Kids live by their instincts openly and without hesitation. They are enthusiastic about life, eager to learn, and curious about everything. Even though kids still have a lot to learn, just observing them can teach us many practical life lessons. These lessons are simple, yet pertinent to living a healthy, happy and productive life. Spend an afternoon watching a group of kids interact with each other and the world around them. You may be surprised at how clever they are. They handle themselves differently than adults, and there is much we can learn from their behavior.
Kids: they dance before they learn there is anything that isn’t music.
– William Stafford
Here are 20 practical life lessons kids can teach us:
- Live Spontaneously – For better or worse, kids do not plan a thing they do. They live spontaneously, taking in every uncertain moment for all it’s worth. It would be foolish to say that proper time management and planning is unnecessary in adulthood. However, it would also be foolish to ignore all the opportunities that spontaneously present themselves at unplanned instants throughout our lifetime. Occasionally you have to steer off course when you see gold shimmering in your periphery.
- Never Let a Lack of Qualifications Deter You – Kids are never concerned with their lack of qualifications. If they have never done something before, they are eager to test the waters. If they fail, they brush themselves off and take another stab at it until they get it right. Qualifications are usually just man-made restrictions proposed to keep passionate newcomers with grand ideas relegated to the margins.
- Exercise Can Be Fun – Kids exercise all the time, not because it’s healthy, but because it’s fun. They participate in sports, climb trees, play tag, etc. For some reason we forget that exercise can be fun. It’s just a matter of finding an active, healthy activity we actually enjoy doing.
- When Things Go Awry, Laugh and Move On – When kids are dealt an unexpected hand they usually chuckle and work around the issue. There are some things in life we just can’t anticipate. Even with a great deal of planning, it’s very possible that life will throw us a curve ball. We need to greet life’s curve balls with a sense of good humor and proactive fascination.
- Keep an Open Mind – A child’s mind is wide open to all the world has to offer. Kids make most of their judgments strictly based on first-hand experience. Few external influences have been present in their lives long enough to poison their judgment, and they are always ready to try something new. As we hit adulthood we become creatures of habit, comfortable in the familiarity of our surroundings. We shy away from anything with an unfamiliar taste. In doing so, we walk away from numerous opportunities and positive experiences.
- Other People May Identify Our Abilities First – Kids are not typically proficient at identifying their talents and abilities. A parent or mentor usually notices a child’s abilities and steers the child in the right direction. Adults too can be unconscious of their natural gifts. When something comes naturally to us we tend to overlook its significance. Our friends, family, peers and superiors may be able to clearly recognize our inherent talents and abilities before we do.
- Mistakes Can Open Doors to Exciting Opportunities – Unlike adults, kids do not beat themselves up when they make a stupid mistake. Instead, they examine the details of the outcome though curious eyes. Mistakes are often gateways to new experiences and educational growth. They may also expose voids in products and services that could lead to lucrative business opportunities.
- Use Your Imagination – Kids can have hours of fun with nothing more than a wooden stick and their imagination. They harness their imagination to discover new things about both themselves and the world around them. It is our imagination that drives both our dreams and our curiosity to chase them. If we lose sight of our imagination, we will never see our dreams through to fruition.
- Improvise Along the Way – Kids are rarely mired by hesitation or fear. They usually dive head first into every situation, leaping over hurdles and improvising their approach when they must. Sometimes we over-analyze our next move and hesitate in fear they we may not get it right. Truthfully, the chances are slim of ever getting it 100% right the first time. It’s usually more practical to plan your general course of action, get some forward momentum, and map out the details as they come over the horizon.
- Learn by Imitation – Kids observe the people around them with enthusiastic intensity. They typically mimic the actions that work and ignore the ones that don’t. As we grow older we tend to become less observant, instead relying solely on formal instruction for expanding our skill set. We forget how well we learned when we were young by simply observing others.
- Play – Playing comes naturally to kids because play time is fun time, and kids love to have fun. As we get older we forget how great it feels to let loose and play around. There doesn’t always have to be a purpose behind our actions. Sometimes it’s healthy to fool around and engage in recreation for the sole purpose of having fun.
- Be Creative and Do it Your Way – As I stated earlier, kids dive head first into most everything they do. They don’t always stop to ask for guidance, but instead figure it out for themselves along the way. This can lead them to uncover innovative, improved methods for accomplishing things. If you have a creative idea about how to accomplish something faster, smarter or better than the current method, do it your way and see what happens. You’ll never know unless you try.
- Express Your Feelings – Kids wear their feelings all over their face, visible for all to see. You never have to guess as to whether they are happy, sad, angry or indifferent. You know the answer immediately just by looking at them. Adults, on the other hand, conceal their feelings from others, making it much more difficult to read their reaction and determine how they feel. Openly expressing your feelings makes communication easier and maintains sincerity in your life.
- Be Fully Aware of Your Surroundings – The immediate surroundings are a kid’s playground. They explore every facet of their environment down to the finest detail. In doing so they find things an adult would never have seen. You must be fully aware of what’s going on around you in order to take action accurately. Keen awareness is the key to resolving complex problems and innovating new designs.
- Start Everyday with Enthusiasm – Kids hit the ground running every morning with sheer enthusiasm. They don’t resist the idea of starting a new day. They are excited to be alive and absolutely pumped-up for the new experiences that lie ahead. Life is much more rewarding and enjoyable when you quit resisting it. No day will ever be exactly like today. Don’t waste it.
- Ask Lots of Questions – Why…? How…? Are we there yet? When kids are not involved in an activity, they are asking an endless series of questions. Not every question will get an answer, but many will, and this is probably the second best source learning outside of firsthand experience. We should never refrain from asking questions. You’ll never get an answer to a question you never ask.
- Be Honest and Call It Like It Is – As I stated earlier, kids don’t hide their feelings, they are honest to a fall. They call every shot just like they see it, the moment it happens. Open honesty in conjunction with clear communication builds strong character and healthy relationships with others. People will listen to you if they trust that you are speaking honestly.
- Pursue Your Curiosity – Kids are driven by curiosity, constantly in pursuit of the unknown. Curiosity guides their education and influences their path forward. Following our curiosity expands our horizons and often leads us to brilliant personal discoveries.
- Enjoy Life’s Simple Pleasures – Kids don’t need a bunch of best selling toys in order to enjoy themselves. Put a kid in a puddle and watch him cheerfully splash around. Give a kid permission to chase the cat around the house for a couple minutes, the giggles will be contagious. Or just tickle a kid until he is beet red from laughter. All of these are simple pleasures that children love to partake in. It should serve as a reminder that some of the best things in life are free.
- Nurture and Value Your Relationships – There are few things kids love more than hanging out with their friends. If it were up to them, they would never leave their friends’ side. Kids admire, respect, and trust their friends unconditionally. They look forward to their arrival and miss them when they’re gone. Healthy personal relationships are one of the keys to happiness. Sure, life gets busier as we get older, but we should never let our busy schedules keep us from the people we care about most.