It’s our role as parents to guide our kids—both in what we say and what we do. In their early years, we worry about the ethical values and principles we need to instill and how to go about it. But every once in a while on that journey, we stop and realize it’s sometimes them guiding us. Here are a few life lessons our little people teach us every day.
1. Stay curious.
Children are tiny scientists from the get-go. From the moment they’re in their high chair, they’re dropping food onto the floor and wondering where it’s going. As they grow, they crawl into cabinets, stop and ponder stray insects, mull over puzzles and children’s games, or ask us relentless questions. Children have a way of reminding us of the thrill of discovery, and the fact that there’s always more to learn.
2. Stop for things that make you happy.
Kids will literally stop and smell the roses when given the chance. To them, the world is still full of wonderful things—and though that’s true for us as well, we sometimes fail to see it. Kids love the little things that bring them joy, and they never feel the need to justify taking the time for that happiness.
3. Express true feelings.
Shame and guilt are things that we carry with us when we’re older, but children have no shame in talking about the truth of what they feel, whether that means deep fears, open wonder, or profound love. They cry when they’re sad, and they shout with joy. Most of us could use a similar life lesson in expressing our emotions without fear, and in valuing the emotions of others.
4. Commit wholeheartedly.
Children are some of the most passionate people you will ever meet: they throw themselves into the right activity for hours. Kids have a way of pouring themselves into things that they love, whether that means painting a picture or creating a world out of building blocks. When they try something, they try it with all their might.
5. Dream big.
For kids who don’t yet understand how the world works, there seems to be no reason they can’t do anything they want, and so they imagine that anything is possible. Why can’t they become an astronaut, or run for president? They aren’t afraid to chase these visions of their future, or to act them out as best they can—which is an attitude most of us should adopt!
6. Be fearless.
Sometimes, kids can surprise you with their courage. They’re ready to jump into a game with new friends, dive into the deep end, or try a new trick on their bike—without fear of rejection or the future (or even scraped knees). In growing older, we learn to be afraid, and it can be difficult to get back to the rush of fearlessness we felt in childhood.
Sure, as an adult you have plenty of responsibilities to take care of, and a new mindset won’t change that. But reconnecting with your inner child can help you revisit some of the values you held when you were younger—even if it only means occasionally kicking off your shoes to run through the grass.