Here are some important life lessons that you may pick up just by observing your tot.
1. The ability to trust
Your toddler doesn’t shy away from telling someone they love them, from giving warm hugs and kisses, and from showing how much he loves and adores someone. He is able to show that vulnerability because he trusts. When you tell your kewpie about the different animals at the zoo, or the different fruits at the supermarket, he’s taking all that information in completely and wholly, because he trusts you to give him the right info.
As adults, we hesitate to put our trust in others ― in ourselves, too, for that matter ― because we fear being vulnerable to failure. But by being more trusting, we can open far more opportunities to learn.
2. Looking at the little things
Most of the time, he’s distracted by something or other. He could be wondering why tonight’s broccoli is a lighter shade of green than the other night, or maybe, he spotted an ant on the ground and is curiously looking at its teensy little legs.
It might be annoying to us as adults, since most of the time we’re rushing around, trying to “get things done”. At the same time, we’re completely missing out on the little things that make the world so interesting.
We ought to take a leaf out of our toddlers’ book and remind ourselves that each day is a chance for a brand-new start.
3. Being honest
The truth can sometimes hurt, and as adults, we’re all familiar with that. But your munchkin isn’t! That’s why he isn’t afraid to speak his mind and say it like it is.
And don’t we all need people like that in our lives ― people who don’t over-analyse, don’t have hidden agendas and don’t feel a need to hide anything. Let your tot teach you to be truthful ― you’ll find that by doing so, you’ll be less selfish, and build more authentic relationships.
4. Every day is a new beginning
Remember how the end of your day in preschool, or even a day out with mum used to feel so final when your parents tucked you into bed? This is because as a child, you know that the next day brings new opportunities to have fun, make friends, learn new things and have awesome adventures.
That fight you had with your brother earlier in the day? It’ll be over by the time you wake up. That toy that broke and left you in tears this morning? It’s okay, there’ll be other things to play with tomorrow. Adults often harbour ill-thoughts for longer than it is healthy. We ought to take a leaf out of our toddlers’ book and remind ourselves that each day is a chance for a brand-new start.
5. Not being afraid to try
When you’re not crippled by a fear of failure and humiliation, you’re fearless. Says mum of two Nadirah Maf, “My 2-year-old is the first to want to go up on stage to volunteer during shows, or he will dance in the middle of a crowd at a party. As an introvert, I would never dare to do that!”
Unlike children who would splash in a muddy puddle, or jump on a trampoline when the opportunity arises, adults are hesitant because we fear consequences and the unknown. But when you view life with hope, determination and without worrying about what other people think of you and how you’ll fare, you’re embracing life and all it has to offer.
6. Accepting the way you look
Whether he’s pudgy or petite, dark or fair, your peewee doesn’t care. He’s not scrutinising the mirror, checking if he’s got double eyelids, rosy cheeks or if his hair is slicked back in the latest style.
And he doesn’t judge others by how they look either. He sees that little boy in crutches, or that little girl with the hearing aid, and he sees them for who they are ― and who they are on the inside. He accepts other kids, regardless of language, religion, or the colour of their skin. Adults, too, should have the courage to overlook differences and forget about having expectations when seeking friendships.
7. Not holding back
Dads, don’t tell your little boys to stop crying because “crying is for girls”. Toddlers cry because they are feeling upset, frustrated and it’s their way of acknowledging those feelings.
While adults have somehow managed to learn to suppress negative feelings, tots wear their hearts on their sleeves. And you know what, who cares what others think? If it helps you to feel better, a good cry on a loved one’s shoulder could be just what we need to help us feel better afterwards.
Adults, too, should have the courage to overlook differences and forget about having expectations when seeking friendships.
8. Forgiving and forgetting
Parents are the ones who often remain a little angry when we find that another child hit ours in preschool. Kids fight ― that’s for sure ― but what’s surprising is how quickly they move from fighting to becoming best friends again the next day.
They don’t dwell on who’s right, or wrong, or if there’s ever going to be payback time. Adults, on the other hand, often invest heavily in painful experiences by developing biasness and holding a grudge. Besides learning to forgive, we should learn to forget as well.
9. Using their imagination
It’s amazing how a 2-year-old can lose himself in some colouring pencils and paper, playing with a lump of clay, or building a sandcastle. It’s incredible how a 3-year-old turns his blanket into a picnic mat, a superhero cape, or a tent for his secret hideout.
As adults, we’ve somehow stopped seeing these creative undertakings as worthy of our time, and we’ve stopped realising the importance of using our imagination – something that comes all too naturally to our mini-mes.
10. Being in the moment
When your sweetie is having her little “tea party” with her dolls and teddies, you can be sure that she’s giving them her 100 per cent attention, making sure that everyone gets their cupcakes while she “pours” out their cups of tea. She isn’t thinking about what time she’s got to pack up her toys, take her bath, or go to bed.
In contrast, while we’re trying to read our toddler a bedtime story, most of the time, our minds are on that e-mail we forgot to send, or we are mentally ticking off the chores we have to complete after junior goes to bed. Indeed, it’s an incredible gift to be able to be so fully in the moment.
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