Thursday, November 14, 2013

There’s a two-year-old with a flaming stick, oh my!


The Swiss have a very different approach to danger than most English speakers. Instead of preventing a child from playing with fire by putting candles out of their reach, they hand a toddler a lantern with a flaming candle inside it and expect her to walk with it for five blocks.

The Frau speaks from experience. Because Baby M was supposed to do just that as an organized daycare activity. But after flinging her flaming lantern around for about thirty seconds, she decided to let The Frau carry it five blocks for her while she chilled out and ate pretzels in her stroller.

The Swiss version of personal responsibility at its finest:
The Fire Parade in Liestal
The Swiss childcare workers were not impressed with either The Frau or Baby M.

But The Frau can’t say she minded Baby M’s lack of interest in the lantern.

Let her tell you why not.

The Frau really likes the concept of personal responsibility. It’s ten times better than the concept of “blame someone else for my stupidity” that most Americans subscribe to—at least if they can afford a lawyer.

But unfortunately, culture kind of sticks to people like melted Raclette cheese sticks to a pan. So even if The Frau tries to scrape off her American paranoia during Swiss events that are supposed to teach personal responsibility to two-year-olds, sometimes her old-fashioned American fear still clings to her. 

Can you blame her? She comes from a country that, according to the American Pediatric Society’s book on raising children, says children can’t be reasoned with until they are at least age seven.  In the meantime, Swiss children have been walking to school by themselves for two years...

Anyone else have experiences with the Swiss version of teaching kids about personal responsibility?


6 comments:

swisssidejewelleryetc said...

Yes!! I mean, ja!! Insisting that 4 1/2 year olds can safely walk to Kindergarten and back on their own, or, more recently, my Swiss neighbour saying "I'd better go get the girls (aged 5 and 7) as it's getting dark now and heading off towards the woods! Brrrr. I've forgotten how many times I've been called paranoid..and do you know what? I don't care. You stick with your gut feeling Chantal.

Chantal said...

The Frau is glad to hear she is not alone.

swisspostcards said...

Honestly I don't have direct experience (I don't have kids) but I noticed that here in Switzerland children at a very young age get more independent than in other countries. This could be explained also by the high level of "security" that allow them to walk alone in the streets. But anyway I myself feel a bit uncomfortable sometimes watching them completely alone walking to the school.
I think that one should find a way somewhere in between!

Hattie said...

Are they still leaving their kids alone in the house and going out in the evening?

Chantal said...

The Frau likes to see the independence of the kids in Switzerland...more for selfish reasons than anything else. She'd rather be the mom who sends her child off to school right from the front door than to become the exhausted American mom who spends her entire day carting her kids around in a car. That being said, The Frau believes the concept of early independence only works in a country that is small, safe, and easily walkable.

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