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Children and Adults: Who Teaches Who?

Updated on November 25, 2015

Adults teach children the basics and lessons of growing up. But if we lend an ear to a child, you'd be surprised to know that you can learn as much as your mind allows you.

How We View Adult-Child Relationships

Children are often viewed as information sponges because of the constant learning that surrounds them. Adults teach children about life- from creating sentences, brushing teeth and solving problems. To using manners, tying shoelaces and figuring out what sound the monkey makes. The world is new and bold through the eyes of a child, and anything is possible. Childhood is when imagination runs wild and free without many restrictions. As they continue to explore their minds, children seek adults to answer questions throughout their developmental stages.

Some of us often find ourselves interacting with children at a slower pace- as "little people", because of age. Individually, a child and adult's brain is different in size and information, but both are constantly changing as life experiences happen. An environment in which we interact with children is important. A restrictive environment creates low expectations towards children. Being that a child spends most of their childhood in school, it is important to create a creative and interactive setting. Some school structures have a set of rules or code of conduct of what one can and can’t do, creating a restrictive environment. A child with a passion for writing stories dreams of getting published, yet are told to wait until they are older. We involuntarily underestimate a child’s expectation because they are young.

Is "Childish" Thinking Actually Bad?

As a child learns and grows, they eventually reach adulthood. Our society today values the “work hard, play later” mentality. This practical idea reflects hard work with no social restrictions, as an opportunity for success and prosperity. Adora Svitak defines "childish" as irrational demands and irresponsibility. These qualities have no place in the ideals of the American Dream most of us grew up believing in. They are often frowned upon and deemed childish. Yet, living carefree and making illogical statements is what children do best.

Carefree days result in doing what one pleases with no worry of tasks needed to be completed. This can be imaginative play or role-playing for a child. Skills develop through activities such as story comprehension and exploring the world around them. Some of the greatest ideas were once viewed as illogical, like breakthroughs in the medical field, evolution and the creation of the computer. How big do we dream before we allow the voice inside our head to tells us it is impossible? Children can teach us how to embrace each day of boundless opportunities with an open mind.

Changing The Lens We See The World

Children dream big and aspire to be great with endless boundaries. When adults dream big, we tend to push them aside at the sight of challenge that makes the dream seem impossible. For instance, I have a dream of saving homeless animals and creating a safe haven for them. My mind runs the endless challenges I’ll face- lack of financials, veterinarian care, and finding property. Yet, the challenges became so clear once I shifted my perspective.

Looking at this dream through the lens of a child, I can see the end goal in mind. When I encountered a 7 year old girl at an after school program with a similar dream, she simply focused on the good of saving all the animals. Incorporating volunteer work and maintain a budget are steps I have taken towards achieving my dream. I learned that my day-to-day task should reflect what I want in the end. This is why learning between adults and children should be reciprocal. Children can teach us that our own mind can prevent us from seeing the bigger picture.

Generations develop and grow because of the lessons and values passed on from the previous generation. As adults, we have a responsibility to prepare this generation of kids. Active listening and inspiration are so important for a child’s growth. We shouldn’t focus on what a child can’t do; instead we should create opportunities for success.

Ways We Can Set A Child Up For Success

Involve child in scheduling their day

Assign age appropriate chores to complete

Love them for the way they are

Encourage positive behaviors and attitudes

Embrace mistakes so they can learn from them



I’d love to hear what YOU believe children can teach us. What are some other ways we can help our future leaders succeed?

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