“Say Thank you!”
These are the sentences I have often used in hope to teach my kids gratitude and kindness. But, a recent incident changed my theory-
My younger son got a playdough for his older brother using his weekly school stars.“Awwww, so sweet!” My heart melted, and I was touched by his thoughtfulness. I said to my older son, “ Say thank you!” To my chagrin, he ignored my humble request and went on doing his daily routine. An odd feeling consumed me that I did not do a good job of teaching my kid to be grateful, and also his disobedience hurt my ego. But something happened the very next morning that changed my heart. I saw my little munchkin playing with his big brother’s rubric cube. (This was the toy that my older son earned in his school for his good behavior. The star rewards in his grade are much harder to earn than my younger kids weekly treasure chest system.) I am giving this detailed background, because, my older child gave away the rubric cube to his little brother.….just like that.
I felt proud! This was the ‘his tiny heart could hold so much of gratitude’ moment.
I was reminded that gratitude does not always need words to be expressed. It is much profound in action.
This was the ‘I learn from my kids’ moment and also an inspiration to write this post. If we look intently into our everyday lives, we will find numerous such moments of learnings from children. Some I’ve summarized below-
1.) Gratitude is genuine
By adulthood, we become trained and attuned to saying and receiving the formal ‘thank you,’ so much so, that we tend to get dismissive of the signs of real gratitude.
2.) To be a philosopher
Children look at the world with amazing curiosity. That is why they constantly ask questions (which at some point gets annoying but I am sure you get the drift.)Their minds are free of preconceived notions, thus naturally more fertile to learn and absorb things as they exist, rather than, how the things ought to be.
3.) When life gives you people, do not judge
Take kids to a park or birthday party, they play with other children irrespective of their appearances, language or background. They interact without any discrimination and prejudice.
Kids have all kinds of dreams (lofty or not) which are unscathed by worldly advice. That is why they want to be astronauts, build time machines, be a superhero, a teacher, fireman, pilot, and so forth.
This ability to dream fearlessly is so crucial to moving forward in life. As we grow, we lose this ability as our dreams get tainted by the practicalities, the societal views, and our perceived self-worth.
5.)Pause when you need to
Kids have the ability to rest when they are exhausted, before returning to their usual hullabaloo.
As an adult, our daily grind consumes us such that we often forget to take out time for ourselves; The time to pause and reflect on our everyday lives is essential to reinvigorate our souls.
6.)Demand with all your might
Have you seen children pestering their parents for something? Kids try very hard and deploy various tactics- from saying ‘please’ to the howling drama until they eventually figure out what works best to get the desired outcome.
Some of us lose this ability to go after our goals with all our might. So, next time when you see a kid lying down on the floor in a mall, screaming for candies/toy, consider it as a reminder.
7.)Ability to Trust
When the parent throws the child in the air, the kid laughs out loud and does not shrink in fear. S/he knows that these are the hands that would not let h/him fall. This ultimate trust is called surrender.
Kids teach us that it is okay to trust each other to live a fulfilling life. And also to surrender to the love of higher power.
Kids fall and get hurt multiple times. But they get up, (demand their favorite band-aid) and join the fun again.
They remind us that as long as you are having fun, the falls cannot stop you from enjoying.
9.)Get the weeds out
“You are not my friend.” If someone is mean to the child, s/he is not afraid to stop talking or say the needful.
10.)Emotions are not to be suppressed
Kids do not suppress their emotions. They cry, scream, laugh out loud and keep living their life.
Repressing your emotions consumes a lot of energy and makes us less functional. We need to realize that it is alright to vent to stay healthy and happy.
11.)To forgive and forget
Have you seen children fight? They fight one moment and then they are best of buddies again. They do not brood over a situation for hours or days, filling the environment with negativity like we grown-ups do.
Children are not critical of themselves. It is the society in general that contributes to their changing self-image over time. We can learn from them to be comfortable in our own skins and indulge a little in self-love.
While we are busy teaching children about life, children teach us what life is all about. I am sure there are much more things to learn from kids than the ones mentioned here. Readers, share your moments of learning from children.