Nancy, my boys were both in disposables and they potty trained by age 2-3. Now with my baby girl I am using cloth so I have to wash them every 2 days or so. She started her training at 9 mths old when I got her a basic potty(no bells and whistles) and within 5 mins of me putting her on it she had both a #1 and #2 in it. But I had been watching her for 2 months at the same time each day do her #2 in her diapers and it was like clockwork once she started self feeding around 7 mths. So I knew when I was gonna have a dirty one and I wanted to avoid it lol! Since then she also has had 2 nights diaper free with no accidents (she only has an accident when I wake after her or dont get her in a diaper or on the potty before she starts to move, shes a very still sleeper) but I do not do her diaper free most nights, that was due to a rash she got when she had to use sposies for a day out and I wanted to air her out for a few nights. I am not pushing her by any means, just going with the flow (pardon my pun)!

  192. Nora, you bring up another reason I think potty training is being postponed. Moms just aren’t home with the kids enough to know when they have to go. Dolly mentioned that her wonderful state liscened facility won’t let them train until 2. That means to me that they have to wait until the kids are vocal enough to tell them when they have to go, where a parent home every day will notice way before then.

  193. Don’t know if you’ve see this yet, but aparently allowing a 10 year old to bike to school is grounds for child endangerment. Ugh. http://bicycling.com/blogs/thehub/2011/08/30/arrested-for-riding-to-school/y

  194. I agree Robin, I went back to work when my boys were around 1 year old(gotta love Canada) but I realized after paying for daycare and such I really was not contributing much extra to the home finances, I was basically working to pay for someone else to take care of my kids. So when I had my baby girl I decided I would not even try to go back to work until she starts school.

    as far as what dolly said about not starting until age 2 or so in daycare, the daycare my boys went to were expected to be fully trained by age 2 1/2 so they can go into the next age group, but that was 5 yrs ago or so and in Canada, I don’t know if things here have changed much since then…

  195. Andy, actually as much as I think the pushing academics (not teaching at home, but expecting KG kids to already know how to read and labeling them delayed if they don’t) in lieu of free play (which leads to later academic success) *is* a problem I absolutely DON’T blame teachers. I blame parents that don’t let kids be kids or teach them life skills at home and demand schools push academics because they don’t understand how play effects kids developmentally. I blame politicians that push for standarized tests rather than actual learning. I blame a society that values (pays) celebrities more than they do those who truly impact society (teachers, first responders, military). How can teachers be to blame when they don’t set the standards, nobody listens to them about what is developmentally appropriate for the students they teach, and every time their is any government shortage of money they are the first to take a hit in pay?

    Can you tell I have several teachers in my world, not just my mother in law?

  196. One of mine potty trained early, and one late. It was not my decision to potty train late. The late-training one was just not ready until 3.5. I tried earlier, but it just caused frustration, and did not cause her to potty train. She couldn’t read the signals, and she is neurotypical.

    The early one would have been pulling off her diapers to use the toilet way before 2. No daycare would have been able to keep her in diapers if she needed to use the toilet. I would have been very angry with a daycare that tried.

    All kids are different. Please don’t assume you know what is best or right for other people’s kids based on your own.

  197. Uly, I was not familiar with Five Children and It, but I found it on-line, here is a quote from the first page:

    “For London is like prison for children, especially if their relations are not rich. Of course there are the shops and the theatres, and Maskelyne and Cook’s, and things, but if your people are rather poor you don’t get taken to the theatres, and you can’t buy things out of the shops; and London has none of those nice things that children may play with without hurting the things or themselves.”

    So, still fits my thesis. These kids are not rich, but middle class. They still had no freedom in London, because they weren’t so low class they’d be allowed out by themselves there, but low class enough that in the country was okay.

    There must be some exception, but I guess this one isn’t it.

  198. Re: Academics

    I was born in 1982 and to this day I do not know the entire multiplication table. Shocking, I know. People don’t believe me when I tell them that, but I simply never memorized the upper half. I honestly don’t remember it being a big issue. I also can’t write in cursive. I remember thinking that my teachers didn’t really care if I ever learned either. I’m not necessarily blaming them, I know that I have some type of learning disability and had a hard time with many many other concepts. Additionally, my parents never cared too much about my academic success. When I play blackjack in Vegas, I figure things by tens and add or subtract. I do the same thing when figuring sale prices on outfits and tips at restaurants. I get by and am successful work-force-wise. Unfortunately, it took me YEARS to undo the caged parenting that my mother cursed me with. I’m 29 and I’m still learning that it’s ok to do things on my own. Someone a few comments back mentioned that some 19-year-olds can’t handle a trip to the store. Some days, I still can’t. I’ve never lived on my own and I have to psych myself up to do many things that seem normal to other people. Including going out to water the lawn alone after dark. So, in my opinion, social awareness is much more important than academics. Of course, this is just one person’s experience.

  199. When my brother went to daycare in 1976-ish, they accepted 2-year-olds only if they were potty trained. It was a rare kid who wasn’t at least working on it around their 2nd birthday. It’s definitely societal.

    I have a theory that I forgot to mention before. It makes no sense to introduce anything new involving parental control during the “terrible twos.” Unless you have a docile child or one who decides on his own that he abhors diapers, you’re just asking for trouble with that plan. BUT that does not mean the terrible threes are a better time to do it! It makes more sense, to me, to start before all those control battles enter the picture. Then the child already takes it for granted that he uses the bathroom and it doesn’t occur to him to soil himself just to prove he can.

  200. My mom, who put kids (including me) into daycare in 1976, sent me the method she used to get us potty trained before 2, and it involved having us sit in the bathroom for hours a day if need be, and spanking us every time we had an accident. Just because most kids were potty trained at 2 doesn’t mean it always done in a gentle way, and just because you were able to do it gently doesn’t mean everyone else would.

  201. Well again, there is always the option of not diaper training kids in the first place, but then both the diaper industry and the potty training industry would be unnecessary. I think that could collapse our economy.

    I recall a mom posting: “My baby pees every time I take his diaper off, what should I do?” It didn’t occur to anyone (except me) that maybe she should get a little potty and thank her lucky stars. She was given all sorts of advice about what products she could buy, or how she could induce him to pee in his diaper before changing him. Presumably she figured it out eventually, as a couple years later, she was wondering how to “potty train” him.

  202. Yeah that’s called Elimination Communication, and it works well for a lot of moms and kids. It would be hard to do if in daycare though.

    I introduced the potty before 18 months with both kids. One just took to it and it was great, but the other just could not read her body’s signals until she was older. I think early potty training is ideal, I just hate to see assumptions made that all kids can be potty trained early. Kids are individuals. I do think most kids, even a large majority, cold be potty trained earlier than they are, and I also agree that the disposable diaper industry is a large reason why they aren’t.

  203. Jo, the teacher has no right to get your child assessed so frequently and behind your back, and you have every right to tell the teacher to back off if the psychologist has determined he’s perfectly fine. If she keeps doing it take it to the principal, she’s wasting time and resources, and obviously picking on your child (Is he the only one?), and if it doesn’t stop there you’ll be dealing with this BS until he graduates.

    I am not a single mom, but I may as well be sometimes since my hubby is a musician(sessions, rehearsals, tours, etc on top of work)and we have no family in the city, so completely ALONE. I have empathy for single parents, and think most of the judging is unwarranted.

    IMO, I think you should wait until he’s a bit older to cross the major intersection alone. Not because he can’t cross, but because there’s too many crappy drivers.

  204. BTW, for the person who wondered how people in the developing world trained their kids and assuming they didn’t run around soiled all the time —

    that’s because they learn to squat, anywhere outside, as soon as they can walk. At least in some places — I’ve seen it in Haiti. You don’t need to be potty-trained if there’s no expectation of using a potty, and I suppose the transition from “squatting wherever” to “squatting in the accepted place” is smaller than diapers to indoor plumbing.

  205. I love articles like this! We are currently on an around the world trip with our 2 1/2 year old daughter, moving from our old home in NJ to my native Australia. Most people seem amazed not just that we’re doing the trip (we are not rich by any means) but that we’re doing it with our daughter, including our own families, who tend to worry a lot. We’re almost on our 5th country of the trip, and so far so good – she’s loving the traveling life! Anyone who is interested in it (or general travel with little kids) can see our blog at http://www.beatlikekerouac.com.

  206. My mother likes to say that we moved from our house just as I was finally old enough to go to the corner store by myself…. the year was 1983 i was a month shy of 5 years old LMAO.
    now she wont let my 7 year old get in the car on the street side even though that’s where his seat is.

  207. I haven’t read all of the comments, but I see there are quite a few on toilet training. I just wanted to throw in my two cents on toilet training. Research has shown that even though babies used to be toilet trained a lot earlier 100 years ago, it also took a lot more time and effort on the part of the parent. (And if you’ve ever researched some of the methods used, it’s just sad.) :( You can certainly toilet train at a very young age, but I personally think that most parents aren’t delaying toilet training because they want their babies to remain babies, but simply because research has proven to them what they hoped was right in their hearts all along that they will eventually learn and that it’s actually much less stressful and time consuming if you wait until you see the signs they are ready. I had a friend who started toilet training her daughter at 18 months. She was so proud when she got it but for the next year she had accidents and it was off and on and a trying experience for them both. I, however, waited until my daughter showed me the signs she was ready and at 3 I saw those signs and she was fully daytime toilet trained in one day with only one accident. When you are dealing with cloth diapers you try to hurry the process along with whatever means you can, but sometimes it pays to just relax and follow your child’s lead. Here’s a link to one study that was done that shows it’s really not that beneficial to start early unless your child shows signs of being ready:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12671117

  208. Look, please don’t try to convince me (or anyone) that “early” potty training is wrong or bad or that I need to just wait for my son to be ready. If you want your child to learn to poop themselves on a regular basis, that’s your choice, but I don’t believe that’s healthy. I *HAVE* done extensive research on how potty training is done “early” in our history and in other parts of the world. (And in many places without toilet facilities, they DO still teach sanitary habits, as in you do your business in designated places, so it may not be a potty, but it’s not always just anywhere they feel like it.) Part of the shift is how acceptable an accident is seen. It’s okay if the child is wearing a diaper, but as soon as they put undies on it’s proof they’re not potty trained. Except, with undies, they’re using the potty a majority of the time, but it’s still somehow worse than pooping themselves all the time…?

    And, Elizabeth, your link, actually seems to prove my point, that it’s healthier for the child (less constipation, stool-holding, power struggle, illness, etc.) Personally, I’m willing to take extra time for the health of my child. And that’s the thing the article misses as well– since it’s “okay” these days to let a child poop and pee themselves (because it’s contained in a diaper) then that’s better than taking the time to train them earlier. Though, I do question the sample size– 406 children is a VERY small sample, and may not be a good cross section of potty training ages/ completion rates. There’s a A LOT of evidence on the health benefits of early potty training, but only the convenience and duration seem to play into the delay.

    The thing is, that culturally, it’s considered bad to do it early, with people always trying to talk early-birds out of it. Just wait, they say, your child will be better off… unless they get a UTI or get into a power struggle. My SIL has to BRIBE her child to do what should be normal and healthy… the little girl is three. We keep our children in diapers, and a child who was in diapers only last year certainly can’t be trusted to climb the stairs or play unsupervised, right? I think that these shifting milestones may be related to an overall cultural infantiliztion– we push hard to keep our children as babies. I hear that it’s hard to watch our children grow up, but so far I don’t understand why… I’m really looking forward myself to continuing to see what sort of man my little boy will grow into.

  209. The article actually said: “Younger age at initiation of intensive toilet training was not associated with constipation, stool withholding, or stool toileting refusal.” It did NOT say there was LESS constipation or stool with holding if you did it younger. ;) I’m sure you just misread it as an honest mistake. And there are A LOT more studies like this that show while you can train them younger it does DIRECTLY correlate with it being a LONGER process. Certainly I am not trying to talk you out of toilet training your child at a younger age. If your child can do it with no trouble, then that means they are READY, which is what I said. :/ However if they are “potty trained” and still having significant accidents, (as in daily), then that is NOT fully potty trained. That means they are still in the process. Certainly if someone wishes to keep cleaning up urine and feces off furniture, clothes, rugs, etc all day, then by all means keep doing it. As long as there is no spanking or suppositories being given, as the olden time methods often entailed, then there is nothing wrong with it. But for others who wish to wait until they are PHYSICALLY and DEVELOPMENTALLY ready (it needs to be both), then they will have a much easier and shorter time of it. (Both my husband and father in law are pediatricians and they have both seen this scenario over and over and agrees that if you wait for the signs it will be an easy, quick process but if you don’t you will be in for a much longer process. It’s all about knowing your child.) They may be ready anywhere from 12 months (highly unusual) to 36 months and beyond. But we should not choose to judge those who choose to wait. I just feel bad for those mommies who try so hard to toilet train their 18 month old for months and fail and then think something is wrong with them or their child. It’s really no big deal. They’ll do it eventually and it has nothing to do with wanting to keep them as babies longer. (After all, who really likes to change poopy diapers?) LOL ;)

  210. In my limited experience, I’ve learned you can start potty training them at 18 months old, and they’ll be done by 3 years old. Or, you can wait and start training them at 3 years old, and they’ll be done in 3 days. I opted for the 3-day process with my second rather than the 18-month process I’d undergone with my first. To each his own, and call it laziness if you will, but beating your head against a wall for 18 months to ultimately achieve the same result as not beating your head against the wall…

  211. Sky, in fairness, I had a two year old that I started training right around her second birthday, and she was done in about a week. The next one I delayed a bit until maybe around 2 1/2 (the third arrived just before his 2nd birthday) and he didn’t get the hang of things until well past 3, with a LOT of hassle along the way and bed-wetting well past the “normal” age for it. Perhaps unsurprisingly, #1 is the self-motivated one who sets personal goals and does what’s necessary to achieve them with very little parental help, #2 is the one I have to keep kicking in the pants (although in fairness to him, he’s not undisciplined in his work, just not very aspirational.) Maybe it’s not like this for everybody, but in my experience, potty training is as much as matter of the child, as of the timing and the method. Kids aren’t *that* different at 2 from the way they are at 16.

  212. My child trained at 2 and was trained within a week. She’s never had an accident since. When I was a child ALL children were 100% trained right around 2 – not with a many accidents but potty trained. It was unheard of to wait longer. Has this generation become more developmentally slow than prior generations?

    I do think the trend to infanticize children as long as possible plays out in potty training. But I think there are other things at play. First, the smaller families. Parents in earlier generations didn’t have time to have a bunch of kids in diapers. You needed the previous kid out of diapers before the baby was born. Second, the advent of disposable diapers and their great improvement. A child in cloth diapers feels wet and uncomfortable. Disposable diapers from most of our baby days were bulky and not much less wet and uncomfortable than cloth. Todays diapers are heaven for children. They are dry, thin and comfortable. What motivation is there for kids to potty train? All potty training means is that they now have to stop playing to go potty. Hell, if it weren’t socially unacceptable I could go for diapers at times (not really but it’d be a whole lot more convenient). And Pull Ups are the worst invention in the world for actually potty training children.

    My daughter trained quickly and at a youngish age (1st in her class) because once I started she never wore a diaper again. She had showed no interest in the potty at the time and didn’t show many “signs of readiness.” I didn’t try to coax her or get her interested in pottying. I simply woke her up one day, told her it was time to use the potty, threw her diapers away and put her into panties. It only took a morning of pee running down her legs for her to have the desire to go to the potty. She wore Pull Ups at night for awhile. Interestingly, if I would forget to put one on, no accidents. If I put a Pull Up on – her diaper (and that is what they are) was ALWAYS wet in the morning. So even in her SLEEP, she knew that she could be lazy in a diaper and not in panties.

  213. But I don’t hear anyone saying, “I started my kid potty training at 9 months and… ” I have to wonder how much the story would change if we weren’t trying to potty train toddlers. It’s always stories of waiting later and later, not starting earlier. But WHY? Why not start before the child gets opinionated? Just make it as natural as, well, a diaper?

    I’m not trying to judge, and apologize if it comes off that way, but I really don’t understand the shift from then to now. I keep running into people who insist that delaying potty training is the way to go, and I don’t understand the reasoning. How would I know that, if I started at 18 months, that he wouldn’t pick it up quickly, and thus save us both the trouble of diapering for another 18 months– unless I try? That’s like saying, well, kids don’t eat fish, so don’t feed them fish… except kids in many cultures do eat fish (or starve), and you never know if your kid will eat fish unless you let them try.

    @Elizabeth– true, it says younger age does not include the health problems. It suggests (and I’ve read many other studies that prove) that older children DO have more trouble with health problems. Here’s one link: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2023965/Potty-training-lead-children-having-weak-bladder.html. There is a great deal of evidence that suggests late training is increasing the risk of problems that early training doesn’t have.

  214. You young mothers make me smile. Toilet training your baby isn’t something to brag about, and yet it has been for generations. Mothers love to compare their children and pass judgement on others over the sillest things. Who really cares how old you toilet train? It’s really something you will laugh at when you get older. It has no bearing on how good of a job you are doing as a mother or how smart your child is. I raised 12 children back in a time that supposedly people toilet trained so early. (Maybe they did but it wasn’t an issue where we lived.) I had a few of my babies train at 18 months and one as late as 3 1/2! (And that was in the 1940’s. Shocking, right?) Also, take my word for it. If you had another baby and you still had one in diapers, then you simply had two in diapers. A few pushy, what you ladies would call “helicopter type” moms who worried about everything would push them along, but for the majority it wasn’t anything to stress about. Don’t believe everything you read about how it used to be, ladies. Also, to be perfectly honest, I did not notice a difference in the intelligence of my late trainers and my early ones. In fact, my 3 1/2 year old trainer ended up in Harvard on a scholarship! Well, that’s all I have to say.

  215. lol Donna, in regards to cloth being wet and uncomfortable, about a month ago my girl did her business on the potty and I offered her a diaper after, she refused and went about her cruising the furniture, it took about 5 mins and 3 bare bum drops for her to come and take the cloth diaper and motion to me to put it on! I guess she realized how the cushy they are;)

    socalledauthor, my baby girl is just under 1 year so it has been under 3 mths since she started going on the potty, but I don’t really consider it “potty training” I just give her the lead and follow as best as I can. She uses diapers most of the day, but if she shows interest in her potty or the bathroom I will give her that option, she is not walking yet so I have to help her, if we are out she is in a diaper for my own convenience but at home or at the cottage she always has the option. I am sure it will take a long time before she is fully “trained” by anyone’s standards, but I cant stand the thought of her sitting in her own excrement for anytime if possible. I guess its a cross between EC and cloth that I am doing now, we do what works for us and are open to change if we see a need. I am positive it will take ages to be complete, I am in no way expecting this to be done anytime soon, but I have no issue putting in that time.

  216. Mabel, by no means am I trying to “brag” I just think it is nice to have different options available, and the internet is a great way to share those options with other people who may not have thought it was a possibility. I don’t have any opinion on how long anyone wants to wait or start training, whatever works for you in your situation is fine by me.

  217. “Canadian researchers say that children who only start learning when they are two or older do not have enough time to master controlling their bladder before they go to school.”

    I wasn’t going to comment but I read the link provided by socalledautho, (where the above quote is taken from), and I have to say this article is far reaching rubbish and exactly the sort of “scare tactic” used by so many people to tell us that we need to control and push our kids more or “terrible things will happen”. (Like letting them play outside unsupervised will increase their risk of being snatched.) Nearly everyone you meet is toilet trained at 2 years old and later and you don’t see a bunch of accidents in school. (Unless we’re talking about the other modern anti free range trend of putting your 2 year old in preschool. Remember the days they were home playing freely and didn’t start school until Kindergarten?) I have 6 kids and they were all potty trained between 2 and 3 and not one had bladder issues or trouble controlling their bladder. I waited until I felt they were ready and then it took anywhere between one and 3 days for all of them. Simple, easy, no hassle. I have no issues with those that want to spend lots of time on it, but it wasn’t for us and unbeliveably all our kids turned out just fine, LOL.

  218. Nora, sweetie, I was not referring you to when I was talking about some of the mothers here being a bit judgemental and bragging. You sounded like you were truely just sharing. But some of the comments on here seemed like they were saying that if their child could be potty trained at a certain young age using certain methods, which are the whole reason their child potty trained at that age, then any child could. Therefore if your child wasn’t then you must be “babying” them or not trying hard enough, which is hogwash. I also agree with Sarah. These so called “experts” are always telling us one thing or another and it changes every few years going back and forth on their “theories”. Just know your baby and use common sense. Mother’s intuition is a real thing and better than any expert advice.

  219. I didn’t really take your post as directed towards me personally, but I was typing my post after you posted yours so I only saw your comment after I posted mine so I guess that made me want to comment again lol… I have been misread many times online so I was not sure…

  220. Like often happens here, there is confusion between (a) telling people what to do and (b) disagreeing with advice about what people should do. I don’t tell anyone that they should potty train as early as I did. I am very glad I did, but if it’s not for you, so be it. But what bugs me is the “expert advice” that tells inexperienced moms that they would be wrong, even hurting their child, if they did what I did. That it doesn’t work at all and only makes everyone miserable. This advice, which is everywhere nowadays, is not only wrong, it’s harmful. I’ve seen people see their kids show “signs of readiness” but the parents are afraid to try potty training, convinced it will not work and will make things harder in the long run. The only people benefiting from such fear are the owners of diaper manufacturers.

    Now let’s think outside the box for a minute. Could you imagine wearing a diaper on your dog instead of training him to go outside and do his business? Would that even be considered humane? Now think about how much society has affected the way we look at baby/toddler elimination.

  221. My children walk to and from school every day. Dozens of other children in our neighborhood do the same. My 5th grader picks up my Kindergartner and they walk the 3/4 mile home together. We live in a wonderful neighborhood that was built in 1951. The houses are not too big, the yards are small but nice, and there is a great feeling of community. My husband and I have lived in our home for 10 years and we are raising 4 children. We are constantly asked by our friends who live in large houses in the suburbs why we don’t “upgrade” to a newer larger house. I just tell them that we have found the ultimate place to raise a family and we aren’t willing to give it up. I am so grateful that my kids can walk to their elementary, middle school and high school from our home. They love being outside and they have made friends, helped each other and learned many lessons from having this simple freedom.

  222. Some one mentioned why don’t we hear stories on starting potty training earlier and earlier, and that made me think of a story I heard a couple of years ago about moms training babies at I think 3 months or earlier.

    In actuality, I think it was more like some mothers here, the ones it worked for were the ones who had super regular babies and they could hold them over the potty to go at the appropriate time. However, like my ducks and geese, the babies had no actual control over the muscles until a much older age. (Ducks and geese have no control. Which is why some people put diapers on them when they have them as house pets. Unless you time it so that they come in for the 15 minutes between going.)

    But, I do think that the library where I used to live had this series. I remember reading it because my daughter and her best friend were having friend issues, with fighting, and at this stage girls tend to be two is fine, three is a crowd, and the friend, an only, couldn’t stand it when my boys butted their way in. I do recall some of the other stuff that Lenore mentions too. And based on the neighborhood we lived in, she could do all of the things listed, although, I admit, I was not as free range, and though the park was around the corner, it was an excuse for me to get out and talk to other adults while the kids ran wild.

  223. “Now let’s think outside the box for a minute. Could you imagine wearing a diaper on your dog instead of training him to go outside and do his business? Would that even be considered humane? Now think about how much society has affected the way we look at baby/toddler elimination.”

    If you have raised puppies, then you know that you keep them in a little pen and frequently change the bedding so that they do not get used to the feces/pee being there and so they will come to dislike the smell. (I don’t think even think elimination advocates would recommend putting your baby in a crib with nothing on to poo and pee all over itself. THAT would be inhumane.) However, it’s still a while before they are really trained. A lot of puppies are not FULLY trained until they are 6 months old. Since one year of puppy life is the same as one year of human life that would make them 3.5 years old in our life. Ha ha ha. Sorry, I just had to point that out. :) Seriously, though, you can’t compare puppies to infants and the mother dog does not carry her puppy to his “toilet” or outdoors everytime he has to go. He goes wherever he is and you have to wait until he is a bit older before you can train him otherwise. (He has to be able to walk, for one thing.) And I think the main reason you don’t see tiny puppies in diapers is not because it’s inhumane, (on the contrary, it would be a whole lot more humane for the mother and siblings not to have to be around the waste until you get it cleaned up), but the real reason is what to do with those pesky tails. ;)

  224. Sarah, my point was that the thought of a dog wearing a device that holds its pee and poo unnaturally against its skin is a gross thought. Yet we’ve gotten quite comfortable with the idea of a toddler walking around that way. We force them to tolerate this when they have no choice, and then because they get used to it, we start thinking we’re doing it for their own good.

    As for your example of dogs being 6 months old before they are housetrained – that is another thing created by humans via breeding. The dogs that are closest to their wild ancestors start toddling outside to potty (if given access) almost as soon as they can walk. And also, their mothers don’t leave them lying in crap before that age.

  225. My son was born in 1980. He was given the run of just about everywhere.

    He’s coming back out to CA for a reunion of neighborhood kids (about 25 of them) that used to run around together back in the 80’s and 90’s. I doubt that will happen for subsequent generations!

  226. “As for your example of dogs being 6 months old before they are housetrained – that is another thing created by humans via breeding. The dogs that are closest to their wild ancestors start toddling outside to potty (if given access) almost as soon as they can walk. And also, their mothers don’t leave them lying in crap before that age.”

    You’re right that their mother’s don’t leave them lying in their feces. The wild dogs/wolves will actually EAT their feces. (As will the puppies when they are old enough.) Disgusting but true. They actually make products for owners of dogs to use to deter them from eating their own feces. Again, my point that comparing humans to dogs is ALSO unatural. We are different. God made us that way. And 6 months old is NOT created by humans via breeding. Dogs can’t open doors. So they have to learn not only to go outside but to tell us they need to go. In the wild they would just wander to a different area a few steps away to go. That can’t be done in a home unless you designate a corner of your kitchen as the dog’s toileting area, which would be highly disgusting. So we have to make them be able to communicate und understand the only place to go is outside and not just any area other than its sleeping quarters, as is done in the wild. The wild mother dog does not train her wild puppies to use a certain area. They only learn not to go where they sleep, (because they naturally do not like to sleep in their own feces, not because they are being trained. If they do go there they will happily eat it to clean it up.) Pet dogs do this, as well. They don’t go where they sleep as soon as they are old enough. They will go on your living room rug or chair. So no different than the ones living in the wild, except we have to go a step beyond and teach them that the ONLY acceptable place is outside, which is why it takes a bit longer. ;)

  227. Sorry, I said “my point” and I meant “Sarah’s point”. He he he. I just remember my mother raising dogs and learning all about them.

  228. Mabel, yes, they eat it at the very beginning, and no, I have no desire to eat my kids’ poop. But as for the ability to go outside, that depends on how you design their area. My sister is a breeder of GSDs and she has a doggy door that the puppies can use (leading to a safe outdoor area). You are right, they don’t need to be trained to not want to lie in their feces. That is natural. What I don’t understand is why we think human nature is to want to lie in our feces until forced to do otherwise.

  229. SKL, I was wondering if you would mind sharing more about how to practice elimination communication. It’s a new concept for me. I would imagine from the way you speak you are against diapering your babies. So do you sleep next to them, (also very natural and the way done in nature), and then as they eliminate throughout the night you wake every hour and clean it up so they are lying in there waste as little as possible? What about the day? To me it would seem very difficult to embrace the practice unless you lived in a 3rd world country where you literally stayed outside all day working and the baby peed/pooped wherever, which would seem natural, but also unsanitary, which is one of the reasons there is disease problems we don’t have here. Or do you only agree with the concept, but find it difficult to practice so you modify it in a more sanitary way? I am not judging but truly interested in knowing more about what you do. Thanks!

  230. Elizabeth, there are a lot of online resources for Elimination Communication. They would answer all of your questions and then some. While my family doesn’t practice it, I know many people who do and they didn’t let their children lie in their waste or wake every hour at night. Instead of reacting after their children eliminate they learn the cues that their children give *before* they go then get them to a toilet in time. EC isn’t about training the child or about letting them go willy-nilly, it’s about the parent learning their child’s cues and responding efficiently.

  231. Elizabeth, I suggest that if you are really interesting in trying EC, you could google it and also “diaper-free baby.”

    My personal reality is that I adopted my kids and they came home at 9mos and 12mos. They were in diapers but I started putting them on the potty soon after they came home – once per day at first – and made noises to communicate to them what to do, which they instinctively understood. I watched for their body signals and began to put them on the potty when they were likely to go. In short, I followed the EC concepts but at a later time. I didn’t immediately ditch the diapers, but the girls gradually transitioned to holding it until the proper time and place. My eldest didn’t need a “boot camp” but just eventually hit the mark 100% of the time around age 1.5. My younger needed the boot camp to become aware that she could control her pee.

    For the record, contrary to various comments above, my kids never peed on me and never wet themselves in public. There were a couple of puddles early on (at home) when the nanny was in charge. But, she didn’t approve of my early training, and wasn’t the best facilitator in that regard. And a couple of accidents are certainly not enough to argue against the method.

    I would try EC if I had a child from birth, but I have not actually had that experience.

  232. Elimination communication includes paying close attention to a baby’s signs (which apparently can be a toe wiggle, a grimace, or whatever) that he or she is going to eliminate. There is ample evidence that children know when they are eliminating– because they do have to open the muscles– the pee or poop doesn’t just leak out, the muscles have to be voluntarily opened from birth. As they eliminate, the parent makes a ssssss sound. Soon, in a very pavlovian way, the child learns to eliminate when the sound is given and not otherwise. This is practiced in places where they don’t diaper the baby at all, because, again, even tribal people know that wastes are unsanitary.

    I didn’t do this because I’m just not that aware of my son (even as a breastfeeding mom, I could never tell when my son was hungry, or just moving his mouth, but he lived anyway.) I diapered my son (in disposables, gasp!) BUT I don’t want to prolong the use of diapering any more than necessary. I see diapers as generally necessary in the beginning because of the convenience, but I’m not interested in keeping my son in the habit of pooping or peeing himself.

    Now, I understand the convenience of diapers and that potty training early does take longer. I’m with SKL that there’s a push against parents who buck the trend on potty training. Every time I mention that we’re potty training my son– currently 14 months– I’m told, “Gasp! That’s WAY too early! You can’t do that!” Why? “It’s not right/ It’s not good for him/ It’s too early.”

    Lastly, anecdotes are not facts. Just as I don’t use the story or two I hear on the news or from people who know someone who was abducted to change my position regarding the facts that such things are rare, I don’t use a few anecdotes to tell me that potty training late is both without problem and the best thing to do. Instead, I prefer to read the studies and literature that take data (facts, surveys, and other published information) that show that 1) early potty training healthier for all and 2) early potty training can work easily. Every kid who eats raw eggs will not get salmonella (I never did eating cookie dough!) and every toddler who trains at 3 years old will not have UTIs, stool holding, or power issues, but there is an increased risk that I would rather avoid, if possible, by not eating raw eggs and by hopefully potty training my son early.

  233. “Pentamom, I read your point, but I don’t think those issues are significantly more likely with a child who trains early.”

    No, I don’t think they are either. I’m just saying they’re a motivation for procrastination, and if someone perceives that they’re a bigger pain than changing a few diapers a day, that’s why they might delay training.

    Procrastination rarely arises out of a completely rational assessment of the situation,– all I’m saying is that it’s a normal human reaction and I can see why someone might dread that issues I’ve mentioned and opt to just keep changing diapers a while longer. I mean, that’s BEEN me!

  234. I will say that for several months (about 15-19mos), I was on high alert, especially when I took the girls out. We stopped at restrooms everywhere we went and if it had been much more than 30 minutes since our last stop, I started feeling stressed. It took extra time, yes, for those few months.

    But there are many things I never had to do. I never had to leave a gathering or leave the table because my child had just stunk up the place. I never had to pack a diaper bag after they were 1.5. I didn’t have a location in my house for poopy diapers. Never dealt with diaper rash. Never had a diarrhea blowout diaper, never had poop on my kids’ clothing or bedding. My kids didn’t play power games with me over potty training. When my kids went to preschool/daycare at 2.5, I didn’t receive peed clothes in a bag at the end of the day like the other parents who waited to train. I saved a lot of $$, and I’m pretty sure that if you add up all the things I didn’t have to deal with after my kids were independent / communicating their needs, it would more than outweigh the extra effort I put in while they were training.

    So you choose what you want to do, but I wish people would stop scaring folks who want to give it a try before age 2 or 3. Why do people do that, anyway? Do they want to make sure other people’s kids don’t do something earlier than their kids? Actually, I get that in other areas, too. My kids are generally early at most things because I encourage them to try. Whether it’s bike riding or shoe tying or cutting their own meat, reactions are most often negative or “shocked.” Why not just be happy for me that I have one less thing to worry about for the future?

  235. “Lastly, anecdotes are not facts. Just as I don’t use the story or two I hear on the news or from people who know someone who was abducted to change my position regarding the facts that such things are rare, I don’t use a few anecdotes to tell me that potty training late is both without problem and the best thing to do. Instead, I prefer to read the studies and literature that take data (facts, surveys, and other published information) that show that 1) early potty training healthier for all and 2) early potty training can work easily. Every kid who eats raw eggs will not get salmonella (I never did eating cookie dough!) and every toddler who trains at 3 years old will not have UTIs, stool holding, or power issues, but there is an increased risk that I would rather avoid, if possible, by not eating raw eggs and by hopefully potty training my son early.”

    But if these situations are rare, isn’t that the same as being scared of other issues that we try to tell others to “relax” about as free range parents. (Like being scared of the risk of someone snatching yor child so you never let them out of sight.) There is ABSOLUTELY nothing wrong with toilet training your baby at 14 months of age and no one should tell you otherwise. (As long as you are sensible about it and don’t get after him when he fails, which I assume you do not.) But there’s also nothing wrong with waiting for them to be a bit older and get it done quicker. (Research shows they learn much quicker the older they are.) I just wouldn’t let fears of a very RARE possibility of there being health issues cause me to spend months and even years trying to toilet train a 12 month old. (If you read the studies they are flimsy and I can’t seem to find any ACTUAL STATISTICS of how many have these problems that suddenly appeared after a certain age of not being toilet trained or that imply waiting CAUSED any of these issues. Perhaps some issues were there to begin with and that’s why the child coudn’t train earlier?) Otherwise we’d see more kids with these issues since virtually every child you meet is toilet trained at 2 or later, which is what the article hypothesized as being too late. I haven’t met one child with these issues that only appeared after 2. One of my daughters struggled with consipation but it started at 15 months and we found the reason to be a milk intolerence. Once we took her off milk products (and she was still being breasfed, as well), it cleared right up. She then toilet trained in one day at 2 years and 4 months with no problems. Likewise I wouldn’t let the minute risk of salmonella poisoning get in the way of licking the bowl after making cookies. After all it has been a rite of childhood for generations. ;)

  236. @Joe Murray: The boy’s face appeared on the milk carton in nineteen eighty-four. Since then, it has become more and more true that past events have no objective existence, but survive only in written records and in human memories. The past is whatever the records and memories agree upon. Though the past is alterable, it has never been altered in any specific instance. For when it has been recreated in whatever shape is needed at the moment, then this new version IS the past, and no different past can ever have existed. You must hold two contradictory beliefs in your mind simultaneously, and accept both of them. You must tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, and forget any fact that has become inconvenient. (quote is from Orwell’s 1984.

  237. Today I asked my 8 year old and 4.5 year old to stay on the one side of a rather busy road while I crossed it to get keys from my hubbie on the other side.

    I could feel the disapproval fron some onlookers and felt guilty and that I was being irresponsible.

  238. SKL – If you have coyotes in the neighborhood, give the children paintball guns and slingshots and have them shoot the coyotes … hassle them until they learn a bit of fear of humans.

    Yes, coyotes have been known to attack humans, but they are more likely to be after pets, per food and garbage. Just don’t let the small children play alone. If they see a coyote, run towards it, shrieking and making a lot of noise and throwing rocks to discourage it. It’s looking for an easy target, not prey that might hurt it.

  239. Well put, Sarah. There’s a difference between advocating for our own way to be acceptable, and predicting all kinds of horrors based on something like when you choose to potty train.

    Personally, potty training at 9 months makes little sense to me. What good does it do to train a child who can’t get to the toilet by himself anyway? I know, it gets them out of diapers. But that, in itself, was never a value to me, even during those intermittent times when I used cloth. That is to say, I didn’t hate washing diapers more than I would have hated trying to figure out when a pre-verbal, non-ambulatory child needed to get to the bathroom.

    Again, that’s just my personal opinion and I have no criticism to offer anyone who thinks differently. But I suspect I’m not alone in considering the mere absence of diapers, as opposed to truly independent personal sanitation, as having little value.

  240. Trying to close italics.

  241. Pentamom– how did you know when to feed your child? Did you always wait until they cried? Or did you eventually fall into a routine with more or less set times to eat that they got used to. Early potty training includes routine times to potty, which help overcome any problems with communication. The kid gets used to going potty on schedule, which is also healthy.

    While I don’t understand waiting, I don’t begrudge anyone who thinks it best for their family. There’s a point where we each have to decide what works best. IMNHO, that decision should also be built on facts, not just feeling, but it doesn’t always work out that way. I tend to question how things are done, and methods with sound reasoning appeal more to me than those with weaker reasoning. I haven’t found any good evidence that waiting is better for the kid, though my research found that starting earlier does have benefits that align with my beliefs.

    Sometimes it feels that people who are on one side of an issue feel the need to defend their position when in discussion with those who believe a different position. It’s as if by stating, for example, that I don’t believe in waiting until age 3 (as is the current AAP recommendation) to potty train, because I don’t like me son learning to soil himself– those who DID wait feel they have defend the fact that they did wait. My beliefs are somehow an attack on their beliefs, even when not intended. I’m still not convinced that late potty training and the notion that children are far less capable than their historical counterparts are not culturally linked as we keep children “babies” longer…. this may not be the case for everyone, but cultural influence, imho, are hard to pinpoint. It just becomes “how things are done.” Doesn’t mean that every, or any, parent who practices late potty training is going to believe their child is incapable of other things that previously were considered age appropriate. But is there a correlation?

    Did we make too many comments or something? Things are a little screwy!

  242. At my campus Kinders & PK have to be picked up by a family member. That family member can be a 1st grader. 1 – 5 are walked around the parking lots (one in front one in back) to the apartments on either side.

    We lay the ground work for multiplication in K – 2, by skip counting (2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9, & 10)

    Our district has had a lightening moment. We are being directed to introduce more play and problem solving into our classes. I had my 2nd graders out on the floor “playing” with magnets Thursday. My principal walked in and loved it. (They figured out the basic principal of a maglift.)

  243. No, we didn’t make too many comments. The guy who mentioned 1984 forgot to close his tags! That shouldn’t be a problem, except the commenting system is set up so that if he doesn’t close HIS tags, the rest of us are screwed.

  244. (And yet, as pentamom discovered, you can’t close the tags yourself on a later comment. Sheesh. Bad, bad design on wordpress’s part here!)

  245. @Kristen: I have to ask why it matters that a ‘black male’ tried to pick you up? Would you have been compliant if he were caucasian? You behaved responsibly in regards to your own personal safety and that of your younger brother. Quite admirable. Has nothing to do with race.

  246. For the record, the #1 reason I tried EC so soon after my kids got home? They were pooping in the tub at bathtime. I was originally planning to wait until they had been home awhile. But, poop in the tub was incentive enough for me to give it a try. I already had bought the “little potties” and had read up on EC, which gave me ideas on how to be successful early instead of fear that it would be a waste of time at best.

    So for those who can’t think of any reason to start earlier – there’s a reason for ya. I hope your kids didn’t poop in the bathtub as often as mine did at first (dang, one or the other was doing it every day). But perhaps you can relate to my decision to start when I did.

  247. [...] As Recently as 1979, A First Grader Could… – Another eye-opener from Free-Range Kids.  It makes me sad that parents prevent their kids from doing simple things which are, in any sane reality, completely safe.  Guess I’m really on a freedom-for-children kick this week. [...]

  248. On walking and biking- at 7 I was riding my bike several miles, on main roads, and walking all over. I refuse to keep my son penned in, as street smarts are vital, and cannot be learned if trapped at home, supervised. The world is safer than it’s been in a long time, thats a fact. Even if it wasn’t, not allowing a kid to learn how to live in it isn’t helping anyone. The obsessive focus on total safety is what makes parents anxious. My mom never was, and I ran the neighborhood until dark every day!

    On Schools- they are suppose to teach academics, and ideally, wouldn’t interfere with my teaching life skills. Good academics are important these days, but aren’t more I portent than critical thinking and being able to take care of yourself. Schools do a good job considering what they have to work with. Teachers are among the most disrespected, and blamed of professions. They are not magical, they do the best they can in most cases.

    On EC- EC is basically parent training. Fine, if you want to do it, my son wouldn’t tolerate being held over the potty, so we didnt. I have a friend that EC’s her DD, and gets most pees and poos in the potty, but still uses diapers. My kid spends much of his day playing Independently, so I don’t know his “cues” like someone that was attached to them all day.

    On “the diaper industry”- why does everything have to be this big profit motive conspiracy? You never considered that diaper makers created new, easy to use, comfy diapers because *parents* wanted them? I use cloth, for the cuteness and huge cost savings, but disposables are awesome. Parents don’t use them be use they are lazy, they use them because they are easier and more convenient. What’s wrong with this?

    On potty training (or learning)- I just don’t see why anyone cares what someone else does. You cannot tell what kid learned early, and which were late, once they are school age. Kids may have been trained earlier in some cases, 100 yrs ago, but many of the methods would be frowned on today. Since when is something better just because it happened in the “old days” anyway?

    On my kid- My MIL swears both my DH and his brother were trained at one year, but when I look at my son, I just don’t see how, as he’s so far from having a clue about when he goes. Of course I hope he trains early, and am putting him on the potty now (he is 1) hoping he catches on, but if not, oh well. Im not gonna kill myself to make it happen.

    And I just had to comment on a few things:

    Dolly says: “Just like when you are trying to stop abortions…”
    Maybe, just maybe, you could MYOB? Ever think of that? Being nice is always better, but not sticking your nose into a strangers life in the first place is much more appropriate. You can’t take the risks of labor and delivery, or the responsibility, for the kid, so bug out.

    Kristen: was his being black relevant to the possible crime? I don’t see what race has to do with it. I will assume you meant it descriptively. Good job being attentive and reacting safely!

  249. Love the article. I too will have to check out the references. On the idea of a 6-year-old walking a few blocks, just last week I was driving down our very safe street (2km long or so) and I saw a pair of wee boys, (brothers by the looks of them), one about 5 and the other 6ish, walking along to school hand-in-hand, the older one appearing to be lecturing the younger one about something quite serious, LOL! No adult in sight. Long may such things last…..

  250. I think early potty training sounds great. I’m not doing it myself, my daughter in 10 months, but I imagine once she is walking I will start trying, so I imagine sometime in the fall. I figure at first I’ll put her on the little potty and show her how to sit, and then if she poops or pees I’ll cheer wildly.

    Gotta confess I cannot see any bathroom cues to save my life. Gotten oeed on a few times,,,,

  251. kherbert, I love to hear that your district has had that revelation! Especially since when my toddler goes to kindergarten I will have to choose between no recess or play centers and paying $6k for private school. Meanwhile the public school teachers are *begging* for recess and independent discovery time to be reintroduced, even if it means extending the day without additional pay.

  252. When I was 8 years old, in 1989 in Austria, I went to my elementary school unattended after having practiced the way with my parents for a couple weeks. It involved a 4-stop streetcar ride, crossing two streets and walking a couple blocks. It was normal!
    After school, I was supposed to come home immediately, but especially when I was 8 or 9, me and my classmates would sometimes play on a plaza a few blocks from my school before going home. My parents lectured me on this (there were no cell phones! ;-)), but again, it was normal.

  253. I meant to say, when I was 6 years old! :-)

  254. Another blogger mom in need of Lenore’s information and education about fostering children’s independence. http://www.zookbooknook.com/

  255. Got spammed with this petition:

    http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/773/871/362/

    felt so mad, I just had to post it! Please note, how the authors of this text can’t even imagine kids being outside by themselves! Duty to keep your kids outdoors just gets added to the long list of parental duties – as it should be between 0 and 5 years of age, maybe, but certainly not later!

  256. Jane, I’m confused by your statements. Are you saying that after 5 years of age kids should NOT be outdoors?

  257. She’s saying that the text shouldn’t read “I, as a grownup, will go outside for the sake of the children“, implying that children NEED to have grown-ups with them to go outside.

  258. I think Jane means that after about 5 years kids don’t need to be supervised all the time like the site says.

  259. Stacy: Umm where did I say “I” try to talk anyone out of abortions? Unless it is someone I personally know and they invite me into that discussion I could care less who does or does not get abortions. I am pro choice legally. I was just using that as an example, that people respond better to being talked to nicely and calmly and not being harassed or belittled. I think the comparison worked just fine.

  260. As far as the daycare’s rules about not allowing us to potty train them till at least 2, that was the state’s rules. The state comes up with the rules from pediatricians, lawyers, childcare experts, child psychologists, etc.

    Some of the rules were for legal reasons. Some for proper care of the child mentally and physically reasons. I was never told WHY that rule was what it was. I was just told that was the rule. They actually had bathrooms built into the 1 year old to 1 1/2 year old room and the 1 1/2 to 2 year old room, but they were not allowed to use them. They functioned as closets and extra hand washing sinks. They were not allowed to use the potty.

    Most parents had ZERO problem with this though because they left the potty training up to us anyway. We did all the hard labor when it came to the potty training their kids. We were the ones that said when it was time to start and we worked with them all day long and the parents just followed up at home. Often the parents would put diapers back on them to go home because either they were not ready or they wanted us to get them good with it at daycare and then they could just reap the benefits of our work afterwards.

  261. What Sky said above about early potty training. If it works great, but from everyone I know that claims they have done it, it took a long long time before it was actually truly mastered. If you want to do it and it works, hooray for you! But that was not for me and I try to warn other moms away from it when they ask my advice.

  262. Dolly, I was with you until your last sentence, “I try to warn other moms away.” I wish you wouldn’t. Maybe you don’t personally know anyone who has been successful at earlier potty training, but there is plenty of experience out there to show that it can work, and that many people are happy to have gone that route. It’s not something to fear. If someone asks me, I will say “it’s up to you, but this was my experience (good and bad).”

    My sister has a 20mo girl and she brings this up with me all the time. I think whe wants me to talk her into it. But I will not tell her what she “should” do. I believe her daughter probably “can” learn, but the real question is how committed the parents are, and she’s the only person who can answer that. I do tell her what I did and that I’m very glad I did it.

  263. I think one reason why pediatricians recommend starting later is that there are so many news stories of young parents beating the crap out of tots for potty training accidents. If everyone thinks their kid ought to be using the toilet at age 2, then some people are going to go too far. Of course, some people are just going to go too far, period. I sat in at the trial of a man who killed a 7-year-old for drinking milk from the fridge, because that was meant for the baby. But back to 2-year-olds. The terrible twos. The age when some children will look right at you and do something bad (including crapping in their pants) just because you pissed them off. Even though they know they will get punished for it. Toddlers are crazy, and immature parents can lose it on them. So some people see a pattern and decide that the recommended age for potty training needs to be higher. Somehow I don’t think that’s the answer to child abuse, but to be fair, I don’t know what is.

  264. Once upon a time, diapers over a certain size couldn’t be found in stores. Then the sizes get bigger, and bigger and bigger. Do parents pester the company and ask for them, or assume that because they’re there, the product should be uesd? I see a LOT of evidence on the latter. A big example is the introduction of toddler formula. Infants use infant formula to help them get balanced nutrition, but toddlers should be eating solids, ideally regular food, and getting a reasonably balanced diet that way. I suspect that the formula industry saw a “problem” that they realized they could offer a solution too. At this time, it’s not recommended to use toddler formula, as most doctors think it’s unnecessary, but I have already encountered numerous moms with toddlers who think that they should be buying it– the rationale is “why would the company sell it if my child doesn’t NEED it?”

    With diapers, I think it’s quite possible that parents saw them in the store in larger sizes and thought “well, we can wait until he’s too big for diapers,” which reinforces what many parents seem to want– as potty training is apparently this scary, stressful event. And then the pull ups come along, and in larger sizes, and so on.

    As for early potty training being parent training… I’m okay with that. To me, it beats the pail of feces stinking up the house (even taking the trash out every day, it’s still a pile of poop), the screaming and crying when I do catch the baby and change his diaper, and the cost, both financially and environmentally, of continued diapering. As a mother, I am also trained to be home for naps, to feed the baby at times regardless of my own schedule, and to respond to his cries. Besides, what’s so wrong with the parent being in charge until the child is able to take control? Have we become so child-centric as a nation, that the idea of a parent-centric family become scandalous?

    And serious, I am kind of upset that anyone would try to talk me out of early potty training (or any decision) unless I ask them what they think. Just because it didn’t work for you, or someone else, doesn’t mean that it can’t work for me. That’s really unfair to me to presume that my experience will be like yours, or that you have to “save” me from my decision. You may share your experiences, and I may ask you about how you did things, but please, out of respect for my intellect and preferences, do not assume I need you to save me from myself.

  265. I used to say “diaper free” instead of “potty trained.” That way it takes the emphasis off of who is actually “trained” (if you want to call it that).

    A diaper-free toddler is “trained” in the sense that (at the very least) he can and does (a) hold his pee/poo until the right time and place, and (b) release at the right time and place.

    As for parents being trained – are we saying that kids who start at age 3+ don’t require any parent involvement at all? Come on. Whenever you decide to go diaper-free, you are on heightened awareness until your kid has been 100% dry for a while. And also, aren’t you “trained” to go and change your kid when he poops, and periodically throughout the day? So far I’ve never met anyone who admits letting their kid sit in it until the parent is in the mood to change them. And aren’t you “trained” to buy the diapers, wash/dispose of them, pack the diaper bag, etc.?

    As for larger diapers – I find it almost perverted that they have “GoodNights” diapers large enough to fit me – not in the medical supply section, but in the baby diaper section.

  266. Amazingly, I *just* had an argument on facebook over this same issue. I happen to let my 6 yr old, 1st grader walk to the drugstore and back… this is all of 3 blocks. OMG! The horror! He could get kidnapped by a pedophile and killed! *Facepalm* I am proud to be a mom of a free range kid.

  267. socalledauthor, you said you did not appreciate people trying to tell you that your way is not right, yet earlier in your comment you said:

    “Once upon a time, diapers over a certain size couldn’t be found in stores. Then the sizes get bigger, and bigger and bigger. Do parents pester the company and ask for them, or assume that because they’re there, the product should be uesd? I see a LOT of evidence on the latter. A big example is the introduction of toddler formula. Infants use infant formula to help them get balanced nutrition, but toddlers should be eating solids, ideally regular food, and getting a reasonably balanced diet that way. I suspect that the formula industry saw a “problem” that they realized they could offer a solution too. At this time, it’s not recommended to use toddler formula, as most doctors think it’s unnecessary, but I have already encountered numerous moms with toddlers who think that they should be buying it– the rationale is “why would the company sell it if my child doesn’t NEED it?”

    With diapers, I think it’s quite possible that parents saw them in the store in larger sizes and thought “well, we can wait until he’s too big for diapers,” which reinforces what many parents seem to want– as potty training is apparently this scary, stressful event. And then the pull ups come along, and in larger sizes, and so on.”

    Respectfully speaking, isn’t what you are saying here the same thing? You are telling all the parents who choose to wait until their child is over 2 to train that they are “too scared” to try it earlier and that they are only buying into the diaper industry of trying to sell us larger diapers. Isn’t that a bit judgemental as well? I’m not saying you were trying to be. It’s simply that you are expressing your opinions that parents should not wait to potty train until the recommended age. Likewise many people on here are of the opinion that waiting makes most sense. Many parents find it more natural to wait until they show developmental signs that they are ready to train rather than spending a great deal of time training a little baby who may very well eventually get it, but will take a lot longer. It is perfectly acceptable to train little babies to go to the toilet. Many parents also train little babies to read and this is also fine as long as you are not pushing them. I’ve seen parents work with their babies on reading for 2-3 years and they do learn sometimes, although sometimes they don’t. You can also wait until they show signs of being developmentally ready to read and they will pick it up in a matter of weeks, not years. The same thing goes with toilet training. You can start it early and take your time and it’s great! Or you can start later and spend very little time and that’s fine as well! What ever you think is best as the little one’s mother. :)

  268. socalled, it wasn’t the “figuring out” that I was mostly objecting to, it was going through the whole process of toilet training when the child still wouldn’t be independent anyway. I get why that seems to be worthwhile to some people — you’ve expressed it well. But it never seemed worthwhile *to me.* (BTW, I always dumped the solids in the toilet anyway so unless there were digestive issues going on, I didn’t have a pail full of feces around.)

  269. “As for larger diapers – I find it almost perverted that they have “GoodNights” diapers large enough to fit me – not in the medical supply section, but in the baby diaper section.”

    SKL, I for one, am grateful for those. I actually practiced elimination communication and when my daughter was 20 months old she was fully trained in the day and has not had one accident since – in the day. It was a long year and half and I actually didn’t do it for my next two but followed more traditional methods and watched for the “signs” they were ready and they both trained VERY quickly, one at 26 months and one at 32 months. Each took less than 3 days. But, speaking of my oldest, she is now 7 and still can’t make it through the night even though she was fully trained at 20 months through the day. She simply is a very deep sleeper and we’ve tried many things, but it just doesn’t work. (Including going without them so she earns to wake up from the wetness.) Her bladder is also a bit small for her age, as well. She’s doing a lot better recently and we’re hoping in the next few months she won’t need them anymore. But she gets very embarrassed about it and we feel bad for her, but she honestly can’t help it. I would think most older kids who wear those simply can’t help it, not that they are being trained too late. Remember before they had those you had older kids being teased about “still wetting the bed”? I’m thankful my little girl doesn’t have to go through that.

  270. Sarah@ I’m not sure how stating my opinion is the same as telling other people how they SHOULD raise their child. I was trying to just say what I thought and what I did. There was no implicit statement that what I did was right, only that it was right for ME. I didn’t say that anyone who waited was doing it wrong. I did speculate why parents may do things, but certainly did not pass judgment or make any subtle, between-the-lines jabs.

    It dishearens me that, in spite of my efforts, you feel that I am being a pushy mother, trying to exhort my method as the best way, when I have really been trying to say what I do, why I do it, and ask questions why others do it other ways. I do sometimes speculate based on the evidence I have, and perhaps this is where I fail in not being pushy. Though this is not the first time I’ve been accused that by saying “I’m doing X with my child” was an attack on a parent who was doing Y with their child… so I’m apparently doing something wrong. (Well, more wrong than going against the accepted norms of parenting.)

    To me, saying “I’m doing [insert method] with my child for reasons x, y, z.” is different than saying “You shouldn’t do [insert method] with YOUR child because of reasons x, y, z.” I don’t beleive that I have said why anyone should do what I do, only offered the reasons why *I* do what I do. I really do not know how else to share my story that would be less pushy, but welcome any input on it as I’m really just trying to share and not to push.

    @
    @pentamom: I’m curious where you change diapers, if you dump the wastes in the toilet. (Not snarky, just curious.) We’re set up to change on the changing table with a pail nearby and we wrap the diaper around itself and toss it in. Since I’m considering (if I can get Husband on board) using cloth with our next child, and the question of solids and changing-location is one that I’m not able to answer.

    And I do get why many parents decide to wait. I mostly object to being told that I “can’t” train my son (I like SKL’s term “diaper-free!”) or that I “shouldn’t even try!” to train him at his age. It seems like the fact that I’m willing to do it– extra work that it is– rather than wait for him to do it is, perhaps, an offense to those who weren’t willing. As if by doing so, I’m making them feel guilty/ lazy/ bad? Which again, pains me, because, I do try very hard to not push my ideas on other people. I offer them, like a buffet, because I LOVE to learn about things and share that learning with interested people (hence,being a teacher!), but I don’t intend to change anyone’s mind. I don’t care what other people do with their kid, but I do have to be happy with what I do my son. I really wish I could convey that better… -_-

  271. socalledauthor, I don’t think you’re being fair to Sarah. I’m sure in your original comment you weren’t meaning to to say your way was better, but when you imply training later is a conspiracy in the diapering industry by making larger diapers it’s hard to believe you are actually perfectly fine with waiting and support those who do. Sarah, on the other hand OPENLY said she was fine with either method. Big difference.

  272. Socalled, I used to change my daughters while standing over the toilet (before they could walk). I can’t exactly explain how I did it, but part of the reason was so that the poop could go right into the toilet, and the child saw it going in there. Afterwards I wadded up the diaper, taped it together, and put it in a bag in the garage.

    My mom used cloth, and I shared diaper duties. We used to change the babies on the dressing table and then carry the diaper to the toilet, slosh it around in there and then put it in a diaper pail. Some people keep a pail full of bleach water for after the sloshing, but if you do that, you need to make sure the baby can’t get at it.

  273. I didn’t intend to imply anything, though I guess I can see how it was interpreted that way.

    Sorry that I’ve come across in this way. I did come out and say “’m not trying to judge, and apologize if it comes off that way,” and “While I don’t understand waiting, I don’t begrudge anyone who thinks it best for their family. There’s a point where we each have to decide what works best.”

    I’ll say it again, though it doesn’t seem to matter. I don’t judge anyone for the choices they make that they think are best for their children. I may not agree, but that doesn’t mean I’m judging anyone or thinking that my way is right for anyone but me and my family. I DO understand why parents choose to wait as it generally is faster. What’s most important in all this is that parent and child are happy and healthy. I may not understand, I may not agree, but in the end, I just want to see happy, healthy parents and children.

    Since I obviously cannot express myself clearly in the written form, I’m going to take a break here. I was trying really hard to NOT be judgmental, but only to share my observations and thoughts. Just as I don’t judge helicopter parents for their methods– even though it’s a practice I don’t agree with and could not do with my son– I don’t judge parents who potty train late. FWIW… I apologize for making anyone feel judged.

  274. I have cloth diapered all my children and I usually just changed them on the carpeted floor or couch. When they were all clean and had a fresh diaper on and on their way playing I took the solied one and dumped the feces in the toilet. Then I took it to the laundry room and had a special basket with a lid for them. I washed them everyday, as well so there isn’t any smell build up.

  275. SKL said: >>>I have a theory that I forgot to mention before. It makes no sense to introduce anything new involving parental control during the “terrible twos.” Unless you have a docile child or one who decides on his own that he abhors diapers, you’re just asking for trouble with that plan. BUT that does not mean the terrible threes are a better time to do it! It makes more sense, to me, to start before all those control battles enter the picture. Then the child already takes it for granted that he uses the bathroom and it doesn’t occur to him to soil himself just to prove he can.<<<

    I totally agree. I am not a mom but have taught preschoolers, but so many parents now seem to wait until their child is three. However, that seems to be what many teachers find easier somehow… I worked in a twos class in which we had a big age range, and the mom of our youngest wanted him to try to use the bathroom, and he was interested as well – however, the lead teacher insisted that he was not ready and didn't want him to have a potty chart, even though he would try… made no sense to me.

    My thought is that the parents and child need to decide when they are ready. If the parent is totally ready to work hard at it when their child is very young, then I say go for it. If not, then wait. Nearly all kids I've known are daytime pee trained by their 4th birthday, but a good portion I know are not by their 3rd. Then again, when I was little (born in 1983), a good portion of people were mostly trained by age 2… wish that were still the case, but if someone is not ready (child or parent), they're not ready.

  276. Man, all these italics are making me headache-y. Socalled, I wouldn’t worry about it if I were you. Potty training is a contentious subject in general, and we’re… as a rule, we’re pretty opinionated people. Strong personalities. (And if everybody is like me, having to read a page of italics makes them cranky. But maybe that IS just me?)

  277. italicks I hope there are no italics anymore.

  278. Don’t knock the Goodnight diapers! My mom says everyday how she wishes they were around when I was a kid. I had a medical problem that meant I wet the bed until around age 7. I had urinary reflux meaning the urine would not all come out at once so I would later wet the bed. I think I did some surgical stuff and eventually also you outgrow it over time. Also a lot of boys have medical issues where their bladders don’t grow as fast as the rest of their body so they also have bed wetting problems.

    Goodnights solve that problem with dignity and ease. It did not matter how much I was trained or withheld water or whatever, I still wet the bed. It was no one’s fault. So why should my mom and I have to be embarrassed and bothered when we would have to wake up in the middle of the night once or twice even to change my sheets and pjs?! It was so hard for both of us. Goodnights would have made both our lives so much easier. So I am glad they exist and in big sizes for kids like me.

    My mom would actually put me in diapers at night but eventually even though I was small for my size I outgrew the largest size and then we just had to change the sheets everytime and neither of us got sleep. I was always so ashamed too because I had to make my mother wake up and I knew it was hard on her.

  279. I also wanted to add the whole “pile of crap” in your house was not something we had. We had twins so that means twice the poop. We never bought a diaper genie. I think those things suck. We just kept a regular pail for the pee diapers that was emptied once a day. When we had a poop diaper I would tie it up in a grocery plastic sack and take it straight to the outside trash cans. It did not stay in the house. Sure our backyard around that area was stinky but the house never was.

  280. I think SKL might be right that pediatricians warn against early potty training because of the child abuse thing. I have seen cases of it getting out of control with younger kids or heard about it. Of course I have heard about cases of older kids and it getting out of control too. I hear about parents making the kids sit on the potty for hours and they claim that is training.

    That is the difference between parent training and kid training. After the initial 4 days of pee training my kids no longer ever had to just SIT on the potty. They just went when they needed to go and I made them go before we went somewhere. Whereas when I hear moms talking about early training it involves the parent putting the kids on the potty constantly and having them sit there A LOT. I think that is more parent training and I don’t think that is good for the child too. Sitting on a potty all the time can’t be fun. But if you can early train and not do that, then go for it!

  281. As the parent of older children, I can tell you…..I can’t even remember the exact age they were trained or many of the details. I don’t know if this means I have a horrible memory or if it means that once they reach a certain age, it just really really doesn’t matter any more.

  282. @Dolly: I’m in agreement there– sitting on the potty (at any age, really) should not be a chore or a punishment. Routine, sure. My son and I sit and look at some books and once he gets up we’re done for that sitting. No pressure, no big deal as I know he’ll get it when he’s ready. In the meantime we’re (in theory) reinforcing taking a break to go potty in the morning, after naps, after meals, etc.

    Now we’re all different, but to me, carrying around a poopy diaper to put it outside is not any better than the hassle of early potty training. And one is way cheaper, which, with my job situation right now, has a sudden increase in appeal! But it’s an interesting idea. There are lot of options, of course, and we all have to find what works for us.

  283. My kids learned very early how to go when it was time. Therefore I could take them everywhere and they would stay dry as long as we stopped in the restroom periodically. That obviously would not be possible if they had to sit on the pot for any length of time in order to accomplish anything.

    Yes, we had sessions at home for a time period where they sat on the pot for a little while. But I was training 2 together, and I used to keep books and toys in there and we’d read and sing. It was actually nice to have a “captive audience” for little learning sessions, as they’d sit still for the potty but one didn’t like to sit still for much else. I also used to let them have their milk/snack in there when they woke in the morning and after nap, because that was when “stuff worked itself out.” I assure you that there were no ill effects. Like I said, there will always be some parents who take things too far, but that doesn’t mean the rest of us will.

    As for the GoodNights, I can understand them for some kids through the primary grades. But I’m talking about sizes big enough to fit my not-so-petite rear. Either we’re talking about a lot of obese kids, or a lot of older kids who aren’t fully trained. Either way, that’s sad. Yes, there are medical issues that can cause this, but it’s rare for this to continue past age 6. Or at least, it used to be; if that has changed, I’d be wanting to know why, because I don’t think that’s acceptable – especially if it’s a medical issue.

  284. “I’m curious where you change diapers, if you dump the wastes in the toilet. ”

    I change the diapers in whatever room the changing table is in, then I walk into the bathroom and do what’s necessary when I’m done. :-)

    But it should all be past tense — my baby is 10.

  285. “Yes, there are medical issues that can cause this, but it’s rare for this to continue past age 6. Or at least, it used to be”

    No there have always been children who didn’t stop wetting the bed until well into middle school. It’s not the norm but it has never been unheard of either. It’s not generally for medical reasons. It’s usually due to a combination of sleep issues and immature or small bladder. The children can’t hold it overnight and they sleep so soundly that they don’t wake up when they need to pee. There is nothing medically that can be done. The kids just need to outgrow it, and do eventually, but Good Nights help them lead normal childhoods until they do. Having babysat a kid who wet the bed until about 7th grade (so slept with plastic sheets, woke up in wet pajamas every morning and never took part in a sleepover), these things are probably a godsend to kids with this problem.

  286. There is (or at least was) another option to help children who wet the bed late, rather than Good Nights. It’s probably considered cruel these days. I was a late bed wetter (3rd or 4th grade iirc). Eventually, my parents bought a buzzer pad that went under my sheets. When it detected wetness, it would sound an alarm. In a rather Pavlovian sense, I was trained to wake before the alarm– meaning I had to pay attention to my bodies signals (the theory being that since sphincters are voluntary, I was at least aware enough to operate the muscles.) In a few days, I was dry– and SOOOO proud to not be “a baby” anymore. I still remember this experience– still remember the first time I woke up in a dry bed!– twenty-some years later. And my parents were never harsh about the bed wetting, it was something I was acutely aware of myself. I admit that, because of my ‘training’ if I have even the slightest sensation of needing to use the restroom, I cannot sleep. But looking back, it’s worth it to have been able to go on sleep overs and be a “big girl” that didn’t wet the bed.

    I suppose the question is which is worse? A child that is ashamed and excluded (or afraid of his problem being exposes) for his bed-wetting or the possible trauma of waking to a terrible alarm that’s directly related to urination?

  287. I think the best thing I ever did for myself as a parent is to stop reading recommendations from experts. I just winged it for the most part. I started potty training my oldest at 18 months, because it seemed like a good idea. No one died if he (gasp) wet his underwear, and he was done with diapers completely by about 24 months. Change kid, continue with day. I’ve got two kids who still occasionally wet the bed at 11 and 9 (they sleep like the absolute dead). This hasn’t prevented them from going to camp or sleepovers, and they deal with their own sheets/wet things. If their room stinks, they are told to change their beds and take their laundry downstairs. World doesn’t end. I did cloth diapers because it was less work than driving to the store every five minutes for disposables, and we have to haul our own trash to the dump, so who needs the extra dump trips.

    But the whole time my kids were small, I just let them do things without thinking if they could. When I let them paint at age 2, many of my friends were amazed – they assumed that kids that small would automatically eat the paint or something. I let them climb on any structure they wanted to and just watched them, rather than assume they couldn’t do it. I introduced them to Broadway musicals in preschool because I like them, and it turned out they did too. I took them to a pipe organ concert when they were 5 and 6, because they wanted to hear a pipe organ. I didn’t spend a lot of time worrying about what they were old enough for or what was best for their development at that particular stage. If I felt they could behave, I took them wherever. So far, it seems to have worked, and I was a lot less stressed than some of my friends who scoured parenting magazines constantly looking for things to be worried about.

  288. Socalled, that really is a good question. A lot of parenting theories have arisen over the past half-century or so, based on the idea that a very short-term trauma is going to cause a lifetime of sub-conscious issues. Maybe that is true for people who are wired a certain way, but I don’t think it’s true for the majority of us. The tiptoeing around certain aspects of childrearing may have caused just as many problems. Honestly, I think the whole potty training “control issue” thing is a recent phenomenon – or perhaps a rare issue that has been blown way out of proportion, and turned into a fear that has significantly changed parenting. When you think about it (notwithstanding the celebrated lunatic who taught that 3-year-old girls want to have sex with their fathers, etc.), the idea that pooping is a delicate emotional matter for a baby is utterly ridiculous. And yet, look where we have found ourselves.

    The same is true of many other things. Take spanking for instance. Now, don’t get me wrong – I think it’s great if you can discipline your child without any physical punishment. But those who do use spanking effectively will tell you that it only takes a spank here and there to get most kids on the right path. My mom used to say she could count on one hand the number of times she spanked me. Because if you just do it and mean it and be consistent about it (and not a crazy loon taking your own frustrations out on your kid), it works without creating any lasting drama.

    Teaching kids. Now the pendulum is swinging back, but for a while, they wouldn’t even teach reading until the middle of 1st grade, because they were so afraid that the few late bloomers would feel bad, and their lives would be ruined forever. They also stopped retaining kids lest they feel sad about not keeping up with their peers – as if putting them into a harder class with a few minutes a day of tutoring is going to fix that problem – and, as if every kid in the class (including the slow one) doesn’t realize their relative standing. They’ve also stripped teachers of many discipline and motivation alternatives to protect little kids’ “dignity.”

    You know, kids are not that weak. At least, not unless we teach them to be.

  289. Thank you, Donna. I had a child who experienced this problem until age 13. The child slept so soundly that if I woke him up during the night to go, the child usually couldn’t become alert enough to find the way to the bathroom unless I physically helped. More often, the pajamas would start being taken off, out of a belief that it was time to get up. The kid was totally incoherent and disoriented.

    And then the child outgrew the problem. Just like that.

  290. One of my good guy friends apparently wet the bed till middle school according to his older brother who is also my friend. There was no reason they could find, it just happened. He was otherwise a totally normal kid and always had friends. He is actually the most charming and lady killer man I know. Women throw themselves at him as an adult. He is totally normal and smart and is married now and going to college and was in the military, etc. He is by no means a weirdo or a loser or coddled, etc. It really is one of those things that some kids just don’t outgrow till much older. Not sure what his parents did about it at the time.

    My parents put me on some sleeping medication when I was in middle school and they thought I was depressed. I was not able to wake up to pee and wet the bed a couple times then too. I freaked out on my parents and told them I was not taking the meds again. I imagine that is how it might be for the very heavy sleeper kids. You just don’t have any sensation of it because you are dead to the world which was how that stupid medication made me feel.

  291. @justmegan:

    You might be interested to learn that there is a link between learning disabilities and an inability to write in cursive. It has to do with the premotor cortex and its development, and the good news is that it can be addressed and remedied. Check out this link to see more: http://natureofnurturing.wordpress.com/2010/12/07/ten-things-our-grandparents-got-right-1-penmanship/

  292. OK, I will concede on the big GoodNites – perhaps the problem has always been more widespread than it appeared.

    But there are still a lot of kids with no known problems whose parents are afraid to night train. I’ve seen many parents ask timidly whether they dare try when their kid is age 4-6 and has been day-trained for a while. In a world without pull-ups/GoodNites, this would not be the case.

    Although I understand that some kids with extended bedwetting attribute it to deep sleeping, most kids (and adults) don’t pee when they are asleep. They feel the urge shortly after waking up. They can get up and go to the toilet, if there is any motivation to do so. Now if both parent and child are OK with letting the child pee in a diaper so mom can address other priorities, fine. That’s their choice. What bugs me is the idea that people think kids cannot learn – and they are afraid to try – because of hack advice.

  293. Trenches: thanks for that. When my kid was in vision therapy, I used to think how it would be beneficial for many kids if we went back to some of the prewriting exercises the old schools used to make the kids do. The increased attention to small motor control really improved my kid’s visual learning. Now I am thinking maybe I need to give her some complex writing assignments as she needs to transition to reading words.

  294. The alarms don’t work for every kid either. They sleep through the alarm. The kid a babysat had a stepmother who was a multimillionaire (literally). A lot of money was thrown at the problem and nothing went untried (doctors, shrinks, alarms). In the end, the only thing that worked was time — he grew out of it.

  295. SKL, where do you meet these parents who are afraid to night train? I’ve been a pediatrician for 41 years and have talked to thousands upon thousands of parents and I can count on one hand the number of parents who are “too afraid” to night train. But you’ll find that when kids are ready, they don’t WET the pull up anymore, because, like you said, most adults and kids don’t pee while they are asleep. Most parents who talk to me about it have taken away the pull up for several nights and had messes and then wondered why it wasn’t happening. Most of the time they just had to give the kid more time. AND THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH GIVING KIDS MORE TIME WHEN THEY NEED IT. And this has definitely been a problem that has existed a LONG time. It’s just more acceptable to talk about these days and thank goodness for the goodnights! And most kids get it all on their own because mom and dad notice they are staying dry through the night and so they try it without diapers and it works because they are ready. Also, in my experience I have seen many parents try the alarms and for a few it works, but for most parents they find it doesn’t because it’s simply something the kids has to outgrow.

  296. Yeah my kids wear pull ups at night even though they have been day trained for over a year. I have one son who mostly is dry in the morning and another son who can be dry but mostly is soaked in the morning. He evens wets through the pull up some mornings and dirties the bed! So I think I have one son who might be ready and could do well with night training and one that is not so much ready. So I just keep them in them and will both night train at the same time when they both no longer are wet in the morning.

    I am going to try to see how it goes after Christmas with it but if it doesn’t work, no biggie. I will just put them back in pull ups and give it more time.

    I have the WORST handwriting in the world and I have dyslexia. I never learned to hold my pencil right and I still hold it funny. I was ambidextrous and they made me pick a hand. I picked right because I figured it would be easier on me but I am pretty sure I picked wrong and that also is why my handwriting has always sucked. I think I was also meant to be left handed or at least allowed to continue to use both hands.

  297. Dolly, are you interested in improving your handwriting? If you are, I’ll dig around, I know I have some resources on the subject. (MY handwriting is… legible, and let’s leave it at that. Very childish, but once I learned to type I haven’t looked back since.)

  298. Ouch sorry for the italics… I accidentally put the slash after the i instead of before it. WordPress really needs to fix that… all they need to do is add a regex that changes an i with a slash AFTER it to an i with a slash BEFORE it.

  299. OK, but with the economy the way it is, it seems strange to me that diapers for big toddlers / preschoolers are purchased routinely for convenience. It’s not like they are cheap. It also gave me the shivers when I thought about how big a landfill I could create just by keeping my two in diapers longer than necessary. I don’t even use personal products that go in landfills, so the idea of producing a bagful or two each week . . . just didn’t seem intuitive to me . . . but at least I hope everyone is weighing the pros and cons and not just assuming diapers are a “need” for years upon years. I get that people might not want to get down and dirty and do the boot camp, but for most tots age 2+, that choice is a luxury and should be seen as such.

  300. As a parents we tend to be overprotective. That’s our maternal instinct. We are so scared that something bad will happen to our kids but sometimes we just have to let them have their freedom. As early as possible we should teach them to be independent.

  301. It’s not your fault about the italics. I mean, it IS, but as you noted, it wouldn’t be very hard for WP to get with the 21st century and fix it. (Although I’m thinking they could just set it so that borked tags don’t leave the comment they’re borked in. Do you notice how it’s messed up even outside the comment section? Sheesh.)

  302. another attempt

  303. Andy, try closing the tag two or more times in a single post. Just type a string of close tags in succession. If that doesn’t do it, it may be that nothing will.

  304. Or, Kyohaku or whoever it was that started it.

  305. “Do you notice how it’s messed up even outside the comment section? Sheesh”

    Oh, my goodness, the entire right sidebar is italicized! That’s just nuts!

    A lot of comment systems cause open tags to carry into the next comment, but every other one I’ve seen allows a subsequent commenter to close it, and NONE messes up other stuff on the page!

  306. My son just started middle school, too. His mother is, in my opinion, seriously over-protective, but for various reasons she consented to letting him ride the city bus. He has a cell phone. He calls me when he gets to school and again when he catches the afternoon bus and sometimes when he gets home. There have been a few times he has had me worried a bit, like the day he didn’t bother to call me when he got there – I had to call the school to be certain he had gotten off the bus and not fallen asleep. Still, it usually works well, and he likes the independence.

  307. Did that help with the italics?

  308. I know, Pentamom! And I’ve tried, and you’ve tried, and probably we’ve all tried to fix it by now. It’s really badly designed! (But very amusing when you think about it.)

    Now, what would’ve happened if he’d left an a href tag open? I shudder to think.

  309. That was me. Sorry!

  310. And I do it again.

  311. @pentamon wordpress is automatically closing open tags. If I put only closing tag in, opening one is created before it. It was fooled by slash on the wrong place (<i />).

    I tried </i /&gt to fix it; but it was auto corrected too.

    It seems like it is the only bug, all our attempts are ‘fixed’. Formatting is not leaking from our posts, so the italics stay.

  312. Ha, listening to you guys about the italics is funny.

    It doesn’t bother me – one benefit of the fact that dyslexia runs in my family. It could be upside down and backwards and I could still read it almost as well.

  313. Well, we can read it (obviously), it’s just… itchy.

  314. “Now, what would’ve happened if he’d left an a href tag open? I shudder to think.”

    You’re gonna give me nightmares, Uly! Blue, underlined, slanty ones! ;-)

  315. Uly: My handwriting is legible as well but only in print, My cursive has always been unlegible. I also am a fan of typing! I heard they are not always making kids learn cursive in schools anymore and work on typing instead. I say more power to it. Besides learning to sign their name in cursive, they really don’t need it. I can write faster in print than I can in cursive. So it is not really even faster like they say it is. I took notes in print in college and I got really fast and good at it.

  316. I’m with you Dolly. My cursive is still at a 5th grade level. I always hated writing in cursive, so as soon as they stopped making me, I went back to printing. I’m not even sure I know how to make some letters in cursive any more.

  317. Dolly, you don’t need to sign your name in cursive. That’s just a story they tell kids to make them learn it. (Heck, you don’t even need to write your name at all if you’re illiterate.)

  318. With that said, if, as a society, we wanted kids to write in cursive the solution would be simple: Stop teaching them print for three years first. Teach them cursive FIRST and then printing in second grade. Or, alternatively, teach them printing in kindergarten and the first half of first grade, then switch to cursive.

  319. “It also gave me the shivers when I thought about how big a landfill I could create just by keeping my two in diapers longer than necessary.”

    I feel the same way about all the water used to wash diapers in areas where water is a very precious and dwindling resource. And yes, I am talking about in the US. Ecology wise, cloth is not always better, depending on where you live in the US. I lived in an area which was overdrawing the local water table so that salt water was seeping backwards to local wells. Not pretty for the future, that is for sure.

    (Just egging you on – cloth is good, but sometimes green is not always the shade that people expect!)

  320. Hey Lenore,

    I have no way of contacting you, so I’m posting this link here.

    David Hembrow, who, with his family, emigrated to the Netherlands from Britain because of the Dutch cycling culture, posted a new entry on his blog about Dutch children cycling to school, complete with a video. Go check it out!

    http://hembrow.blogspot.com/2011/09/cycling-to-school.html

    This is how I grew up and how all Dutch children *still* grow up, and note please how David, a stranger who quite videos and photographs these kids, is greeted and then ignored, both by the kids and by ‘the authorities’. No one arrests him for ‘being a pervert for showing an interest in cycling children’ and no policeman would EVER arrest a kid for cycling alone to school. The idea!

  321. @Cheryl W

    Please inform yourself better.

    “They concluded that disposable diapers create 2.3 times as much water waste, use 3.5 times as much energy, use 8.3 times the non-regenerable raw materials, use 90 times the renewable raw materials and 4 to 30 times as much land for growing raw materials.

    Simply put, since disposables consume 70% more energy than the average reusable diaper per diaper change, is it really WISE to use 3.4 billion gallons of oil and over 250,000 trees annually to manufacture them when they already end up in our overburdened landfills”

    Taken there: http://www.diaperpin.com/clothdiapers/article_diaperdrama4.asp

    Even if you don’t take into account that it’s crazy not wanting to use water from your (maybe low) water source to wash cloth diapers but it’s okay to use water to make disposable diapers just because it’s water that comes from somewhere else (possibly without a low level), think about the future generations a little and what they will do with all the overflowing landfills. They will send their wastes to other poorer countries? I personally don’t see any solution, but if you do, feel free to tell me.

  322. [...] been thinking about this a lot, after reading this blog about developmental expectations in 1979 on Free Range Kids. Rachel, who is 9, began walking around our neighborhood alone this spring. She is competent and [...]

  323. I disagree about cloth versus disposable being cheaper or more energy efficient. My mother ran a daycare from her home. She provided the diapers for the parents while the kids were in her care. She decided to try cloth diapers and see how it went instead of disposables. Well she was washing all the diapers from all the kids and she said her water and electric bill was way way way higher than it ever was before from all the loads of wash she had to do. She did the math and it was costing her more to use cloth when you factor in initial cost of the cloth diapers plus the added electric and water costs. Plus it was more work on her part.

    This was a long time ago but might still ring true today. After about two months of that she went back to disposables.

  324. I use cloth now and it works fine, but I am lucky and do not have to pay for water or heat in my apartment so if I do them by hand it just costs me for the soap now. once a week I will do them in the washing machine with the babys clothing since by itself her stuff does not fill a load, other then that I wash them every other day by hand. I pre rinse the diapers as I put them into the diaper bin in the bathroom to avoid the ammonia smell some people complain about, when I go out and where I change her at home I use a wetbag for the dirty ones, I then put them in the main pail after a rinse.

    I find it much easier and cheaper then lugging a mega box 5 blocks on the stroller with 3 kids every month, and since my son takes out all the garbage and used to refuse to take the dirty diapers(he is only 8 so I let him off that) I don’t ever have to look in the garbage shoot again other then the 3 weeks he was at camp in the summer lol.

    I spent about $200 so far on cloth diapers and that has paid for itself in the first 4 mths of using them in comparison to disposables(now it has been about 8 mths), so for me it works fine.

    Cloth diapering in this day and age can be very cheap or very expensive if you go for the flashy name brand ones or some of the cute personalized kinds(growing internet market on cloth diapers now by SAHM’s), some people even just start off using receiving blankets or they make their own(lots of patterns online).

    It is not for everyone and if I had more then 1 in diapers I probably would use a diaper service like http://www.happynappy.ca/ , they supply all the diapers and pick them up and drop off clean ones, once(or twice? I cant remember now) a week. If your child is not potty trained by age 2 1/2 the rest of the time they are in diapers they will be free of charge, before age 2 1/2 it was under $24 a month. You do have to have a diaper pail(garbage can works fine) and I think you were supposed to take care of the covers yourself, but they are very easy to wash by hand they recommend having 5 covers as they can be reused after a simple rinse/wash and dry fast (less if wool covers, but they cost more and have to be careful how they are washed). The service has pails and covers you can purchase. They do not require you to dump any solids off the diapers, so it is just as easy as disposables other then the covers. They do have discounts for twins/multiples and are willing to work with daycares.

  325. I disagree about cloth versus disposable being cheaper or more energy efficient.

    Yes, but Dolly, she wasn’t paying the initial cost. It’s not just about her electric bill!

  326. I don’t understand, Uly. Dolly’s mother paid for the cloth diapers, the water, the soap, and the electricity. What initial cost are you talking about? (Not trying to be snarky. I just don’t understand what you are trying to say.) :)

  327. The initial environmental cost of producing the disposable diapers in the first place.

  328. I am so conflicted about how I feel right now. We live on a very busy street, traffic is constant and it is a hill that has curves on it. You have only a couple spots you can cross where you can see the cars coming, if your tall enough. There are these horrible bushes and cars blocking the view even for adults. The cars also drive so fast.
    When I was a kid we knew every other kid on the street. He knows the ones in our building. Recently some of them have gotten in a lot of trouble lately so he has no one to play with. Beleive it or not we have never met the kids across the street. We were walking the dog yesterday and they were playing in thier yard and I though about how nice it would be if he could go play there. The problem is we hardly ever see them. they go to a different school and are kept in thier yard all the time. Many of the apartments no longer have kids. Or Paretns are so busy families are always n the go.
    When I grew up we all visited both sides of the street. Part of the issue I think is the huge increase in traffic. People use our street as a short cut to avoid traffic on the main street. It is also a busy bus route. If they were to divert the bus to another street we could probably have ours back.

  329. Sadly I haven’t the time to read through 334 comments, so please forgive me if this has been brought up. It occurs to me that according to this list, not only was it acceptable for a 6 year old to walk to the park alone, it was required. Meaning, that if he couldn’t accomplish that task then he was immature for his age! Remarkable how far down the crippling path we’ve gone.

  330. Coccinelle, actually, I wish I could find the source that I was quoting (vaguely.) It was from a NPR report and they concluded that in water short areas that using cloth was not as environmentally friendly as using disposable. Now, I am pretty sure that the making of the disposables was not figured in (or the water needed to grow the cotton.) But, based on the community were they are being use, if you are in a water short area, disposable is more green. If you live in an area with great water table, cloth is better. Most diapers are made in areas with ample water, I would assume. (Cotton too.)

    How much water does it take to grow the cotton in a typical diaper?

  331. This article seems related to some of this post: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/22/magazine/22Adulthood-t.html?pagewanted=1

    The article is about the idea of “emerging adulthood” – young adults who haven’t reached the milestones to actually become adults. Not really relevant to the idea of potty training, but definitely relevant to the idea of what a child (or adult) can – or should – do when. It’s interesting to consider what makes someone an “adult” – I think the milestones were finishing school, leaving home, getting married, having children, and becoming financially independent. Honestly, almost nobody I know or have heard of has done all of these by age 30… or even 40 for many. An old roommate of mine bought a condo with her parents’ help at age 20 and is still living there; she has a masters of education and taught for few years, but due to budget cuts, she is currently unemployed. However, she is financially better off than many I know. Many people I know do not plan to have children and aren’t seeking marriage anytime soon; a good portion of these are supporting themselves at least in part. However, i would not consider one to be financially independent just because one pays one’s own bills – I pay my own bills but still have to have a job and do not make nearly enough income to pay off my debts or to quit my job anytime soon. I am married and want children, but I do not have any yet – primarily due to the cost (monetary) but also due to the mental, emotional, and temporal cost.

    Anyway, I’m going on a tangent… the point is that this article shows that children/teenagers are taking longer to become adults – maybe because parents/society do not give children the freedom and responsibilities they need and deserve.

  332. Cheryl, I don’t have the numbers, but if I’m right cotton is a pretty eco-intensive crop. Not all cloth diapers are made of cotton nowadays – hemp and bamboo are pretty common fibers because they’re more absorbant – but I don’t know how the various fabrics compare, environmentally.

  333. Denny: A lot of those “definitional stages of adulthood” mentioned in that article are based on assumptions about what sociologists call “normative life course” and those assumptions were in turn formed by looking at middle-class American life in the three decades or so following WWII and assuming that represented some sort of inherent norm. The problem is that socioeconomically that period was a rather unusual one in American history. For example, in the 1950s and 1960s people generally married and had their first kid in their early 20s. This, however, ran counter to a trend, which started in the very early twentieth century, of increasing later marriage and childbirth. That trend seems to have resumed about 30 years ago; today people are marrying and having kids “late” only by 1950s standards (my mother talks about how young (21) she was when she got married in 1954. Actually, the median age for a woman’s marriage then was 19).

    Similarly, in those times anyone with a high school diploma could expect to get a good-paying job and be able to stay with the company until retirement. That was by no means The Way Things Always Were, and it hasn’t been the case for the last several decades either. It was largely the combined result of the economic stimulus produced by WWII (and that didn’t really wear off until the mid-1970s) and the efforts of labor unions in the preceding decades. The mere fact that nowadays you usually need at least a bachelor’s degree to have a Career rather than a mere job is enough to account for a lot of the time shift. Many of today’s largest employers weren’t around 40 years ago, and many of the largest employers then aren’t around anymore. Careerists had a lot more promotion opportunities because a typical large corporation had fifteen layers of middle management and lots of tasks done by technology now were done manually back then (as recently as 60 years ago, the primary definition of “computer” was a job description for a person!).

    Although I haven’t yet read it myself, Stephanie Coontz’s The Way We Never Were, which addresses a lot of these issues, has gotten good reviews.

  334. @Cheryl W

    The thing is you will never be able to convince me otherwise. Any cloth diaper is better than any disposable. Just because a disposable is a one time use and goes directly in the landfill. That’s the problem. And it remains true even if it takes more water to create the cloth diaper and to wash it, but it doesn’t change the fact that’s it’s greener. Water is a resource x times more renewable than petroleum, and I agree that if you take two products that are identical in terms of waste, like say, two washing machines, you can say that one is greener if it uses less water. But comparing diapers with the water criteria only is not fair.

    Also, I asked you a question that you didn’t answer… what the future generations will do with all the overflowing landfills?

    Also, if you think you can “save” your water source by using less water, you should know that “More than 90 percent of the water used by humans is used by agriculture and industry. The remaining 10 percent is split between municipalities and actual living breathing individual humans”

    Taken here: http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/4801

    Good luck!

  335. Well, nobody above seems to be taking into account that the average kid in cloth diapers potty trains about a year sooner than the average kid in disposables. Isn’t that better for the environment?

    My kids were in disposables (housemates wouldn’t let me put diapers in our washer), but since they wore their last diaper at age 1.5 – and wore fewer than average for the 8 months before that – their impact was relatively low compared to the US average.

    As for the arguments about cloth diapering being expensive and not environmentally friendly – those analyses were done based on ridiculous assumptions. You can buy a dozen cotton diapers at Wal-Mart for a few bucks, and basic plastic panties (to prevent diaper leaks) are also pretty cheap. You also don’t need to use a whole wash load for every 8 diapers, as was assumed in the analysis. My mom used the same old diapers over and over again for six kids. It was one load per week for one kid in diapers. The work was a little more than disposables, but not that much more – instead of dumping the bag into the garbage, you dump the pail into the washer; instead of going to the store and buying diapers, you remove them from the dryer and pile them up. So OK, the step of moving them from the washer to the dryer once a week was extra – big deal. (Washing the diapers was my job for at least 2 years, so I do know what it’s like.) You should also consider that disposables increase the incidence of diaper rash that requires ointments / medical treatment.

    But naturally, companies that sell billions of disposable diapers each year are going to tell you otherwise.

  336. For a site that discusses the capabilities of youths, I just wanted to share this story about a 14 year old who built a working fusion reactor.

    http://www.theblaze.com/stories/meet-the-16-year-old-fusioneer-youngest-ever-to-build-a-nuclear-fusion-reactor/comment-page-2/?corder=desc

  337. [...] As recently as 1979, a first grader could [...]

  338. [...] This little burb* made me think. Because I would not let Pookie wander the neighborhood alone at the age of six (still half a year away). I’m not afraid of kidnappers or violence. Our neighborhood is pretty damn safe in that regard. I’m afraid of the drivers. They come barreling along the hills at ungodly speeds and glare at any pedestrians (unless they are old, thank god for the oldsters) and we have no sidewalks. I would not let her walk to the nearest grocery store, hell I won’t walk to the nearest grocery store, because just beyond the neighborhood is a surprisingly busy used-to-be-rural road where everyone drives way the hell above the speed limit and don’t understand how a four way stop sign works, and again no sidewalks. I would let her roam about subdivision without me if she was in the company of an older child (or several). But I rarely see any out and about, and almost never a mixed-age group. Certainly I encourage her to wander on over to the neighbors’ back yard and use the slide, etc that the twins there have outgrown (we have neighbors hearty permission).  To be honest, I don’t think Pookie would want to wander about on her own- she is just as alert to the danger of insane Southern drivers as I am. I think she’d feel very grown up if allowed to accompany a couple of 8, 9, or 10 year olds in their meanderings, though. I think what really got lost between the era of six-year-olds walking eight blocks on their own and today is a) sidewalks, but more importantly b) a connection with the people that live around us. There is no herd of kids ranged eight to twelve that roam the subdivision playing door bell ditch and kickball and watergun fights like I did. Actually my understanding is that by “my time” this was already pretty rare. I’m also kind of wondering if it was a good thing that six year olds were walking up to eight blocks by themselves to the grocery store.  Furthermore, Mother Mayhem remembers being sent to grocery store by her folks as a kid but she also remembers that the adults in that store, and many of the ones she was likely to encounter on the way knew her father. They knew how to reach him if she got hurt, or got up to shenanigans. That’s not present anymore- at least not in my area. Which means it is genuinely less safe to send a seven or eight year old on that kind of mission than it was, let alone a first-grader. I think cell phones might change that equation to some extent and in some places. But I think reluctance to allow free roaming in a lot of situations is warranted. I don’t think walking the neighborhood alone was a sign of the relative independence of six year olds back in the day, I think it was a sign of the relative interdependence of neighborhoods themselves. I also think some neighborhoods are rediscovering this connection and interdependence, but my neighborhood is not yet one of them. Also: sidewalks. I want sidewalks. So does Pookie: she asked me in the car the other day if we could organize a protest for more of them. You know it is strange times when your kindergartener has come to believe that protests are the accepted first-line plan of action for making changes. I told her we might want to look into starting a petition first. [...]

  339. [...] In 1979, traveling unsupervised around the neighborhood was a developmental milestone for six-year-o… Nowadays my parent friends tell me it’s widely considered child [...]

  340. Huh, based on those criteria (apart from the age and permanent teeth), my 3-year-old is ready for first grade.

    We lived in a rural area when I was a kid, but we were only a mile or so from school. The bus passed right by our house, so we usually took it, but if we missed the bus, we were responsible for walking to school or arranging our own transportation (the mail carrier would usually let us ride in the bed of his pickup if we made suitably sad eyes). Now there’s something you don’t get to do anymore. Put a 6-year old in the bed of a pickup…you’d be on Nancy Grace before five minutes had passed.

  341. [...] makes me sad how little we trust our kids these days. I came across this excerpt on Free Range Kids, one of my favorite websites. It was a checklist of milestones, printed in 1979, to help you figure [...]

  342. [...] when I followed to a link to an article that suggests that a first grader should be able to walk around his neighborhood alone, I reacted [...]

  343. All those little kids walking so far away from home, alone, scares the bejeebers out of me now. When my kids were little, in the late fifties and sixites, I thought nothing of it. My very mature daughter walked herself to K. the first day, (the school was located inside our sub) about one block away. They played on the sidewalk and visited their little friends nearby homes and all was well. When I was a kid in the forties my friends and I would head out the door in the A.M. to play and wouldn’t be seen again until lunch or longer. Nobody worried. No more. The danger of a child being kidnapped and murdered today is too great to allow such things. I would be picking up my kid today and watching him like a hawk because the world has gone to hell in a handbasket.

  344. [...] services!!!  And HER DAUGHTER IS 9!! . Anyway, I got to thinking about your post about the “Your 6 Year Old” book — about how a child that age at the time that book was published (1980?) was supposed [...]

  345. [...] Readers! I gathered together a few of the 341 responses to  the other day’s post, “As Recently as 1979 a First Grader Could…,”to remind us of what kids are capable of (when we don’t give in to the fear-mongering [...]

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