Childhood Is a Mess

‘Children are the future’! I’m sure you’ve heard that before, right? So, let me tell you that they are our present too… if we let them.

This post is not to talk about how it is to be a child, but rather, what it is about being a child that is so unique. Innovation and creativity are at their peak! Children solve problems every single day and their brain has way more activity on a daily basis than an adult’s brain. A year old baby makes approximately double the neural connections of an average adult!

Gopnik (2016) says that “The mind of a human child […] is the most flexible and powerful learning device in the known universe.” They are excellent at problem-solving, many times, better than any adult. We don’t always realize that since sometimes, they can’t make the most basic stuff, but for those who deal with children daily, they’ve probably faced situations where they’re asked themselves how did the child did or knew something. That happens because “younger learners are better than older ones at figuring out unlikely options.”

As adults, we must be the safe harbor for them to explore and experiment. A safe environment (not controlled) will help them to develop all those amazing abilities they have. How? Trough books, toys, walking on the beach, in the park… We should let them do and not tell them what to do.

Your worries can stop your children from being amazing

Yes, worrying is part of being a parent. In my country, people used to say that being a mom means having your heart outside of your body all the time. But, let’s face it, being worried all the time isn’t good for anyone… let alone the child.

Development studies suggest that worried parents create fearful children. You might think that you don’t let them know that you’re worried, however, I’m sorry to inform you, your children can detect your lack of confidence in them and your uncertainty about some activity or exploration that they want to do. They’re frighteningly insightful.

Besides that, letting your children explore the world around them will help them improve their abilities and evolve. Let’s not forget that this is the perfect time for exploring. In case something goes wrong they can always call for their mother or father, whereas later in life this will be much more difficult.


It’s a mess and that’s good!

Mess is the key word when talking about children, or if you want to be politically correct, you might say as Gopnik (2016), childhood is “variability, stochasticity, noise, entropy, randomness”. Of course, as a parent, this can drive you crazy, but for your child’s development, it can make a whole world of difference.

If you go back to the 19th Century, you’ll discover that it’s Romantics looked at children as representations of the virtues of chaos, since for them disorder appeared as the wellspring of freedom, innovation, and creativity, which means that this ‘mess’ will allow our children to adapt to the world and its new and crescent demands.

“Childhood is for learning – that’s what children are designed to do, and that’s why adults and children have such a special relationship. But children’s learning goes far beyond just listening to what their parents say or doing what their parents want.” Gopnik, 2016


Being different might save the day

All children are different, it’s almost a cliche saying such a thing, but biologically speaking, that difference is what provides us with the ability to survive as a group. It will allow us to adapt to very different situations and to help each other out, living better and longer, as a species.

The author gave an interesting example that I’ll try to reproduce here. Imagine two types of children: the risk-taking child and the timid one. The risk-taking children are fundamental in situations of abrupt and unpredictable changes (innovation) and the timid ones will be perfect in predictable situations (security). And, as a species, we need both, the ones who innovate and the ones who maintain tradition and security, this balance allows the evolution and survival of a species.


GOPNIK, Alison (2016). The Gardener and the Carpenter. New York, NY: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.


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