12 Things that kids can teach you

“Say Thank you!”

“Say Sorry!”

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

Kids are genuine! Their ear to ear smile and their loving gaze are gratitude enough.xsgapcvboju-dmitry-ratushny

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.

_h_wega3ego-abigail-keenanAs we grow up, we let our pre-determined script guide all our interactions with the outside world. We can learn not to be judgmental in our behavior and see situations with fresh eyes.

4.)Dream fearlessly

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.wr3hgvx_rsm-thiago-cerqueira

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.

8.)Resilience

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.

3766009204_8721a00dde_mHow many of us have the audacity to unfriend people around us? We covertly do it on social media but to say it directly is the deed reserved for the brave hearts.

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.

4k2lip0zc_k-ben-whiteI am immensely thankful for their short memory that makes them forget about the times I raised my voiced at them. (my bad parenting moments that I feel super ashamed!)

12.)Love thyself

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.

 

 

Kindness matters!

Have you ever experienced going to a grocery store and while checking out at the counter you realize that you are couple cents short? The person behind you smiles and says “I have it covered!”.

What about one time when you witness someone give his lunch to the homeless standing at the traffic signal?

These people do what they do without expecting anything in return. These unselfish acts of kindness are driven by basic human nature of goodness.

I am fortunate to have experienced these random acts of kindness, and I draw from these memoirs when I need inspiration to re-establish faith in humanity. With this post I want to honor these ordinary people with extra ordinary heart who act selflessly, and the only way to pay them back is to pay it forward.

Couple years ago, one afternoon I was driving back to my house in San Diego, California, and I saw that the car in front of me stopped suddenly even though the traffic light was green. I waited impatiently and saw a man got out of the stopped car. He signaled the traffic in other lanes to stop, and then I saw the most unusual and cute sight- a mother duck and her six tiny ducklings were crossing the road.

Duck Family
Duck Family

The man from the car escorted the ducks safely to the other side of the road and disappeared into the moving traffic. Life continued, but the incident made me reflect on what I would have done, had I been in his place? I would have surely swerved my car to avoid the feathered friends, but to take the initiative like the man in the car, is an act of courage and kindness that I found inspiring.

I experienced something similar this year, but this time the place was New Delhi, India and instead of the duck family it was me with my niece and kids. As it was a hot summer afternoon, I decided to take the three children for some frozen treats in the shopping mall nearby.

Rickshaws lined up waiting for business
Rickshaws lined up waiting for business

We took a wonderful cycle-rickshaw* ride from our house to the mall and enjoyed ice-creams. On our way back, we were to cross two streets to go back to the rickshaws. It was rush hour and there were no traffic lights or pedestrian crossings, so I had to cross the street at my own risk with kids holding my hands. Even after fifteen minutes in the scorching sun and multiple failed attempts to cross the road I found myself standing on the edge of the street. I looked around for some locals crossing the street so that I could stick with them and cross in unison, but I found no one. As I was contemplating on my next move, a skinny man appeared in front of me. He asked if I needed help in crossing the street. I nodded as hard as I could. He must have seen the sign on my forehead ‘Help me please!’  After getting my approval, the man walked to the middle of the street and signaled the  oncoming traffic to stop. I was horrified to see the fast-moving traffic coming towards him.

Busy street of India with a Rikshaw in front
A busy street in India

There were cars, scooters and trucks; all honking and screaming but the man was able to stop the traffic. He then signaled me to cross the road. Like a important dignitary, my little convoy swished across the street as the frustrated crowd waited for the royalty to reach the other side. The man performed the same act of stopping the traffic on the other side of the street, and we crossed safely again. Voila! I took a deep breath as we reached our rickshaw ride. I thanked the stranger, and saw him walk carelessly and disappear into the dust of the moving traffic.

I had not called the man for help nor did the family of ducks crossing the road; and while there were so many passerby only one person identified the need of the situation and had the heart to take appropriate action. These acts of goodness, though small left an imprint on my soul.

Please share your thoughts and experiences where your life was touched by everyday kindness, and let these tiny ripples inspire many more.

*Cycle Rickshaw is a three wheeled cart pedaled by a person. It is also called ‘pedicab’. It is one of the many means of transport in India, generally used to travel short distances.

Duck Family Photo credit: Tiniest Tiger / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Rickshaw Photo credit: Andrea Kirkby / Foter / CC BY-NC

India Traffic Photo credit: Maanas Rai