Learning From Our Kids

Watching my 16-month old son is more entertainment (and education) than anyone could ever want. I'm constantly blown away by how the little things he's fascinated by, I generally take for granted.

Besides sports, cars, birds, planes and the ocean waves, my son’s other favorite nuances have only recently given me a stark slap of reality and the sudden realization of how ‘perfect’ we are as babies and toddlers...and yet, we as human beings simply throw it all away as we age.

Posture: Watch a toddler stand or sit...most of the time, they do it with a straight back and seemingly effortless stance. Now, watch the line of adults standing in a queue at the bank, DMV or airport lounge. Quite a difference isn’t it! But why? How can we lose the ‘skills’ we’re born with so quickly?

Lifting: Most toddlers have this weird built-in awareness mechanism that prompts them to know how to lift an object off the floor easily and without damaging their joints...starting with the knees and NOT the back. Millions of people worldwide need to be aware of this before they do unnecessary damage to their lower backs

Learning: You’re never too old to learn. At the ripe old age of 31, I’ve realized that despite my own stubborn nature...I’m still learning new things on a daily basis. The sheer pace and wide range of skills, words and gestures that my son is learning may be normal for a kid his age...but for adults, it’s nearly impossible. He already understands both English (the language which I speak to him in) and Portuguese (the language which my wife speaks to him in)...and yet, he can still learn another four or five languages at his age. Why? Toddlers’ brains are more fascinating than those of even the most intelligent adults. Toddlers don’t have any pre-conceived notions or self-generated hurdles that prevent them from forming opinions or questions about who/what/where/how/when/why...

It’s always good to ask these questions but when it comes to learning something new...it’s best to simply open your mind to it and embrace it with minimum fuss and stress. A great way to experiment this is to try throwing a ball or writing with your less-dominant arm/hand. By visualizing the movement/action with your dominant hand and carrying this through via some practice strokes with your less dominant hand, you’ll surprise yourself at how quickly you can become ambidextrous.

Explore the world: Some may say it’s a genuine human trait, others may say it’s something that we cannot ignore. When it comes to exploration...I say we’re already doing it as children, so why stop!? Exploration generates knowledge and this knowledge can benefit every aspect of how lives. My son exploring the garden yields new sights, smells, sounds, touches (and unfortunately, some bad tastes too) for him on a daily basis. These experiences will stay with him for life and help paint a picture of the world in which he lives. The same can be applied to us adults. Exploring new territories, cultures, foods, lifestyles and beliefs makes us remember that we share this world with over 7 billion people. Exploration leads to knowledge and this knowledge leads to respect for our fellow man.

Sugar is Evil: A birthday party where too much sugar-laced sweets and drinks were given resulted in a miserable, over-stimulated child that wasn’t the one I was used to. More proof that sugar should be avoided at all costs...from birth to adulthood.

All You Need Is Love: The Beatles summed this up perfectly in their 1967 hit tune. When I get home late, tired and weary from a long busy day, my son’s beaming smile and tight little hug not only take away any stress I was feeling...more importantly, it makes me realize what’s real and what’s really important in life.

These are just some of the things I’ve learnt from my 16-month old son and I thought that I’d share these with you to help you apply them to every day experiences you may encounter on a daily basis.

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