no, the AAP is trying to protect children from a poorly understood phenomenon. while we are much closer to understanding SIDS than ever before, it has been a long hard road to figure out the best ways to prevent it. the incidence of SIDS has dropped by almost 50% amongst certain groups, and it's because of the Back to Sleep campaign.
just because the recommendations change does not make the people who made them "stupid." it means that they are telling you the best advice they have, based on current research. when they have new research, they may change their stance.
a very very fine line. and you'd be surprised at what people have a problem with! i've been at the zoo before and noticed people giving little kids mean looks for just being kids. no bad behavior, just exuberance!
while children can be taught very good manners very young (my 9mo is better behaved in public than at home), and even a Western 2yo could have the dexterity for chopsticks, i think we still need to make allowances for the fact that young children ARE still learning how to handle their own emotions and trying to learn to control their world. that is very frustrating, and sometimes they are going to act up or melt down. hopefully they'll do it at home, but we aren't all that lucky all the time! i've heard about the French and their non-home-proofing ideas....i just don't know how to implement those strategies at MY house. my son automatically goes for ANYthing that he's not supposed to!
we have a local pizza place that acts as our "Denny's." when DS will NOT nap, we go out for pizza. he's only 9 months old, but he usually just falls asleep on our shoulders amidst all the commotion. we love this place, because they are SO kid friendly -- we've never had ANYONE, staff or guest, glare at us on the rare occasion that he is fussy, and he's usually so happy there that everyone loves him. everyone on staff knows his name.
i agree with you -- let the kids be kids, until they are being unsafe. the other day i was in my driveway and saw the neighborhood kids playing at one of the houses across the street, where they have a basketball goal. some of the kids were throwing ROCKS. the boy that actually lived there kept saying, "My grandpa told you not to do that!" but the others weren't listening. when they saw me they went somewhere else to play, but i couldn't help wondering, "If Grandpa knows the kids are going to throw rocks, why isn't he watching them?" i knew they'd been there for a while because i could hear them yelling from inside the house.
the idea that children are just miniature adults is an old, and old-fashioned, view. we need to move past this if we want our children to truly develop the ability to express themselves in a positive manner. so many children act out even more than their natures would normally have them do, just to get ANY kind of attention. if we were more willing to let kids be kids, perhaps they would mature in a more natural way, and be more self-confident and self-reliant.