A developmental scientist, who studies children’s growth across cultures, is sharing two things that parents in the United States should stop stressing about.
“First: not everything has to be ‘educational.’ It’s truly completely okay (& indeed, good) for kids to play for the sake of play. They don’t have to be learning the alphabet or animal noises. They can just do whatever silly thing they want to do. They are ALWAYS learning,” Dorsa Amir began a Twitter thread.
Amir, a postdoctoral researcher at the UC Berkeley Department of Psychology, then went on to note that “you don’t have to put pressure on yourself to constantly teach them things.”
“In fact, active & direct instruction from an adult is the rarest form of teaching in human history,” she explains. “Kids know how to learn in other ways — like observation — & they’re extremely good at it.”
As an example, Amir pointed to a class she took with her 2-year-old son at an indoor gym.
“The teacher held up a ball & moved it around so the kids could ‘learn how to track objects with their eyes,’” Amir recalled. “I cannot stress enough how completely & utterly unnecessary that is.”
According to Amir, it’s also important for children to experience negative emotions — including boredom — without an adult intervening.
“They can disagree or argue with their playmates that’s completely fine & actually very good for them to practice,” Amir shared. “Let them resolve things if they can, you don’t have to get involved or prevent it from happening.”
Amir, who grew up in Iran but lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, says she wrote the post not just to help others — but as a reminder to herself.
“I’ve been studying these topics for over a decade and I still feel the guilt and pressure,” Amir tells TODAY.com. “Even though I know the research supports everything I wrote, I still think to myself, ‘Oh, my kid needs to be doing something educational.' Then I thought, ‘If I’m feeling this way — it has to be so much more stressful for everybody else.'”
She was right: It was a message that many needed to hear.
“Thanks for this!! The pressure in the US to be my toddler’s entertainment 24/7 and to buy the best organic and educational everything marked influencers is absolutely bonkers,” one person tweeted in response to Amir’s thread.
Added another, “I love this! I’m 15 years into a middle school teaching career and can confidently say that a lot of this advice is so so needed to counteract the culture that people feel is ‘normal.’ It’s not normal — and it’s not helping your kids!!”