The Evolution Gap and Rule Eleven

Aug 14, 2023

Do not bother children when they are skateboarding

Jordan Peterson’s “12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos” provides insightful guidance on navigating the complexities of life. Rule 11, “Do not bother children when they are skateboarding,” emphasizes the importance of allowing children to engage in risk-taking behavior for their development. This rule, viewed through the lens of the Evolution Gap, offers compelling insights into human development, risk-taking behavior, and the necessity for individual growth.

I. Understanding the Rule

The eleventh rule, “Do not bother children when they are skateboarding,” symbolizes the importance of allowing children, particularly boys, to explore, take risks, and engage in challenging activities. According to Peterson, these behaviors are crucial for developing resilience, competence, and character, despite the inherent risk of failure or injury.

II. The Evolution Gap and Risk-Taking

From an evolutionary perspective, risk-taking behavior played a vital role in the survival and development of early humans. Our ancestors who were willing to explore new territories, hunt large animals, or experiment with unknown plants often gained substantial rewards, despite the associated risks. These behaviors shaped our genetic predisposition towards risk-taking, which remains essentially unchanged in the modern world.

However, our rapid societal progress has significantly altered the context in which this behavior occurs. Many traditional avenues for risk-taking (such as hunting or exploration) are absent in our current society. This creates a mismatch between our genetic predisposition towards risk-taking and the opportunities to express this behavior – a classic sign of the Evolution Gap.

III. Implications of the Evolution Gap on Child Development

The gap between our genetic inclination towards risk-taking and societal norms can potentially stifle personal development, particularly among children. Restrictive parenting or overly protective educational environments may limit the opportunities for children to engage in risk-taking behavior, possibly hindering their ability to develop resilience, self-confidence, and problem-solving skills.

Moreover, it’s important to note that the human brain, especially the prefrontal cortex responsible for risk assessment, continues to develop well into early adulthood. Overprotecting children can limit the necessary experiences that stimulate this development, leading to potential issues in decision-making and impulse control later in life.

IV. Bridging the Evolution Gap with Rule 11

Peterson’s eleventh rule offers a solution to bridge this Evolution Gap. By allowing children to engage in controlled risk-taking activities like skateboarding, we provide them with opportunities to experience, assess, and manage risk, facilitating their emotional and cognitive development.

Engaging in such activities allows children to explore their capabilities, face their fears, and learn to recover from failures, which are crucial for their development. The lessons learned from these experiences are invaluable, fostering resilience, adaptability, and confidence.

V. Conclusion

Peterson’s rule 11, “Do not bother children when they are skateboarding,” provides valuable insights into human development and the Evolution Gap. Recognizing our genetic disposition towards risk-taking and fostering an environment that allows children to express this behavior safely and controlled can significantly aid their development. In bridging the Evolution Gap, we must appreciate the value of risk and adventure in fostering resilience and growth, thus preparing our children for life’s challenges.