July 29, 2008

What We Can Learn from Toddlers

Toddlers are fascinating people, and I think there are some things we can learn from them. Sure, it's probably not a good idea to throw things or bite people when you're mad at them, and having a screaming meltdown probably isn't the best approach to getting something you want, but there's also something refreshing about how good toddlers are at expressing their emotions. Here are just a few of the things I think we can learn from them:

1. Hug. When toddlers meet people, they hug to say hello. Now, they have to be similar size or smaller - too much bigger is too intimidating - and sometimes it takes a minute to size each other up, but when A meets a new infant/toddler or sees one of his friends, he hugs. What a nice way to greet someone.

2. Show empathy. This seems to come so naturally to the little ones. When they see someone struggling, they go to help. When someone else gets hurt or is upset, they give them a hug or tell them it's okay. The other morning, A heard a little girl crying when we got to day care. He went right up to her, gave her a hug, and then kept patting her back, saying "otay, otay....it's otay". I think we all start out with this inclination to comfort those around us.

3. Be helpful. Most toddlers I know have a desire to help. A loves helping me unload the dishwasher, put items in the recycling bin, or put clothes in the washer. Let's see how long we can hold onto this trait.

4. Express your feelings. Okay, so toddlers may not have all the words to express themselves verbally, but they sure are clear about what they want and what they don't want! They have strong opinions, and they share them. How great is that?
5. Be Adventurous. Toddlers haven't learned boundaries yet, so they color outside the lines, they sing and dance with abandon, they run around naked without inhibitions. Boundaries are good, of course, but I think we could all hold on to a little recklessness.

*He's not throwing things in this picture (I don't get those moments on film), but he most definitely loves knocking things down.

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