Learning from little ones

Feel like you could fill a book with all the weird and wonderful statements you’ve heard from your kids? Ever been on the receiving end of an ‘honest’ comment from a kid (and a rushed “sorry, no filter on this one!” from their parent)?

There’s a reason kids’ quotes are popular topics everywhere from Twitter and Instagram to forums and blogs. Before little ones learn manners and pick up on the subtle ‘rules’ of social interaction in different contexts, they’re pretty happy to say whatever is on their mind.

Behind that lack of inhibition is something deeper, too. Kids don’t have the hindrance of past experience to hold them back from enjoying life. And that’s where the lessons lie.

Dreaming big

Ask a little kid what they want to be when they grow up, and chances are you’ll get anything but doctor, lawyer or engineer. But that kid who’s determined to be a crime-fighting dinosaur when he grows up might be on to something. Same with the little girl who wants to drive a garbage truck.

What would your career path look like if you didn’t care what other people thought of your job? Would you have chosen a different job if you’d felt more confident in your ability to push yourself to be the best – at whatever you picked? What about if you based your choice on the opportunity to interact with people all the time, or build something tangible, or go on ‘adventures’ overseas?

Ask for help

As kids grow up, they learn how to do things for themselves. They establish independence, and that’s a good thing. However, especially when they’re younger, they also have no qualms about asking for help. That’s because they implicitly trust the people they’re surrounded with, and they know their parents or guardians will give them a hand whatever the circumstances.

If you’ve been feeling like asking a family member, friend or trusted colleague for help with something, try to remind yourself that your relationship creates a safe space where you can speak up and that it’s Ok to admit you need a helping hand.

Make friends easily

There’s a reason that most people make friends at a much slower rate as they get older compared to their school days. And it’s not just work, family or a lack of free time. Often adults judge people by their appearance, or are afraid that others are judging them, or are just too shy or afraid of being rebuffed to take things further than small talk.

You might not follow your kid’s lead, march up to a stranger and ask if they’d like to be best friends. But you can start small. Next time you make a new acquaintance who you’d like to be friends with, why not take the plunge and ask them out for coffee, a drink, or something related to your mutual interest/s. You’ve got nothing to lose.

Try new things

With the (notable) exception of most veggies, kids are pretty open to trying new things. Adults, on the other hand, have subconscious minds packed with memories of being injured/being upset/getting in trouble. The desire to avoid negative experiences can cause us to play a little too safe in the way we lead our lives and mean that we miss out on the joyful moments as well.

Before declining an opportunity or invite to do something new, ask yourself why your first instinct was to say no. After all, life’s too short not to take chances.

As the writer William W. Purkey once said:
“You've gotta dance like there's nobody watching, love like you'll never be hurt, sing like there's nobody listening, and live like it's heaven on earth.”