I am an early childhood educator, which means I have spent many days in the company of little humans. Interacting with multiple children allowed me to witness their many unique personalities and qualities. Being in their presence always reminded me about how incredible they are. These tiny people are a work-in-progress, with such potential ahead of them.

Adults can have such a tremendous impact on children, teaching them and leading the way by our example. I believe adults could benefit greatly by learning from children, too. So I’ve come up with this list of what we can learn from our precious little people.

Children are honest about their feelings – let’s do the same:

Young child being comforted by two older children
The honesty children show when it comes to their feelings is inspiring. Children are open to exposing their true selves and changing emotions. When children are scared, angry, hurt, sad or lonely, they are not afraid to admit it. They can seek out comfort, and they allow others to help them overcome whatever it is that is making them feel a certain way.

There seems to be an unspoken expectation as we transition from childhood to adulthood. Society sends us implicit messages – we need to put on a brave face and show only our happy side. This is where we can learn from our children. We need to realise that showing our vulnerable side doesn’t make us weak, or inadequate. We are not a failure if we are struggling to be happy and cheerful all of the time.

For example, it would be nice if when asked the typical question, ‘How are you?’ that we abandon the expected response of ‘I’m good, thanks’ and replace it with an honest answer. If we felt safe enough with a person to say, ‘Well, actually, I’m really struggling today. I know that this will pass, but I could use some help if that’s okay.’

Imagine how liberating it would feel to speak the thoughts in your head, and know that you will be understood and accepted the way you are.
Imagine the authentic relationships we could have with others if we were able to show all sides of ourselves.

Slow down to enjoy the little things in life:

Child having fun by playing in leaves

Life is hectic. It’s chaotic. There are simply not enough hours in the day to get everything done. For children, the only thing on their ‘to do’ list is play. And so it should be. Children are only children once, and they should be able to enjoy being young and carefree. The wonder of childhood is lost far too soon. Their time to become an adult with adult problems will come. But likewise, adults are only adults once, and after that, well…we all know there are no second chances.

This is where we can learn from our children. We need to slow down and enjoy the simple pleasures in life. As difficult as it is, as hard as it is to switch off from the many jobs on our ‘to do’ list, it is crucial for our wellbeing to have these times. Too often we are in a rush to get to where we need to be.

We get frustrated when our children stop to smell a flower, bend down to watch a trail of ants marching in a line, or look up at the sky to marvel at a flock of birds soaring high. We hurry them along when all they want to do is stop and enjoy one of life’s simple pleasures. To a child, they have all the time in the world. They skip, they dance, they run – their heart light and free and happy.

Unfortunately, being an adult means we will always have a full schedule. We will always have something to do, somewhere to be.

Imagine how nice it would be to resist the busyness of life for a moment, to forget where you need to be next.
Imagine focusing your attention on the now, and truly seeing the beauty that surrounds you.

Accept people who are different to us:

Two children of different nationalities holding hands and walking together

Young children have this beautiful attribute, this belief that everyone is equal. They don’t care about the colour of skin, the way someone dresses, the things people believe in, or the things people choose to do. Children don’t have unrealistic standards of beauty and they are not impressed if someone has loads of money or expensive possessions.

It is like children have this magical quality – an ability to look straight through someone’s external features and see right into their soul. They find a connection, that wonderful human experience that ties us all together.

Children learn from adults and it is only when they see adults expressing other people’s differences that they start to question it themselves. They see the way we disrespectfully treat people. They hear the way we talk down to people, the way we scoff at people who don’t quite fit our image.

But we were once those innocent children, with eyes that only saw into the heart and soul of others. Then we grew up, into a world where we became aware of racism, violence and hate. Into a world that taught us that being different is wrong, and where we are expected to conform and bring down others who share different beliefs/heritage/skin colour.

Imagine the peace and love that would blossom, the connections that could be made, if we all just accepted everybody from all walks of life.

Be in the moment – take one day at a time:

Lady standing on a bridge with arms outstretched to the sun

Adults have a million things going on in their heads, trying to rush through one job to get to the other. It is hard to focus 100% when one’s mind is on tomorrow, next week, or next month. We stress, we worry, and we feel like our world is out of control. I think that is why we get so caught up in juggling so many things at once. We want to know we are in control of something. We can’t fully invest in something or give it our best, when half our attention is on trying to figure out the future, or we are wallowing in the past.

No wonder children are so free and happy. They don’t spend their time looking backwards or forwards. They focus on today – they live joyfully in the moment. Their eyes are bright and their smiles wide. They don’t have pressure on their shoulders, holding them back from truly enjoying life.

Imagine how lighter we would feel, how much happier and spontaneous we would be if we lived for today, and made the most of those moments, before worrying about the next.

Stay young at heart – be silly, laugh often and have fun:

Three children standing in water and splashing each other

As we move from childhood to adulthood, we lose our ability to stay young at heart. We take on adult worries and problems. Everyday life gets in the way. Our heart fills with the less desirable moments of our adulthood – storing our fears, resentments, hurts, worries, failures and losses. It leaves little room for true happiness, and we find we might not laugh or have fun as often as we would like.

Children laugh a lot more than adults, and not a day will pass without them being silly and having fun. Our baggage will not disappear, but it is important to make a conscious effort to let go, even for a little bit, so you can get right down to a child’s level and dance and sing and make a fool of yourself if you have to – anything to lighten your life and make your moments memorable.

Imagine how much happier we would be, how much more we would enjoy life, if our heart was light and our laugh was loud.

 

I’ve written these points for myself, as much as for everyone else, because as a natural worrier and over-thinker, I definitely need to do these more. Let’s all make a conscious effort to do this – I believe the world would be a much happier place if we all did!

Can you add to this list? Let me know if you can think of other ways adults should be more like children. Over to you!

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2 responses to “Children as teachers: 5 life-changing lessons for adults”

  1. Gus says:

    take time to smell the roses. You are right Suzi. We all need to remain children in our hearts. Perhaps its easier when one retires, or perhaps its just getting older and wiser, but I have changed a lot in the last few years , and am enjoying it !

    • suzifaed says:

      Thanks for your comment, Gus. I know it’s easier said than done, but I think people would be a lot less stressed and anxious (me included!!)if we could see the world like a child does. It would probably be easier when one retires, but it would be so nice if people can come to that realisation much sooner so their life can be made more enjoyable. I am glad to hear you have changed for the better. Keep smelling those roses 🙂

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Suzi Faed Author Avatar

Hello& welcome to my blog, What If Warrior

Here you will find my multi-topic blog, told from my humble point of view. I write from the heart; for me, self-expression comes easier through written words. If you would like to read more about my inspiration for this blog, click here.