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Lessons and Things We Can All Learn From Children
We don't know it all
The basic question of "what can we learn from children" was asked in the "answer" section of hubpages and struck a chord in me. Three years ago today I became an instant grandfather of two children, with two more soon to follow. It has been a true blessing watching my new grandchildren grow up and learn about the world and what I have learned in the process resonated with the question asked.
We as parents sometimes fall into the chasm of thinking we know so much more than our own children, but is it really true? Are there some things they know, some places their little minds take them, that we adults don't know or understand?
I believe that there is a whole host of things that most parents or grandparents can learn about themselves or the world around us from watching and interacting with children.
The joys of learning
The world around children, especially small children, is in a constant state of flux. Everything they see, hear or taste is new and different and that reflects in the joy of learning that nearly all children quickly embrace. We as adults very often seem to feel that we know it all, or at least enough to get by just fine, thank you.
What a loss that is for us! One needs only watch a two year old as he finds his first ant. Or leaf. Or flower. Whatever it happens to be the amazement, interest and excitement of something new is an almost palpable force as they bring it to Mama or drag her to see. As adults we seem to have lost that - the most interesting new thing to us elicits only mild enthusiasm and many new ideas are simply discarded as they do not agree with our pre-conceived notions of what is or is not. One of the best ways to experience this is to take your kids camping; especially for the younger children it is always new and exciting, with new things to discover and enjoy. Watch and participate with them in the fascinating world of nature, away from the familiar surroundings of home.
An older child might come home from school almost shaking with excitement that they are learning to read "cat" or "dog" but as that child ages the excitement fades and new things learned in school are seldom mentioned. How often have you told your high school student "I didn't know that!"? Not often, I warrant, but the real question is why not? Is it because we already know everything or because we're just not interested in learning any more and are slowly passing that attitude to our children?
Number one on our list might simply be that we can learn the lesson that learning is fun and exciting. We really don't know it all, and while it is unrealistic to think we should be interested in absolutely everything around us there really are interesting new things out there. Find them and re-discover the joys and pride of learning.
Children and Honesty
Small children are honest to a fault - they don't know how to lie. The hurt a small child feels is visible in their eyes when we lie by failing to follow through on our promises - why don't we recognize that and apply the knowledge that lies hurt to our own lives? As adults we lie more and more often, make promises we have no intention of keeping and often don't seem to care about the hurt we cause or that we have lost our integrity.
As children grow older many, if not most, lie more and more. Most parents will eventually begin calling their children on this behavior, requiring truth and honesty. The same parent will continue to lie to others, however, and not catch the irony of it. Older children learn quickly when adults fail to follow through on promises and muttered "whatever" of "yeah, right" comments are not uncommon. Why can we not learn from our youngest that honesty really is the best policy?
Children and change
Children do not live in a static world; it is forever changing. It is a strange dichotomy in that children need consistency (set bedtime, school every day, etc) but at the same time they are forced to embrace changes that might send an adult into catatonia. Consider the first time a small child ventures out into a white, snow covered world. What would you do? Run charging out to investigate the new phenomenon or slowly back up, slam and lock the door and call someone, anyone to find out what happened?
Experts tell us that such things as marriage, moving to a new home or taking a new job are incredibly stressful and should be approached with caution. I say that if we would learn to be more like children and expect and embrace the inevitable change that will happen in our lives we would be a lot happier and less stressed. The world isn't static for adults, either - we just often wish it were and do all we can to make it so. Learn from our children instead and welcome change, good or bad, and make the best of every situation we find ourselves in.
Yes, we can learn from children
There is actually an incredible number of things we can learn from our children. We might learn to trust as well as learn to gain the trust of others. We might learn to accept things as they are instead of demanding that the world and everyone else become just like us. Watching the intense concentration of a young child finding something new, we might learn to accept what is instead of what we want. It can work both ways as well; author Winsome has produced an article about childrens play that fits very neatly with this concept and I can recommend it as a very good read.
Watch your children, and the children around you, and find out for yourself just how much you can learn from the children. Grandparents may stand to learn the most; they not only have the most experience at life but are more aware that life changes.
© 2010 Dan Harmon