Over the past few days America was excited about a video of twins playing with rubber bands. It was getting thousands of views and comments online. Is there really something that incredible in that video to be very excited about? Not at all. It is nothing unusual. Millions of kids all over the world play with very simple objects, have fun and learn to think creatively. What went wrong that Americans are so delighted about something so usual?
American kids are extraordinarily spoiled with excess toys, games and other accessories, mainly plastic, that each year add tons of waste to the landfills and affect the already devastated environment. The kids are so used to getting so many new toys so often that they are neither grateful for them nor occupied with them for long periods of time. Instead, accustomed to their parents being at their whims and orders all the time, they demand more and more new plastic junk that shares the fate of all the previous toys.
American kids are also overstimulated by obsessed parents constantly focusing on them, driving them around, organizing their activities, extracurricular lessons, play dates, and outings that they do not have time to learn to think and invent during all those overscheduled days, months and years. If this was not enough, the overconcerned, overstimulating and overscheduling parents fail to teach their kids something simple, badly needed and lacking: basic manners, especially table manners, respect and proper behavior towards other users of public space.
These parents seem completely unable to imagine that their kids, even the youngest ones, are perfectly able to think, invent and create something out of nothing. The kids can and will if only allowed to do so and be guided how to do it respectfully, without unnecessary disruption. All the excitement about the video and the simple fact that kids can play and have fun without being stimulated, driven, and scheduled clearly shows that people lack both imagination and knowledge about child development. The results are deplorable: overstimulated, overscheduled and overwhelmed with tons of plastic, children are unable to think, to create, to imagine and to play without parents spending lots of money on them. Moreover, they seem very slow in their development: an average American ten year old acts like a two year old somewhere else.
Also, American parents constantly complain how difficult, expensive, exhausting and time consuming raising a child is. They demand praising, credits, and privileges from the task of kid raising from other people or society as a whole. It is actually not as demanding as Americans think, and most of the supposed hardship is self-inflicted. Just ask parents from the countries in which a kid is part of the society, not its center focus.
Millions of children around the world play with whatever they have available: boxes, sticks, stones, blocks, old tires, and many kinds of common items. Most of them have very few, very simple toys, often made by relatives or local artisans, hand-me-downs from other kids or donations received from charities. Yet, they are very happy, cheerful, thoughtful, and much more mature and respectful than American kids. They have lots of fun out of nothing and find multiple ways of playing with a simple item.
In these countries, adults are used to leaving kids alone to play and do not overstimulate or overschedule them. They would find nothing unusual, adorable, cute or awe-inspiring in a video of two children playing with rubber bands, as Americans did. For them, it is just as natural as playing with anything else the kid can find in the household or anywhere outside. They only make sure that the kids play respectfully and politely, and bring them to order whenever necessary. They end up having polite, respectful, mature and happy children. This example is worth following in America.