1. An ‘I’m sorry’ goes a long way.
Watch two children fight over a toy. One might freak out or completely break down when the toy is stolen but as soon as it’s returned and an apology is given, playtime returns to normal. Even if the child is too young to completely understand the weight of those three, simple words, they still ease the frustration and life continues forward. Those apologies matter.
2. Tomorrow is a new day.
Children have good days…and crazy, tantrum-throwing, feet-pounding days. Each day is different and depends on so many things. (It’s like that for adults too, though on a lesser, more appropriate scale). But even after a bad day, a child will return the next morning with a smile on his/her face and no recollection of the past. Each day brings new happiness and a new opportunity to start over.
3. Sharing is caring.
We can heal when we share—half of our crackers, half of our train set, half of our dirt piles on the playground. Children know this inherently, though they often struggle (as we still do as adults!) But what kids know, innocently and in their tender ways, is that sharing brings more healing than we can imagine. It brings us together, mends our hearts, and shows us that we are not alone in our struggles and fears. And, of course, it gives us someone to play with.
4. Forgiveness holds power.
Children let go. They don’t hold grudges. They don’t remember past anger or hurt or bitterness towards one another. Instead, they circle back to playing, even playing with ones who’ve stolen their favorite cars or pushed them down on the grass. They know what we seem to forget as adults—forgiveness holds incredible power.
5. Sleep is restorative.
A good nap solves everything. And what a nap can’t solve, a decent night’s sleep most definitely can.
6. A good cry is necessary sometimes.
We all face b.s. Yucky-smelling broccoli that we don’t want to eat, our block tower falling down, grass stains on our knees, or, you know, bills that we can’t pay. However big or small, these problems affect us, drive us crazy, and sometimes make us completely lose our cool. But what children can teach us is the power of a good cry. Letting it out helps us release our pent-up emotions, helps us calm down, and helps us make peace with what we can’t control and the strength to change what we can.
7. Distraction can be positive.
Take a screaming child and show them cars passing by the window and they’ll forget all about what was making them upset. Sometimes a little distraction is all we need to get our mind off things that are bugging us. (Yep, this works for adults too.)
8. Hugs can turn an entire day around.
Children hug everyone. Unsolicited, unrestricted, nondiscriminatory hugs. All the time—happy, sad, mad, or in-between. How much better of a world would we have if we hugged like children do?
9. Snuggles with a loved one are necessary sometimes.
A little kid doesn’t always have the best concept of time, which, of course can drive you crazy sometimes. But it’s wonderful when you slow down with them, snuggle up with them, and live in the moment.
10. There’s no such thing as giving up.
Children don’t know when to quit. When it comes to something they can’t understand or do independently, they will pursue it with all the stamina and skill they have, even if they keep failing over and over again. Sometimes this can be exhausted and frustrating, but their naïve persistence is truly admirable.
11. Moving forward is brave and more than enough.
There will be plenty of times in a child’s life (and adult’s) where they reach a roadblock. Whether something small, like not being able to complete a task, or monumental, like family abuse, they will continue forward. Sometimes this is because they don’t know any better, but often it’s because that’s the only thing they know how to do—move forward into the next day, next moment—which is an inspiring lesson for us adults.
12. Frustration is part of the process.
You will get pissed. From not being able to stack your tower of Legos to driving behind a complete idiot on the highway—frustration is normal. Embrace it.
13. Smiles mean more than one may think.
A smile at the start of every morning is what guides that child’s entire day. Smiling lifts spirits, it changes trains of thought and heals broken hearts.
14. ‘I love yous’ should be shared openly.
Children will openly tell you they love you. Even if you’re not related in any way. You can be the teacher they colored with in the afternoon, the girl they shared marbles with at recess, the crossing guard that held their hand at the street corner—it doesn’t matter, they show love. This is a lesson for all of us that we somehow forget in the transition from kid to big kid: Telling others we love them is important, is restorative, is kind, is healing.