Stephen Colbert interviewed Neil deGrasse Tyson in front of a packed auditorium a couple years ago and the whole thing is worth watching. For those who don’t know, Tyson is basically the American spokesman on behalf of science these days. His voice is captivating, his words are poetic and his knowledge of physics and the great beyond is strong. Wrap it all up in one amazing made-for-TV-package and you get Neil deGrasse Tyson.
Beyond his typical promotion of quantum physics and unique tangled approach philosophy and the cosmos, he dropped some great parenting advice that everyone with a little one should here.
To summarize, he explains that we should not be telling our kids no. If you child wants to play in the mud don’t tell them to stop because you just washed the pants. Let them get dirty they are experimenting with the density of the mud. If the child pulls the pots and pans out of the kitchen drawer don’t tell them to put them back because they are testing out the acoustics.
We live in a world where everything is square, clean and protected. What we need to do is start letting our kids go out and play and discover the world around them. This will spark their natural curiosity and allow the fundamental skills to develop at a young age that can be harnessed at an older age.
The point is not to make it so every kid is a scientists. But imagine if a science class is filled with 90% of students who are genuinely curious rather than 40%. What a difference that would make.
As parents we always want to monitor and make our own lives a little easier and a little less messy. This tendency will never go away but at the same time we must understand that and overabundance of rules and structure can cause more harm than anything.
There is a balance that some parents struggle with. You don’t want your kid to sit in the basement all day and night, secluded from everyone and play video games. Monitoring children is incredibly important. So this advice does not fall in the category of ‘leave them alone’ rather ‘let them be’ and maybe even get dirty with them.