Six important life lessons we can learn from children

As an adult, you have a duty to be a good role model and teach children important life lessons and values.

Your wisdom, experience and the examples you set will all contribute to giving your children a solid foundation for a good life.

But what about the other way around? Have you ever stopped to consider what lessons our children can teach us? Here are six important lessons that we can learn from children.

1) Forgiveness

It’s no secret that playgrounds can be like battlegrounds. With lots of competition and bickering, they can get rather argumentative. But children don’t often had a grudge, and as quickly as fight is started, it’s forgotten.

As a result, children have a healthy tendency to forgive and forget quicker than an adult would usually do.

Often, time spent mulling an argument over internally isn’t a positive approach, as we are focusing on the dispute itself rather than weighing up a solution for it.

Whether we feel at odds with a colleague or a loved one, having the ability to process this feeling and forgive rather than carry a grudge can prove extremely beneficial, allowing us to get on with the important things in life.

And by forgiving others not only are we relieved of the burden of bitterness and angst, but we encourage others to extend more generosity towards us too. And we can hope that if we deliberately or inadvertently hurt others, they’ll be just as forgiving in return.

2) Honesty

An important and priceless characteristic of children is that they are brutally honest. They often have no filter, but they’re excused for naivety.

And while we’re not condoning rudeness (as an adult it’s hard to get away with cute naivety!), being a little more honest and straightforward can be beneficial.

In an atmosphere of openness at work, constructive criticism can lead to the best results. It also enables people to see areas they can improve in, and increases trust in both the company and leadership.

It’s extremely important to remember the R word when being honest: and that is respect. Honesty that is delivered with kindness and intended to help someone is usually welcome – even if it’s painful in the moment to receive.

But honesty that is not delivered with thought and care can hurt and even damage people. There’s also a risk that you might be wrong in your opinion. So tread carefully and consider the feelings of the person you’re sharing your version of the truth with – and be prepared to be proven wrong!

3) Enthusiasm

Imagine if you cold bottle the excitement of children over… well just about anything (except bedtime)! Children have the wonderful ability of embracing life with gusto – an enthusiasm that often wanes once we reach our teenage years and beyond.

Children love new experiences and will usually launch into them with energy and enthusiasm, and a healthy sense of competition.

Imagine approaching life as an adult with the same curiosity, optimism and fire? Of seeking out new experiences and challenges ‘just because’? How much more would we do? Achieve? Even enjoy?

And how infectious would our enthusiasm be, encouraging others around us to see life through new eyes too, and making people want to be around us and experience some of our joy and energy?

4) Determination

How may times over the past year have you given up or cancelled something? How often have you cancelled plans to go to the gym because it’s cold and wet outside? Or made a lame excuse to meet a friend because you prefer to get into your pyjamas?

Children rarely bail on plans once made. It’s raining outside? No worries, they’ll just pull on a waterproof jacket. They’re feeling a bit tired? A quick run around the room (possibly pretending to be a plane) will soon get their energy levels up.

Children don’t just exist, they’re determined to live life to the full. And they don’t let anything get in their way. So the next time you feel like cancelling plans you made – even if they’re just a promise to yourself – follow them through anyway. If it helps, run around the room (although maybe not making plane noises) to get your blood flowing.

5) Living in the moment

Okay so having fewer responsibilities like mortgages, rent and bills helps, but have you noticed how much easier children find it to live the now? With fewer responsibilities and the pressure of deadlines, children are able to make the most of every moment, deriving joy from often simple pleasures.

By not worrying about the future, they’re able to focus on having fun right now. But as adults we can get so weighed down down by life and future responsibilities that we forget to enjoy ourselves in the present.

So take a leaf out of your child’s book and take a break and have fun; go somewhere, see your friends, or take up a sport. Anything that gets you out of your head and in the moment – and preferably laughing.

6) Confidence

While they may care if they’re liked by their friends and classmates, children don’t usually waste time worrying about what other people think about them.

By the time we reach adulthood though, we can be a bag of nerves worrying about other people’s opinions – even people we don’t know, won’t meet and shouldn’t really matter to us.

If we can adopt the mindset of only caring about what we think of ourselves (while still acting kindly and respectfully to others), we’ll be far comfortable in our own skin.

While as adults we have more responsibilities to take care of, there are many positive characteristics we can take from children. So maybe its time we took a leaf from their book?

Photo by Charlein Gracia