Quote of the Day: Teach your children well…

“(B)y shielding children from every possible risk, we may lead them to react with exaggerated fear to situations that aren’t risky at all and isolate them from the adult skills that they will one day have to master”. (From WSJ: “Should we let toddlers play with saws and knives“)

You don’t need to convince us of the virtue of letting your kids use knives. Personally I have been letting my children use my band-saw (under extremely close, hands-on supervision) since they were 4. They have also used all manner of hand-tools since that age as well. But it is always worth noting when a “pro-tool” piece involving young children breaks into the mainstream media.

The article linked above summarizes an anthropological piece in the journal Child Development, where researchers examined tool use among toddlers in non-western societies. Kids begin edged tool use as early as 3 in many cultures, emulating parents and learning important physical and mental skills.

We are the “WEIRD” ones – Western Educated Industrialized Rich Democratic, who thwart our kids development by not letting kids take risks. Unfortunately, should an accident occur, too often the parents are punished by overzealous authorities – leading to “defensive” parenting. If we don’t allow our kids to take risks, they do not learn to deal with failure.

In the case of knives: if a child gets accidentally cut (hopefully mildly), it reinforces the need to respect the tool and pay attention. By barring kids from tool use, we instead either teach them to fear said object, or give it a “forbidden-fruit” quality. Either way it leads to far worse consequences down the road.

(h/t KnifeRights via Facebook)

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  1. I’ve been letting my son who is almost 5 use knives and other various hand tools(under supervision) since 2 1/2. So far no accidents.

    We spend a massive amount of time on proper use and safety rules, to the point where he now reprimand me if he sees me not following the rules. In particular the one about cutting towards yourself!

    1. sagebrushracer says:

      if properly instructed in safety, kids are very observant and will NEVER let you slide on your own rules.

  2. Robert Arvanitis says:

    Boy Scouts make it not just a privilege, but a responsibility.
    Qualifications for the totin chip are clear and unequivocal: http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/BoyScouts/AdvancementandAwards/MeritBadges/totin.aspx
    Every scout, not just those qualified, know about the “blood circle,” the safety radius for use of any tool, and they know to stay well outside.
    That’s privilege and responsibility

    1. Ah…the “blood circle”… I erred in overlooking that one night to catastrophic consequence.


    2. Ivar Ivarson says:

      Glad to see that the totin chip is alive and well. Even as a perennial 2nd class Boy Scout, I carefully absorbed the lessons or I wasn’t going to be able to have that pocket knife on me, let alone use a hatchet.

  3. Sam L. says:

    Linked by Instapundit at 8:05 PM!

    1. Saw that. I was out dove hunting when Dan texted me.

  4. John C. says:

    Speaking as an old Shop teacher, always make sure your child’s (well, all of them, but especially your child’s) cutting tools are as sharp as you can make them. If the tool is dull, more effort must be put into making it cut at all, leaving less available for control, and that leads to bandaids, or worse. I can not tell you how many adults I have known who thought giving a child a dull knife was safer than giving them a sharp one…

  5. GWB says:

    Concur with teaching instead of forbidding. Besides everything else mentioned, the Cub/Boy Scout methodology also helps take down the “coolness” factor of having a knife – turning it into something more mature.

    Yes, teach your children well. If they fear everything, eventually they will fear you.

  6. Old Guy says:

    I just looked at the Scout page and have to note that when I did it in the 60’s you had to demonstrate the ability to sharpen a knife and an axe. They did not expect you to sharpen a saw but to know when it was dull and so get it sharpened or use a new blade.

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Quote of the Day: Teach your children well…

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