They say the first five years of a child's life are the most important for developing and shaping them as the adults they'll become. Like a sponge, they absorb everything around them. Crayons and dirt included. What they don't tell you is some of the unexpected life lessons you will learn will come from your kids.
TO BE PRESENT
My toddler is probably the most 'present' person I've ever hung out with. A toddler will stop what they're doing to listen to the birds and take the time to smell a flower. They might walk at snail's pace when you want them to gallop, but there's a lesson to be had in mindfulness as they take in the world with eyes wide open.
TO SEE HUMOUR IN EVERYTHING WE DO
A two-year-old laughs an average of 18 times an hour in interaction with its mother (seen mum trying to do The Propeller?). A study suggests a child laughs 40 times a day, while the adult laughs only 15 times. While a good old giggle is hard to measure, the point to take away is that laughter breeds happiness.
TO BE KIND AND FORGIVING
A toddler passes zero judgment. Nor do they care about racial, political, religious, sexual or gender stereotypes. In a department store the other day, I held up a blue and a pink top for my daughter to choose. A lady nearby quipped "That should be easy - pink, of course”. She chose the blue.
Toddlers smile and wave to passers-by and will offer their toy or soggy Sao to anyone. That's unless you're mean to them. For toddlers, there are only good or bad people, but most of the time they'll drop a grudge for a hug quick smart.
Babies teach you to delegate and be productive on a scale you never thought was possible.
Toddlers, on the other hand, will teach you the art of negotiation. These tiny terrorists know how to give you a lesson in constructive confrontation. They also like to call meetings at all hours and are schedule-driven.
Don't even think about skipping nap time. Have you seen the Gremlins after midnight?
TO WEAR WHAT YOU WANT
Toddlers don't care what they wear and if they do, there are no restrictions. A friend's boy once insisted on wearing a powder pink cowboy costume for a week because that's what he wanted. He strutted into daycare like it was the runway at Paris Fashion Week.
THE ART OF MINIMALISM
Any parent also knows that too many toys only get in the way of the good ones. Toddlers don't care for material possessions, even if our home still resembles a multi-coloured minefield of plastic and soft toys.
It's our job to help our children navigate their emotions, fuel their curiosity and to hold their hand through life's obstacles. I might have unknowingly taught my one-year-old daughter to bite her fingernails, but she has reminded me that life is just one big adventure.
What has your child taught you? Tell us at firstname.lastname@example.org