3 Lessons Adults Can Learn from Children
As a teacher, I have had the privilege of working with and getting to know young children over the past decade. It requires a limitless amount of love, patience, compassion, and understanding. Often I will refer to my students as my kids because they are such a big part of my life. Sometimes they even call me mom, which I accept as the highest compliment. What they may not realize is that while I’m teaching them, I am simultaneously learning from them as well. Believe it or not, adults can learn from children.
“Children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best hope for the future.” -John F. Kennedy
1. FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS
When I was in Kindergarten, my class participated in a time capsule project. Each child was asked to write down and draw a picture of what we aspired to become when we grew up. Naturally, I wrote, “When I grow up, I want to be a horse.” Okay, so maybe I didn’t completely understand the question. But perhaps I just had a different perspective.
Anyone who knew me in my early years was well aware of how obsessed I was with horses. I took horseback riding lessons, and I even preferred having toy horses rather than Barbie dolls. When I was unable to be around my favorite animal, I constantly drew pictures of them. Maybe instead of taking the question literally I actually meant, “When I grow up, I want to be something that I love and I’m passionate about.” It makes more sense. I aspired to become what brought me joy, and I wanted to share that happiness with others.
Ironically, when children grow into adults they often settle for careers that they are less than passionate about. We find something adequately comfortable that we are content with, and sometimes we never pursue our dreams. In an earlier post, I mentioned about discovering your Ikigai. Now that I am aware my childhood aspiration was slightly unrealistic, I can at least discover what brings me the same happiness and fulfillment in my adult life. Ask yourself, “What do I aspire to become?”
2. BE TRUTHFUL
Let’s face it, whether we like it or not, kids are brutally honest. Often at the worst possible timing. They will gladly tell you exactly how it is, regardless of your embarrassment. Children have absolutely no filter, and it is hilariously refreshing. Could you imagine if adults acted the same way?
Maybe it isn’t the best idea to say something that would intentionally hurt someone’s feelings. However, adults could all practice telling the truth more often. Instead of making excuses to evade responsibility or get out of something, we can just be honest. Have a respectful dialogue instead. The truth about who you are as a person will be conveyed through your actions.
Dishonesty will ensure a loss of trust and credibility. Being truthful about something upfront could prevent potential future conflict. Practicing genuine and honest behavior is healthy. Not to mention, it is always more satisfying to be truthful about how you feel rather than deceptive. Speaking the truth is liberating.
“While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.” -Angela Schwindt
3. IMAGINE A BRIGHTER FUTURE
One of the perks about working with children for so long is that I am able to see first-hand their pure, joyful sense of wonder and love. Their innocence is enlightening. It’s amazing how much you can learn from children if you devote time to meaningful interaction and observation.
Children do not know what it means to hate — that is a learned behavior. As adults, we have the responsibility to model the behavior which we expect to be reciprocated. I was always taught to treat others how I would want to be treated. To this day, I still uphold the same values that were instilled in me as a young child. I have grown and discovered things for myself, but those core values are essential in shaping and solidifying who you become.
Think of your own children or how you were as a child. Consider looking at the world from their perspective. Never stop questioning, discovering, and learning. See the world through new eyes. Your mind is a sponge, and you are soaking in everything that surrounds you. You are only limited to a certain mindset because you choose to be.
Use your imagination to open your mind to new possibilities. Listen to the child in your heart. You still have the capacity and eagerness to learn new things every day. Don’t ever lose your sense of wonder — it is what helps us to learn from children. Water the emotion that you want to grow. Instill seeds of love and compassion in our children so that we may build a brighter future together.