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.

 

 

Ready for a refill?

I was disappointed as the pasta and the soup did not come out well last night. I followed the recipe as always but still the taste was not up to the mark. I was exhausted, as past few days had been very busy—the usual never ending chores of laundry, dishes, cooking, cleaning, guests and family time seem to have finally taken a toll. It was time for me to step back and deliberate!

I recalled the phrase that I had recently read- ‘You can’t pour from an empty cup’, which means that I cannot give goodness to others if my cup is empty. I smiled to myself as I had solved the mystery of the crappy tasting dinner.I had put myself at the end of the giving chain, and after days of giving, giving and no receiving, I felt spiteful and irritated. In my not so happy state of mind, I am pretty sure that I did not spread the goodness that I intended to do.

I cannot teach kids to be ‘kind and gracious’ when I am like a bomb ready to explode! And I cannot make great food, when I am hungry and bitter!

So, it was time for me to refill my empty cup. In order to do so, I needed to devote time for activities that feed my passion and interest. It meant for me to read and write, go for my fitness schedule, and to get a good night sleep. If I do these I am a happy camper, and ready to spread the sunshine.

love yourself quoteInvesting in self care does not come easy to me, as I often succumb to the pressures of what a woman ought to do to nurture the family. The roots of putting my needs at the bottom go deep into my formative years. I remember being taught in school and beyond to always respect others. The following phrases are ingrained in my mind-

“Be Nice!”

“Be Kind!”

“Help Others!”

“Show Compassion!”

“Say Thank You.”

“Selfish is bad.”

These phrases define good character values that I was taught and expected to imbibe to become a fine lady (which I suppose I am now). All these values were focused on ‘respect for others’, but none that taught me to respect my own needs.

These good values indeed helped me to get socially accepted, but at this stage of my life I realize the importance of ‘filling my own cup’ too. If this is being selfish, then selfish is not all that bad! My soul gets charged and I feel ready to give the goodness back, after some ‘me time’.

With this newly found knowledge, I inspire to become more conscious and not feel guilty to say  “I am ready for a refill!”.

One thing I am still struggling with though is the means to pass on this wisdom to my kids. I do not want them to be self obsessed and be selfishly selfish, but at the same time I want them to recognize the importance to keep themselves in priority, and not feel guilty about it. I hope that they would learn this, like any other skill, by the power of observation.

So, do you believe in the concept of filling your cups, or not? I am interested to know the activities that keep you positive and charged.

Photo credit: Yashna M / Foter.com / CC BY

Photo credit: symphony of love / Foter.com / CC BY-NC