If you think that children always learn from adults and never vice versa, think again! Kids have plenty of useful ideas, and can also remind us of truths we’ve forgotten.
Here’s a starter list of how to (and what to) learn from your children and/or the ones down the block.
- The adage “Listen twice as much as you talk” isn’t just for conversing with people your own age. Hear out your children, too—and make sure you really hear
- If a child is struggling to put something into words, don’t prompt him or attempt to finish the sentence for him. Wait for his ideas and insights, rather than trying to replace them with your own.
- When faced with a problem you can’t solve, invite your children to brainstorm solutions. Young minds, flexible and unconditioned by “the way it’s supposed to be done” indoctrination, often see possibilities that adults can’t.
- Kids are naturals at “try, try again.” Avoid helping them too much, which plants the idea that efficiency trumps quality. Instead, emulate them and set a few ambitious goals for yourself.
- Truth to internalize: what looks like the insanity of trying and failing by the same approach over and over, may actually be the equivalent of a toddler’s learning to walk: every fall-down-and-get-up adds a little strength and balance until enough is accumulated for success.
- Toddlers are confident they can learn to walk and talk because they’re surrounded by people who’ve already learned. Find a mentor or otherwise associate with achievers you admire.
- Ask kids what they think you’re capable of. Their confidence may spur you to try something you thought impossible.
- Kids are rarely ashamed to express their true feelings. Not that you should condone name-calling or public meltdowns, but while helping your children put their feelings into words, keep your ears and mind open for insights into any of your feelings you may have been suppressing.
- Kids’ memories tend to select for the positive, and it takes a pretty serious offense to get them holding a grudge. Follow their example and don’t hold past mistakes against them or anyone else. Especially, don’t be the grumpy elephant who never forgets the tiniest offense and does everything possible to make sure the offender never forgets either.
- Children are also remarkably unbiased. If they make friends who look like the “wrong crowd” to you, get to know those friends personally before your judgment solidifies. It’s a proven way to uncover your hidden biases and to learn new ways of looking at the world.
- Learn about the larger world together: enjoy some of your children’s favorite books, videos, and other media with them. Then, discuss over hot chocolate what messages those media convey, what you each agree or disagree with (and why), and what new insights you each picked up.
- Number one thing adults should learn/relearn from children: there’s nothing wrong with having fun for fun’s sake!
Blessings to parents and children of all ages!