1. There are infinitely beautiful things all around you.
Have you ever held a child’s hand and walked through the park? Stopped to pick every single dandelion on the path? Watched as a middle schooler made colorful patterns out of crayon shavings? What you can only learn from children is this—there is so much beauty all around you—the little things, the big things, the things so often overlooked.
Being around children is like pulling a mask from your face. Suddenly you’re seeing the world, almost as if for the first time. Everything is so vibrant and playful. Anything can be turned into a toy, a game, a challenge, a treasure. Everything is unquestioningly beautiful.
2. There’s nothing wrong with a little mess.
As we get older, for some reason it becomes more and more important to be clean, to toe the line, to have everything in order and making sense. Dirty hands are a sign of poor hygiene. A broken vasse is something to be punished for. A mess is not to be praised, but to be quickly cleaned.
What children teach us is that dysfunction means learning, chaos means growth, dirt means play, and mess means engagement.
And when we spend time around kids, we start to see that maybe we don’t have to be so uptight. Maybe it’s okay that they’re going to skin their knees or bite their nails after playing in mud. Maybe they’re not going to wash their hands before eating every single time, or shatter that expensive glass dish when throwing a ball in the house. Maybe they’re going to make mistakes, get messy, frustrate you—but maybe it’s healthy for them to learn, to be imperfect, to push your buttons. Because they’re just kids.
And maybe when you take a step back and slow down, you realize you’ve been prioritizing and obsessing over the wrong things. Maybe a mess isn’t the worst thing in the world after all.
3. All you have is right now.
Kids will act like the game they’re playing is the most important in the world, that they so desperately need five more minutes when they’re at a friend’s house, as if they’ll never see them again or they’re going to die if they don’t play one more round of kickball.
Kids take advantage of every single day, every single minute. They squeeze everything dry, trying to do and be and play as much as they possibly can—and this is a lesson we learn from them—that every moment counts. Because we’re not promised forever; all we truly have is right now.
4. You can find entertainment in anything.
Literally anything can be turned into a game, a toy, an attention-holder. Sometimes it’s not about the lights, the music, the latest and greatest—whatever you have is enough. Stop searching for more.
5. Don’t cling too tightly to material things.
Children will teach you that value rest not in physical things, but in emotional—in moments, in memories, in doing rather than what you have. You’ll learn this when a three-year-old breaks your favorite bracelet or your student throws the assignment sheet you spent four hours working on in the trash on his way out. Children—sometimes with sweetness, sometimes with brutal honesty—will show you that what’s really important is not the things but what you do with them. How you show care, how you forgive, how you let go, how you treat others.
6. Love knows no restrictions.
For a child, there is not distinction of race or sex. There are no boundaries on friendships or relationships. There is no fear when it comes to hugging, or playing with someone who make appear or act differently.
Children are not inherently racist or prejudiced. They don’t judge by people’s skin color, sexual orientation, religious or political beliefs, or socioeconomic status. They just love, have fun, and enjoy life with whoever’s around them. And that’s one of the biggest lessons we adults are still learning.
7. It’s okay to rely on others.
Somewhere along the line we’ve told ourselves that asking for help means we’re weak. So we try to do everything alone, shoulder all our pain, take it upon ourselves to fix and make everything perfect and not tell a single soul when we’re struggling. But that’s wrong. And what children will teach us is that it’s okay, it’s healthy to ask for help, to lean on others, to seek support when we’re in over our heads.
8. Forgetting is the healthy part of forgiving.
You can’t hold a grudge against a four-year-old. You can’t be mad forever at a teenager for a lie that they told. Children will show you the power of forgiveness, but most importantly, the healthy part of that forgiveness—forgetting, letting go, and moving on.
Children have a way of putting things in the past. Ever witnessed a two-year-old tantrum in the middle of the grocery store? In time that child will totally move on and be distracted by something else. And that hysteria? In the past.
We have a lot to learn from this—sometimes clinging to the negative, holding onto what’s happened, being upset over what was only holds us back. When we can forget, when we can move on, when we can let go and start over—there we find peace.
9. There is always something to be excited about.
Whether it’s looking forward to recess, soccer practice, the weekend, the upcoming holiday, summer vacation, etc. children always always have something to look forward to or get excited about. And maybe we can learn this from them—how to squeeze every drop out of life, celebrate what’s to come, and find a reason to be happy every single day.