What children teach us

We educate and teach our children according to our model. But what if once we turned the tables around and learned from them? Would we benefit from being a little bit more childlike––even at work?

“I want to go to the moon”. “And I’ll be a soccer star”. Children have visions. And mostly they try to proceed somehow even if these dreams seem to be unrealistic. Anyway, they make a difference. They deal with space and astronauts or keep practicing soccer at least for a while. But some remain doing this for a lifetime. We adults only see the obstacles, the ifs and buts. Isn’t there anything that’s been lost and that we can re-learn form children?

First of all it’s their impartiality. Children see the world with different eyes and often more comprehensive. For example, they sometimes draw faces as a combination of front and profile view like Pablo Picasso did. In their paintings they tell complete stories. In a rock or cloud formation or a structure on the wallpaper they identify whole faces or scenes. What would they “read” from an abstract painting?

Their impartiality makes children being digital natives. They cope very easily with the icons and menus of smartphones and tablets even if they still can not read or write. Children see no limits and are not afraid of making mistakes. Not yet. That’s the main reason why they learn faster and more intuitive. Children also constantly ask questions like “why is it colder on the mountain even though it’s closer to the sun?” If we asked us such seemingly simple questions again, how creative would our solutions and explanations be?

Speaking of creativity: children are artists. They constantly invent new things, do handicrafts or paint fictitious things. Items are not only used for what they had been produced for but put in playful new contexts and combined to completely new “products” for which they create purposes in their imagination. Thus, the TV remote control becomes a space ship and the ballpoint pen a torpedo that it fires. The few adults who make the impossible true become celebrated inventors. And by the way: The kids create new words, too. The laptop user is a laptopper and the car wash a “car bath”. Perhaps the most brilliant lyricists are children.

In any case, children are honest. Even strikingly honest and straightforward. “Oh, you have a thick mole” is nothing but a surprised conclusion. Only we take it as an insult. However, when kids tell us something really friendly, we often don’t take it serious. Maybe we simply shift our perceptions too radical when growing to adults.

Perhaps the most important thing we have largely forgotten since our childhood is laughter. Really forgotten? Yes, almost. Scientists have found out that an adult laughs an average of 15 to 20 times a day while a child laughs about 400 times. Guess who is happier?

Laughing more frequently would not only improve our mood and our working environment. It would also increase our power and performance. This, too, is a scientific consensus, not a joke.

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