As we grow we think we get older and wiser, but have you ever considered the possibility that we lose the ingenuity and instincts of our former selves? It’s not just us teaching our children things, they can teach us an awful lot too. Let’s have a look at the wonderful world of toddlerhood and see if our little ones can’t teach us a thing or two about life…
Children enjoy themselves because they are in the present
Say “No” to the things you don’t want
Two year olds take great delight in using this word, often with great confidence.
As adults we find it difficult to say “No” and end up doing things we really don’t want to do – knowing what you want and feeling able to say “No” is really powerful.
Being outside is fun
Toddlers love being outdoors, on walks, in the park, seeing new things and being out and about. Being outdoors is good for us too, it is healthy and fun.
Spending time outside can improve your outlook, improve your focus and even lower feelings of stress. It can be a real mood-booster – according to a study published in Psychological Science, if you can get out to the countryside occasionally, interacting with nature gives your brain a break from everyday overstimulation, which in turn can improve your attention levels.
We all need to dance
Even if you have two left feet, your child will not mind, they will love dancing with you around the house.
As adults, dance can raise your spirits by increasing the endorphins or “feel good chemicals” that lighten your mood. Dancing is also a great way to burn calories (you can burn from 250 to 400 calories in a one hour session) depending on how vigorously you dance.
Toddlers love to dance – they have so much fun, they are not at all self-conscious and, given the chance, have all kinds of wild dance moves to share. While dancing they can be very self-absorbed as lots of things are actually going through their minds. Children enjoy the opportunity to express their emotions.
They learn most readily by experience and by “doing”, and of course learning through fun so dance is a fantastic experience for any two year old.
Personality is much more important than looks
Two year olds don’t care about comparisons or what other people look like. If they are playing with other children they don’t notice differences, once they start playing together differences fade away.
We worry too much about looking silly, saying the wrong thing, what not to wear, bad hair days etc. but who really cares? It is what is on the inside that really matters.
Toddlers laugh at all the wrong moments, chatter away about all kinds of funny things and often have an entire bus full of people in giggles with their loud comments. They have amazing personalities and we love them for this, not for what they are wearing or how they look.
Nap when you’re tired.
Yes it is unrealistic to think we can always nap when we are tired, but really this is just about listening to your body and what it’s telling you.
Eat when you’re hungry.
Don’t starve yourself, it makes you tired and grumpy.
So let’s forget about diets.
Be amazed at everything
Life is exciting for a two year old and every day is a new adventure.
When a two year old wakes up in the morning they cannot wait to get up and start the day – they jump out of bed with enthusiasm to see what new opportunities the day has to offer.
If you spend a day with a toddler it is likely something will make them (and you) laugh. It can be something completely bizarre, but they fall around in fits of laughter. They find joy in small things – we should try to do this too.
Try again and again
Toddlers don’t give up easily.
Dealing with failure over and over again when learning new things is hard but two year olds are actually very good at handling this (even though there may be the odd tantrum). When they are unable to do something new, a few words of encouragement mean they soon pick themselves up and try again.
Toddlers tend to feel it’s OK to cry for a few minutes if they fall, but then get back up and try again. As adults, we also need to do this, and not let the fear of failure stop us trying new things. Toddlers have fantastic confidence and self-belief – if someone else is doing something, then of course they can do it too. They will persevere and really do not see any limitations.
Have you ever had a toddler who really wanted that toy in the supermarket and erupts in a huge temper tantrum, throwing themselves on the floor and refusing to move? We can learn something about commitment from toddlers as once they dig their heels in they don’t give up easily – don’t try throwing a tantrum yourself though!
With busy lives it is easy for us to get side tracked, but in a funny way toddlers can remind us to commit to something and really see it through.
Make friends wherever you go
Make friends wherever you go. Two year olds bond with other children at any time and in any place, the context and setting don’t really matter.
Repetition is not boring
You may find that your toddler wants you to read the same story or play the same music over and over and over again. Toddlers like repetition because they like to know what’s coming next. Toddlers love predictability as it helps them feel secure.
The Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori saw that children are not interested in achieving end results as quickly as possible, but are far more interested in the learning processes. So they will happily repeat activities again and again until they feel satisfied. They will repeat it many times and for no apparent reason, this is known as the “Cycle of Activity”.
Consistency and repetition is also what helps us learn new skills. Practice makes perfect, so whether it is developing a new skill such as learning a new language, taking up golf, or joining a salsa dance class, with lots of practice and repetition our own learning is far more effective.
If you have a toddler in the family now, watch them for a day. Their enjoyment of the simple things in life is really something to which we should aspire.