Five Things Adults Can Learn From Children

Five Things Adults Can Learn From Children
Five Things Adults Can Learn From Children

Years of babysitting and nannying have allowed me to spend a lot of time around children. Although I’ve changed my fair share of diapers, sat through many temper tantrums, and wiped away thousands of tears, I’m always left in awe of these little beings. Whenever I have a chance to really evaluate my interaction with children, I always come back to the same thought; adults can learn so much from children!

Somewhere along the line, we lose touch with our childish nature. While many people see “growing up” as a necessity, I see much of it as a loss. While some maturation is inevitable, I really think there are (at least) five areas that it can serve us to remain childish in.

1. Seeing the world as our oyster   

As children, we see the world as a place of endless possibilities! When asking a child what he or she want to “become,” a whole spectrum of answers are given. Often, the adult asking will quietly laugh and think to himself, “That’s so sweet, but one day she’ll realize that becoming a ______ isn’t really likely.”

Sure, there are some things that are a bit harder to bring to fruition (my life experience tells me I will probably not become a professional pole-vaulter within this lifetime), but I feel that most adults live in a world full of limiting beliefs. Sometime during the growing up process, “I can be anything,” turns into, “I can sit at a desk for eight hours a day and stare a computer screen.”

Be realistic, but let go of those limiting beliefs! If you are truly in alignment with something, it will happen.

2. Experiencing emotions fully

Children are such good examples of this. While their emotions may not always come at ideal times (e.g. a tantrum at a supermarket), they’re completely comfortable experiencing them. When a child is upset, you will know it. When a child is happy, she expresses it (side note: I can’t think of many things that are as beautiful as a children’s laughter). It’s not until adults start expressing disapproval that a children begin to suppress their emotions.

Awhile back, I made a video called It’s Okay to Not Be Okay. I made it because I had been struggling with a “need” to be always up-beat, positive, and happy. While I am a strong believer in the power of positivity, I also think it’s important to experience one’s emotions and not refuse them. If you’re feeling sad, give yourself permission to cry. If you’re feeling angry, really feel that emotion. If you’re feeling giddy, dance and twirl and laugh! Accept the flow of life and don’t condemn yourself or others for experiencing the full spectrum of emotions.

3. Releasing emotions

In the same vein, most children are good at allowing their emotions to flow and releasing them. If you’ve noticed, children don’t really hold grudges the same way adults do. If a child feels the emotion of sadness, he cries. But as soon as that emotion is gone, he’s back to neutral. As adults, many of us have a tendency to hold onto our emotions. We get caught up in them. Sometimes, we even become so identified with being sad, or angry, or happy, that we link ourselves with that specific emotion. When this happens, people can get trapped and revert to this emotion…even when there’s not a real reason to feel it.

One of my good friends has a quote, “You are the sky and your thoughts are the clouds.” For adults, most emotions are simply reactions to thoughts. When we view ourselves as a clear sky and our thoughts/emotions as clouds, it allows them to flow freely and be released.

4. Viewing life as a playground / feeling child-energy 

One of the most fascinating things about children is their ability to play anywhere! While some of this ability is being hindered by constant exposure to technology, children are naturally content to play with anything. Life is their playground and they are full of abundant child-energy.

As we get older, it seems like we develop a constant need for new/different stimulus. We’re no longer content to just sit and “be.” Similarly, we lose the element of play in our daily lives and get caught up in the routine of things. When we really tap into that pure child-energy and allow whatever we’re doing to be a form of play, life becomes blissful!

5. Respecting our desires / needs

Another one of my favorite things about children is how in tune they are with their desires and needs. When a baby is hungry, she cries. When she is happy, she coos. When she is tired, she sleeps. But when that same baby starts to grow up, adults gradually remove her natural instincts. Even if she’s not hungry, she has to sit at the table until she finishes dinner. Although she feels a strong need to get up and play and move, she has to sit at a desk all day.

While routine can be beneficial, I feel sometimes we’re doing ourselves a disservice by relying on it. Why eat if you’re not hungry? Why force yourself to stay awake if your body needs sleep? Why stay in an environment you feel uneasy in? Almost always, our first instinct is the correct one. Instead of shutting out your natural intuition, try tapping into it and see how much more in alignment you’ll feel!


16 Responses »

  1. This was lovely!!
    I’m 18, and so in Ireland at least I am technically an adult and for a while I haven’t had that childlike nostalgia. This made me feel like a kid again.
    Lorna xx

  2. Brilliant..just brilliant. I always thought of myself as a big kid because I can relate to children with the exception of the fact that I hide when I’m upset or down.

    • Ah, yes! I completely love that. Although I lost touch for awhile, I’m so into my playful child-energy now.

      As I mentioned in the post, I’m there with you in regard to hiding the negative side. Try opening up when you’re feeling those emotions! I’d love to hear how it frees you. It will be uncomfortable at first, but it will allow you to get so much more in touch with yourself.

  3. Such beautiful reminders! I have two nieces, aged 3 and 5 and I absolutely love spending time with them as I always get to see our world through their eyes and it’s as if I’m seeing things for the first time again. They are our best teachers!

  4. I visited my older brother after a Long, arduous, dangerous, eye-opening trip to Afghanistan, we sat down to dinner, with his lovely wife,and his adorable 3 year-year-old daughter ( he chose the path mos traveled by: the MD degree, the marriage, the child, the house a stone-throw- away from our parents) I looked at them and my eyes clouded with a thin film of tears. After dinner, my older brothers tactfully asked if I. Wanted to talk….. I broke down and said : “I want what you have, a child to hug me like Mia does, a wife as real as Dee is, I’ tired, ” I said, wiping the tears, and trying to clear the lump on the back of my throat. He left the dishes he wa wipin off before stacking them on the shelf, and touched my shoulder: “but you lead such an amazing life!” He said, referring to my life as a traveling photojournalist. …. That was 15 years ago.. Now I have an amazing 14 year-old-daughter, the most wonderful wife, an three dogs: Charlie, George, Lady. Happiness is an illusion unless you can share it with others! I’m happy! :-)

  5. I love this! I actually see myself doing a lot of this, but it took me years to be okay with certain things (such as not being serious all the time – I always had a fear that people wouldn’t take me seriously if I was as goofy with them as I was with my loved ones). I also wish people would be more open to different possibilities. Sometimes, the best jobs are those we create for ourselves… but I do agree that people should stay grounded in reality as well.

  6. I really like this! I try to live every moment of my life passionately and maybe that’s why I feel like a kid in grown ups body, still playing. Just with way bigger toys and playgrounds.

  7. They say that travel makes you view the world through the eyes of a kid. That’s why people enjoy travelers, its so easy for locals to impress them as the things that we’ve become accustomed to are appreciated by those with fresh eyes. Just like with kids.

    This is something comedian Pete Holmes advocates on his podcast, accessing your inner child. I’ve excerpted his conversation on “being a kid again” and related it to the imagination that comes with travel and adventure.

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