Children don’t learn to lie and mask their feelings until adults school them in ways to deceive and manipulate.
On a daily basis, I am surrounded with and interact with small children between the ages of four and eight. These remarkable creatures have taught me a great deal about being a better human being who is also committed to helping those around him be better as well.
Young people have much to teach us dopey adults regarding: forgiveness, emotional honesty, trust, compassion and inclusion of others.
While no child is perfect, there is much to learn when it comes to interacting with others and negotiating ongoing and important relationships.
Here are (five things) that my young charges have either taught me by verbalizing or exhibiting certain behaviors that stand in for feelings and thoughts that can’t be articulated.
1. Make and Keep Promises. My little darlings love it when they get to have a special day with me. Whether it’s a tea party, a trip to to the beach or park, the thing that matters is that we make and stick to our agreement. There is little tolerance for broken promises or forgotten outings. Adults could learn much from the upset that occurs when things change for no apparent reason and no explanation is given. Unless there is blood shed and or a missing limb, there is no justifiable excuse for breaking a promise.
2. Question things and challenge any and all inconsistencies. As kids grow and begin understanding the way the world works, they will often point out things that are inconsistent, wrong and just plain flat out lies. We could all learn to be so bold. When I married, my young people wanted to know two things : Who would wear the dress and who was the girl? We lovingly informed them that no one was wearing a dress and neither of us was a girl. They glanced at one another then hopped on their skateboards and took off.
3. Have a hardy laugh everyday. Children’s emotions are always changing. When they are sad or frustrated, they cry. When they are feeling happy and hopeful, they laugh and dance. Everyday they feel and express their emotions in ways that make hiding and subterfuge impossible. Wanna build a great relationship with a friend or significant other – create your own brand of humor and ways of seeing the world, it makes the days go faster and the not-so-nice times shorter.
4. Learn something everyday. Much like number two, children love learning and putting things together and creating theories. Let them. Reading stories, manipulating numbers and understanding that no vegetables eaten at dinner eliminates the need for cookies for dessert teaches them the brilliance and simplicity of cause and effect. Children typically don’t learn something and then unlearn it to suit their moods.
5. Be kind because you can and it’s the right thing to do. Children wake up happy and excited to greet the day. Being unkind, choosing to dominate another is a learned response. When children are learning and playing, it is always interesting to watch things unfold in ways that adults could never tolerate. Part of being kind is being kind with themselves. Young minds are not limited by what they can see or previous experiences. Being kind to self means that they allow themselves to dream. We can all learn from this philosophy. No child is dreaming of growing up and being with a person they despise or in a job they hate.
This is not a perfect list and yet if we allowed ourselves to incorporate just one of these suggestions the world might actually become a place focused on kindness, emotional bravery , laughter and learning.