Our first 2,000 days in life (up to about 5 years of age) is the period I call the download period. These 2,000 days shape the rest of our lives and this is where we learn to understand both ourselves and the world around us. We learn to use our body and our brain, understand our emotions and make friends.
In the documentary Becoming You on Apple TV, they have followed 100 children around the world, from Nepal to Japan and Borneo and their first 2,000 days on earth. An incredibly educative and very nicely filmed documentary in 6 parts. One of the things that stuck with me was the story of Ruru.
Ruru, a boy from Tokyo, faces his first challenge that will shape his perception of himself and his own capacity. Rurus' father asks him to go and buy sushi for the family. Ruru wonders if he should go by himself and his dad says YES, you can do it!
Ruru hits the streets of Tokyo to buy sushi. Unusual?
Ruru is 3 years old.
Quite a few of you are probably raising your eyebrows right now. But in Japan this is very common. It is a custom known as "the first errand". It is the child's first introduction to true independence. Ruru learns that he has the capacity to do something he has never done before. It's new boy coming back, full of confidence. This is an important step in building an identity about who he is.
 I'm not saying you should let your 3-year-old out in town by themselves to buy dinner. What I want to say, however, is that you can challenge your children earlier than you think, when it comes to creating independence and self-confidence.
When I was around 9-10 years old, my mother trained me in household economics. She gave me household money for the week and let me take care of the finances throughout the week. I had to buy food, give petrol money to my father and pay small expenses. The incentive was that I could keep the money that was left after the weekend. Guess if I was skilled at looking at red price tags and discounts in the grocery store and asking my parents if they really needed to buy certain things.
Today I can see how it has created a useful independence in me, for which I am grateful.
So what can you train your child, or maybe yourself in? What could be “the first errand" towards your own independence?