As parents who aim to impart as much as they can to their children while they are young, we understand that the younger they are, the more impressionable and easily teachable. However, there is so much we can learn from them as well. Here are 7 traits we can pick up from children as we put ourselves in their size 2 shoes and see the world through their pint-sized point of view:
1) Cry Often
It's annoying but we can learn something from children there. Not the wailing and thrashing about and temper tantrums, those are just childish in nature. We need to cry often for the things that are not good nor right that happen in the world and in our life. When we witness or experience injustice and cannot do anything about it; when it is a time to grief for a senior relative taken by Covid; when we hear the abuse coming from the neighbour's; it is sometimes needful to be concerned or upset about the unnatural order of things.
Children may cry when they're uncomfortable, sleepy, hungry, unwell or just plain don't like the stranger carrying them. They wear their heart on their sleeve and are not afraid to express this emotion. It is a trait that when we use well and appropriately, shows we are still human.
2) Laugh Often
Crying out of anger and frustration is a normal response. But when was the last time you laughed so hard you cried (and maybe got a hoarse throat)? Laughter is an expression of joy or amusement and happiness. Children are easily tickled pink by simple things like "peek-a-boo" or a literal tickle on the belly. As much as they cry easily, they find joy easily too.
Laughter furthermore increases dopamine (happy hormones) and reduces cortisol, or stress levels. Hence the saying that it is the best medicine. So get your daily dose, finding things that spark joy in you and brightens your day. Smile a little more, because the smile muscles will trigger your brain to feel better automatically. Learn to laugh as easily and children would.
3) Be vulnerable
Children are literally weak. Being small and fragile forces them to have total reliance on the adults around them to help and look out for them. There are many things they cannot do on their own and require assistance often. We need to be more like that too.
Perhaps accountability may be one aspect in which reaching out to others for help will provide us. Ultimately it is the safety net in looking to others, seeking their assistance in areas they are more knowledgeable in, and even allowing us to be vulnerable with such friends so they know to be there for us when the chips are down. Surround yourself with well-meaning and emotionally-mature adults who can lift you up when you’re down.
4) Fall Down and Get Up
Kids fall and bruise easily. When they are younger, their reactions to minor adverse situations like a little fall can be dramatic when their parents respond dramatically too. They take their cue from those who seem to know how to respond in the right situation. But eventually they learn how to get up and brush away the dirt, and continue on their task or journey.
We need to learn to fall well, take the pain, then get back up and brush off the dust. We need to be adamant to carry on and live well despite our setbacks. Maybe we need the support of others to lift us up, but at least it will mean we get our legs back and press on. It may hurt for a while for now, but falling down will teach us to get up faster the next time.
5) Observe and Learn
Children are so observant and learn everything like a sponge. The first few words a child speaks are usually what the parents repeat often to him. It might be “daddy”, “mummy” or “tv” depending on their exposure. They pick things up fast and can replicate or emulate behaviours and mannerisms. The child is a stark reflection of their parents, so there’s no escaping “monkey see, monkey do”.
Adults can learn to be teachable like children. Absorbing and repeating and acting out positive traits from others. As you surround yourself with people of healthy habits and disciplined lifestyles, it will become natural to mimic them – their culture, jargon and attitudes. Do you hang out with people who you’d like to become more like? What are some of their traits you want to follow?
6) Be Innocent
Purity, integrity and honesty come naturally to a child. Lying also perhaps, given that we are all sinful by nature. But that can be disciplined out of them. Kids are generally innocent to notions of scheming or committing offenses against other children; they won’t be intentionally plotting revenge to hurt another person, or stewing over a wrongdoing done to them.
Retaining a child-like naivete is not much of a survival instinct, but it helps us as a adults to manoeuvre a difficult world without becoming pessimistic and critical. Just as we learn to get up quick when we fall, we also need to learn to forgive quick when we are offended. This prevents bitterness from taking hold of us; it also prevents our joy being sapped by some petty matter. We want to maintain our innocence this way.
7) Enjoy the Little Things
With increasing amounts of responsibilities as parents with growing children, it’s hard to enjoy life and take things slow. The children will run faster and faster as you attempt to keep up with them; work will get more tedious; chores will never be done; Covid will become harder to recover from. But children are easily satisfied and intrigued by the little things. From the beauty of nature to simple toys they play with, life is always new and interesting.
We can learn to stop and smell the roses. Enjoy the cool after-rain air, a colouring book (it’s therapeutic), visiting friends… it’s the simple things that are lacking in our complicated world. Kids are satisfied with the ordinary and mundane, we could take a breather from the noise of our devices once in a while too.
At David & Goliath Preschool, we believe in helping each child grow towards their potential now and in future. Each child is nurtured to be moral and mature, so that they are ready for a VUCA world.