Children can teach us adults many things. The more we pay attention to kids the more we can learn. Seeing all the positive attributes children possess, the question arises: Why do adults try to change so many? Especially, when nowadays we associate so many success factors for personal development with the positive attributes once possessed as a child? Let us have a look at what can be learned from children.
Always be curious
Children are interested in all the new things they encounter. And they are exposed to a lot of things, most of them for the first time. They are facing it with curiosity and without prejudice; interested in learning about it.
Kids are not afraid of talking to a stranger or other kids with different backgrounds, because they simply do not know that others are different. Children have no problems interacting with others. It is their environment and group dynamics which lets them be selective on their friends.
For kids every day is a new possibility. They wake up ready to explore the world. Their enthusiasm seems endless and what was yesterday is in the past and already forgotten. Every day is a new start, a new possibility.
Sometimes the energy of children seems endless. Chasing others during school day and playing soccer all day? Going for a walk or bike ride that lasts hours to catch Pokémon? That is no problem for kids.
Get lost in an activity
Children can get so lost in their play that they do not recognize how time passes. Sometimes it needs to get dark, so that they cannot play outside anymore to make them realize how long they actually have been playing. They can be so focused in their play that they miss dinner, even though they were already called on three times.
Be happy for no reason
Especially smaller children seem to smile for no reason. They are living in the moment. While do we always have to smile at little children? – Because we expect them to smile back. And most of the time they do. They see a smile and simply reply with a smile. Sharing and multiplying the joy of others just because of the pure joy.
Enjoy the simple things in life
Their eyes are open for the small and from our perspective simple things in life. Children enjoy sitting on the grass on a sunny day watching the butterflies. This makes them happy. They recognize all the beauty which exists around them.
The saying goes that you can ask drunken people and children anything and they will reply honestly. No matter how personal a question might be. Children will speak the truth and state their opinion frankly. In that way everybody is able to see what is going on inside of them. Aren’t the inner feelings the most beautiful and most valuable things a person could share?
Fight tirelessly for what you want
Children’s stubbornness can be impressive. They aren’t shy of asking for something they want. And they are not afraid of using the most drastic techniques. They do not overthink things and just throw themselves on the floor in a crowded supermarket and start screaming because they desperately want that chocolate bar. What happens most of the time? Children get what they want.
I would call the crying on the floor tactic very creative (from the children’s perspective. From the parents perspective it is a disaster though!) But also in their play kids become creative, using their imagination to transform a simple stick into a broom, an empty can into a football, and so on. They aren’t just thinking outside of the box, for them there is no box at all.
Never give up
Children’s persistence should not be underestimated. First they ask Mom for approval. They get a no. Then they ask for Dad’s approval. Sometimes this already does the trick. If not, children might come up with a sheer endless amount of reasons why it would benefit them to, for example, sleep over at a friend.
Ask repeatedly why
If parents answer with no, however, they’ll better be prepared for a good reason. The combination of stubbornness and curiosity demands an explanation for everything. Add the creativity to overcome obstacles and you find yourself in a discussion you cannot win – unless you have a profound reason. ‘We have done it always like this’ or ‘why not’ are not satisfying answers.
‘Can I have it?’ How many times do parents hear this question? I do not know the answer, but I guess quite a lot remembering how many times children encounter new fascinating things. Not all the time parents can answer it with yes. It is simply not possible to keep an elephant in the backyard. That is the way it is and children will accept it and move on. Being happy with what they have. It was worth trying at least, right?
Be the hero
If children tell a story they are the center of it. Children are their own hero in their stories. They are the prince that rescues the maid, they have fought the big dragon and they have lived happily ever after.
Children have a huge imagination. Their creativity knows no limits. So why not dream big? Children believe that they could become anything they want. For them everything is possible, because they know no restrictions.
Fall, but get up again
How often have you seen a child falling down and immediately getting up again? Children are constantly testing their limits. That is the natural way of learning. They are growing with every step and every encounter. Falling is part of the process. Every time children get up again, they rise stronger.
Wear scars of the past with honor
Some falls lead to lasting scars or even broken bones. But that does not keep children from trying again. And all the struggle and pain make up a good story – a story for a hero who survived. Or why do you think children with a cast get all the attention and everybody wants to sign on it?
Perspective of a child
Let’s see what a child thinks we can learn from them. In the following TED Talk Adora Svitak shares her insights about creativity, bold thinking and optimism with us. Keep in mind that she was twelve when she gave her speech.
Is this all parents’ fault?
So why do we lose so many positive attributes once we are grown up? Children encounter restrictions mostly in the form of adults or society telling them what is not possible or cannot be done. This limits their activities, learning and imagination.
Adults want to protect their children. That is a good intention and we have to acknowledge that. In some situations it is even necessary to intervene and prevent a child from damage. These are situations where children cannot evaluate the results of their own actions, since they are still learning about the world. For example if children run towards a street, which might be a new experience for them, parents need to protect the children. Otherwise they would be hit by a car, which would result in serious damage to the children.
However, there are also a lot of situations where children need to make their own experiences; situations where guidance from parents is required, instead of the parents experiencing the situation for the child.
The next time we tell a child what is not possible, we need to think about the effect it has on that child and how it changes the child’s story. We should try to understand why the child acts in a certain way instead and reflect on what we can learn from it.
This post was written by a person, who does not have own children, but tries to rediscover his inner child. I make no claim to be an expert in parenting techniques and have just reflected on own experiences in this post. What I am interested in, however, is, why we lose so many positive attributes when growing up? Please share your thoughts with me in the comments or via the contact form.