Sure, toddlers can be perplexing at times (how could they suddenly hate string cheese when they were in love with it yesterday?!), but they're actually quite wise beyond their years. Don't let the pooping and drooling fool you.
I was staring at my daughter the other day while she was meticulously placing bits of cereal into Hello Kitty's mouth, blissfully unaware that I was looking at her, and it dawned on me: Toddlers have it all figured out. Sure, we grownups are in charge, but actually we're the ones who should be listening to them. Well, when it comes to certain things. I don't advise anyone to eat a spoonful of dirt.
Here are 5 life lessons we can all learn from our toddlers.
1. Don't be afraid to speak your mind. Are you the kind of person who doesn't tell the waiter that you asked for no cheese, not extra cheese on your sandwich? Nervous to ask for a raise? You shouldn't be! Toddlers say what they're thinking all the time, and usually it works out in their favor.
Take it from a toddler: I tried to give my daughter crackers the other day and she yelled, "NONONONONO!!!" at me. I took them away. Everyone was happy. I, on the other hand, probably would have begrudgingly ate the crackers, were I given them at a restaurant or friend's house.
2. Live in the moment. Admit it: A lot of the time your brain is somewhere other than where you are. It's one of the great downfalls of adults. We try so hard to be in the moment, but especially when you're a parent, it can be so hard!
Take it from a toddler: My daughter was looking at rocks and sticks the other day on a walk. She liked them. But then a dog walked by and she like it even more. She immediately abandoned the pile of rocks and sticks she had carefully collected and ran toward the dog without even cleaning anything up! No thoughts on the past or future. Just the present for toddlers.
3. Don't hold on to a grudge. It isn't always easy for adults to forgive. Whether a friend makes a salty comment or your boss embarrasses you in a meeting, we harbor! Toddlers on the other hand? Toddlers don't harbor a thing. (Guess it's part of living in the moment.)
Take it from a toddler: Remember when my daughter essentially wanted to have me beheaded for serving her crackers? A second later she was fine. In fact, moments after I took the crackers away, she asked me to pick her up -- and when I did, she gave me an unsolicited kiss! If only we could all be so forgiving! (Though, for the record, I really don't think I did anything wrong.)
4. Don't worry so much about appearances. I bet every time you use your office bathroom, you check yourself out. You see what your hair's up to; if there's anything in your teeth. It can get exhausting! Toddlers? They couldn't care less what they look like. As long as they're having fun, fun, fun!
Take it from a toddler: Um, look at any toddler who's out at a restaurant or park. They're getting filthy and love it.
5. Be open-minded. The older we get, the more set in our ways we get. We keep to ourselves; mind our business; stay in our rigid routines. That kind of behavior doesn't fly with toddlers. If they're out and they feel like talking to someone or touching something, they do just that!
Take it from a toddler: Pretty much every time we're at a restaurant, my daughter tries to "share" her food with random kids walking by. I guess she thinks it's an ice breaker. Typically, the kids keep walking, but hey, the girl's not giving up and I like that in her! She also ate a bunch of strawberries off of a random girl's plate at a party this weekend, and the girl was totally cool with it. Try it at your next party. Okay, maybe don't.
What have you learned from your children?
Image via Nicole Fabian-Weber
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