We often get our guiding principles in life from someone older than us because they have gone through a series of trials and challenges in life that they know how to live life to the fullest. I embraced this perception, but as I spend more time with my 10-year old daughter, who is now in fourth grade, I begin to realize that if you want to make life more fun in spite of the obstacles along the way, you should also learn valuable lessons from children.
What can a fourth grader teach an adult, when all they do is go to school and play? I myself am surprised and a bit ashamed when I realize that my daughter is on point.
Every time she arrives home from school, I would like to know how her day went. She does not want to discuss her activities in vivid details. She hates it. She would rather share her happy moments voluntarily. My daughter was once a victim of school bullying, which is why I want to make sure that everything is going well with her. She is an only child and a bit of a loner.
There are only three of us at home and my husband and I have been her only companion. We thought she was too dependent on us but we were wrong. I have been too hard on myself lately but these are the lessons I learned from my daughter, that changed my mindset:
In every game, it is not always about winning but having fun.
My daughter loves to join any type of literary contest ( poem recitation, declamation, character impersonation etc) and while she does not always emerge victorious, she never stops. This year, she decided to join again as a character impersonator. We practiced and I have to admit, I put pressure on her. In my mind, I wanted her to win, but she just wanted to have fun. I could tell. Literary fest came and I felt nervous when it was her turn to deliver her piece. She was calm and there was no trace of nervousness.
She came in third and I asked if she was okay. There was no sign of defeat. She just told me that she wanted to be Mary Poppins next time. Instead of me comforting her, she was the one who comforted me. I felt guilty. It was not the first time that she joined the competition and lost, but it was not a big deal for her, not because she does not take the competition seriously but because she knows how to enjoy the game. There are instances when we see life as a game where we have to compete to win, but taking life too seriously results in missing out the best things in life. Life is short. Do not forget to have fun every once in a while.
Your advice may not matter, but your actions do.
One of the common misconceptions of raising an only child is spoiling them with material things and not giving them any sense of responsibility. In our case, this is not true. As a parent, I would like to see my daughter become independent and self-reliant. However, there are instances when I fail to practice what I preach and while this does not seem to matter to me, it does matter to my daughter.
One time, I told my daughter to clean her room, but everyday I keep on repeating the same instructions because she does not seem to follow them. I asked her why she was not following and she told me that my room was a complete mess. It was cluttered up with all sorts of mess. It was a busy week for me and cleaning the room slipped my mind, but it was not a good excuse or reason if you want to teach your child to be responsible. I wanted to reprimand her, but I realized she had a point.
How can we let our kids do the right thing if we are not setting a good example? If they blindly obey without knowing the purpose of obeying, they will never know consequences of their actions. No matter how busy I am, I see to it that I clean the room because my daughter is very observant and actions really speak louder than words. She now know how to fix her bed and put her toys away once she is done playing. I don’t have to repeat the same instruction to make her follow and I am also very careful with my actions.
When you dream, dream big.
I am a dreamer, but I choose to stay within my comfort zone. My daughter is an optimist. She likes adventures and she never stops dreaming big. We had a conversation about her ambitions in life. She was asking me if it was possible to take multiple courses and while I said yes, I was thinking that maybe what she meant was taking a post graduate course.
She told me she wanted to be a chemist, pharmacist, geologist and psychologist someday. She likes science and I thought that her fascination in science is temporary, but I may have underestimated her. She likes challenges. She wants to explore what life has to offer. When she told me she wanted to take multiple courses, I did not argue. She believes in herself, why shouldn’t I?
“Thank You” are still magic words.
When was the last time you appreciate life’s simple pleasures? Do you only focus on things that have monetary equivalent? Have you set aside the best things in life that are free? I may be busy most of the time, but I always see to it that I have time for my family. There was only a few hours left before my daughter arrives from school and I thought about baking a delicious bread pudding for her. I greeted her at the door and she was excited to announce that she got a perfect score in Math.
I hugged her as a way of appreciating her efforts and I told her I have a surprise for her. She asked what the surprise was for. I just said, for being a good girl. I led her to the kitchen and she knew I baked something for her. She grabbed a slice of bread pudding and took a tiny bite. She kissed and thank me, telling me how she appreciate what I made for her. It was heart-warming. Although it is very natural for my daughter to say “thank you” whenever we do or give something for her, I just love how appreciative she is of our efforts.
She appreciates small or big things we do for her. She reminds us how much she loves and appreciates us. This is just a reminder that we should be thankful for everything we receive. We do not necessarily have to possess expensive things to appreciate what we have because there is so much to be thankful for.
Why we need to listen to our children?
As adults, our children look up to us as their first role models. Due to our experiences in life, we often find ourselves imparting some words of wisdom that will help them build a strong foundation for their future. If you we often spend most of our time at work, we also miss the opportunity to get to know our children on a personal level.
Why don’t we take some time to know them by talking to them? As we listen to their own insights, we will come to realize that there are things we need not complicate. Children are like sponge and they have the ability to absorb either bad or good. Our roles as parents is to guide them so they do not take the wrong direction.
I learn a lot from my daughter. The lessons I have learned from her remind me of the things that I often fail to see because of being too absorbed with too may things. Children have this wide-eyed innocence that can shrug things off and just make life as enjoyable as possible. I always toy with the idea of going back to my childhood years when I did not care much about problems.
Whenever life gets tough, it is okay to get strength from your children. After all, they are our source of strength when things go wrong or when we feel like giving up. My daughter always reminds me to be strong. She may not say it, but I can feel how she provides strength when I feel weak.
When your children have something to say, listen. These words can turn into another guiding principle to live by. Never shut them out because you will be denying them of the freedom to express themselves.
Allow them to explore and ask questions. Do not limit them from searching for the right answers. I used to impose that winning is everything, but I gave that up when I see my daughter enjoying every minute being involved in a game. She’s only ten, but the lessons I have learned really help me become a better person.
By Krish A. – Staff Writer