5 Skills We Can Learn From Kids That Will Make Us Better People
Using TikTok isn’t on the list
Children are great. They’re even better when they aren’t your responsibility or crying. But the upside of having to deal with their tantrums, and lack of toilet training, and their inexplicable fascination with putting things in their mouths, is that you get to witness first-hand how well they understand how to live.
There’s this magical window of time that children pass through where they haven’t yet learned to be afraid of making a fool of themselves or to worry about saying the wrong thing or to hesitate to show their true feelings. They remind us that it’s possible to be true to who we are.
Tragically, what usually happens next is that we, or somebody else, train this openness out of them. But what if we didn’t? What if we allowed them to teach us instead? Here are the top 5 lessons we could all stand to learn from children:
Say what you mean
If there’s one quality that children possess that the world could do with more of, its honesty. Children notoriously say what they’re thinking, and even though it can lead to some occasional awkwardness, it’s also the best way to dispose of any elephants lurking in the room.
Rather than tiptoeing around the questions we want to ask or the things we wish we could say, wouldn’t it be better if we just got them out in the open? Years of social conditioning make this a difficult one to jump right into, but anything that can be learned can be unlearned, right?
It’s okay to cry
A subset of children’s broad spectrum honesty is their ability to express their emotions freely. No child would wait three days before texting the boy or girl they liked, or pretend they weren’t upset if a friend did something which hurt them.
You can tell what’s going on in a child’s mind instantly, and that’s because they haven’t yet learned to hide their emotions. Meanwhile, most of us adults hide our feelings so automatically that we forget where we put them.
I’m not suggesting that we roll around on the floor screaming if we don’t get our way, but I feel like there’s a sweet spot somewhere in the middle there.
How to make friends
Be honest, how many close friends have you made in the last five years? Or even the last ten? By the time we reach adulthood, most of us are too busy pointing out how dumb everybody is to seriously consider befriending anybody who hasn’t gone through a minimum seven-year vetting process.
Children are still open enough that friendship is the default (even the shy ones get there if you give them a little time to warm up). And thanks to that they live happier, fuller lives. Plus they get to go to more birthday parties.
Don’t hold grudges
A lot of attention is given to children’s ability to freak out and throw tantrums, but less is paid to their ability to bounce back after their meltdowns.
Children are amazingly good at leaving the past in the past. No matter how much they cried at the time, they’ll never bring up the time you didn’t let them stay up past their bedtime in a future argument.
Maybe it’s because we’ve had so much more time to build up our repository of grievances, but surely we’d all be happier if we dropped some of that baggage.
Appreciate the little things
If you’re ever having a bad day, buy a child an ice cream (N.B. Don’t do this for a random child, your day will likely get much worse). Watching a child’s face light up over something so simple is guaranteed to improve your mood.
One of the great tragedies of becoming an adult and getting to eat all the ice cream you want is that you lose track of how great little things like that are.
A weird-looking stone, a plane flying overhead, snow, children are masters at appreciating the little things in life. They’re dialled into the beauty of life in a way that we could all benefit from imitating.
Adulthood is supposed to make us into better people, but as time goes by, I’m becoming concerned that it just turns us into better adults. I’m not convinced that that’s a good thing.
Maybe in a world where we have to go to work and pay our bills and manage all of our other myriad responsibilities, there’s no room for the frivolity of childhood. But I’m just saying; it wouldn’t kill us to appreciate a weird-looking stone every once in a while.