We often think that, as parents, our children should be more like us. They should eat like we do, use manners like we do, cooperate like we do and listen like we do! They should also walk like us, talk like us, and think like us – how exhausting it must be to be a child with this set of expectations upon us every day! Imagine, for a moment, if the expectation was inverse. Imagine if, as parents, the expectation was for us to constantly look to our child to learn how to see the world, interact with our peers, and move within society. Ludicrous, of course! Children after all, must learn from their parents in order to one day become, as we hope, independent adults.
Of course, the saying often goes, “I wanted to teach my child, but my child ended up teaching me.”
1. Tick-Tock: They follow their own internal clock. We might not always like waking up at 6am, but there’s something to be said for respecting your body – sleeping when you’re tired, rising when you’re ready.
2. NO! They’re not afraid to say no. We can all learn to say no a little more often! Children are certainly not afraid of this word.
3. They’re themselves – quiet or loud! They don’t worry about what other people think.
4. Learning Curve: They love to learn – they are naturally inquisitive and curious about the world, a quality we could often use more of as adults!
5. Every child is an Artist: Children are all artists – And so are we! A creative release is imperative to general happiness, even if you’re no Picasso, doing some sort of artistic pursuit is an excellent way to maintain happiness!
6. Often Outside: Kids play outside – Children inherently seem to know that the natural world is good for them, but as adults we often forget it. Go for a walk, a hike, or a bike ride!
7. Chill: Have you ever seen a kid sprawled out watching Curious George after a busy morning? They know how to chill! They aren’t sitting around worrying about what happened yesterday – they relax like it’s their J-O-B. At my house, we work hard, play hard, and chill hard!
8. Express yourself: They say what they’re feeling, good or bad. It’s not always nice, is it? But bottling up emotions is a learned adult behavior, and never healthy!
9. Everyday Joy. They find joy in the little things. A bug on the sidewalk. A shadow on the wall. A star. Maintaining this sort of child-like wonder isn’t always natural as busy adults, but taking a moment to stop and smell the roses truly helps us pause and appreciate the little things.
10. True Love. They love unconditionally – No matter what happens, a child’s love is unconditional. Enough said.
11 .They aren’t racist, sexist, or any other kind of -ist. The Ben Harper song goes, “When I was a child, I was not prejudiced/Hey, how about you?/This was something that I learned in school/Something they taught me to do.” Take a cue from your kid and let those preconceived notions go.
12. Laugh! When was the last time you laughed until there were tears in your eyes? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, laughter truly is the best medicine – and no one distills a better prescription for it than a child!
What have you learned from your child? Today and tomorrow, try looking to your child for lessons rather than having them look to you. Who knows – you might just find yourself a happier mama.