Your son's latest temper tantrum may seem like a punishment inflicted on you by an unfeeling cosmos, but part of you still has to admire the kid's style. When he wants something, he wants it wholeheartedly. When's the last time you felt that passionate about anything?
Although it's probably a good idea to lose the kicking and screaming, you can learn some important lessons from the focused commitment your son's exhibiting, even if it's directed at blackmailing you into offering him a pre-dinner cookie. Kids have a lot to learn, but even at a young age, they also have some useful habits that will serve them well in adulthood -- if they can manage to hold onto them. Let's take a look at 10 kid-centric traits that every grown-up should have in his bag of tricks.
Kids may fight going to sleep, but once they drift off, they sleep like they mean it. If you wake up every time the clock strikes the hour, take a hint from your kids, and make sleep a priority. The U. S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that between 50 and 70 million Americans are sleep-deprived. The average adult needs between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a night. If you aren't getting your full share, consider making the following changes:
- Implement a nighttime ritual that will condition you for bedtime: write a list of the day's accomplishments, read a book, take a bath or meditate.
- Turn off your electronic gadgets. Say goodnight to the television, computer, sound system, radio and any other device that's supplying background interference.
- Turn out the lights. The dark and quiet will help you drift off.
- Reduce the amount of caffeine you drink, and limit your consumption to the morning hours.
- Eat a few sleep-inducing foods a few hours before bedtime. Try bananas, almonds, milk, hard-boiled eggs or cherries.
Feeling deep affection, faith and trust can give life new meaning. The next time you're reluctant to take an emotional gamble, look at a small child and reconsider. For children, unconditional love comes naturally. For adults, it takes some effort. When loving unconditionally works, though, it's the greatest feeling in the world. People in committed relationships live longer. They also report being happier and more fulfilled. Love can seem like an unrewarding obstacle course sometimes, but making it through to the other side has big benefits.
If you watch a young child trying to walk or learn to ride a bike, you can see the resolve, grit and fortitude he brings to the task. Kids can be uber-determined to do what they set their minds to. When the task is to draw a mural in crayon all over the living room walls, it can be incredibly annoying, but that chubby, crayon smudged fist is empowered with a purposefulness that even a seasoned CEO would envy. Growing up can derail some of the focused determination we start out with as children. Imagine what you could accomplish today if you had the unswerving single-mindedness of a child.
Your daughter can watch the same animated movie again and again and again. She can probably tell you what characters are in every scene, recite the dialogue and sing all the songs. No doubt she can explain the plot in exhaustive detail -- and probably has on more than one occasion. If you could marshal as much enthusiasm and passion for some of your own pursuits, you'd be able to get a lot accomplished. How long have you been putting off that fun craft project? We all have interests, but kids make their interests matter. Yes, they have the time. But they also have a couple of things that are even more important -- passionate attention and energetic enthusiasm.
Exercising for the Joy of It
While you're jogging through the local park with your beloved but paunchy pooch, consider the way your kids jump, run, roll around and burn zillions of calories. They use whatever props are at hand to create imaginary worlds and exercise their way to stronger, more agile and healthier bodies. Instead of the stupor-inducing exercises adults think of as essential for a toned core and gravity-defying backside, kids make exercise fun. Find physical activities that pique your interest as well as your heart rate. One of the best ways to establish and sustain an effective exercise regimen is to find a physical activity you actually enjoy. That way, you'll be more likely to stick with it for the long haul.
Laughing Out Loud
Whether you giggle or guffaw, laughter is good for you. Tickle your kids often, and indulge in more than a few chuckles, chortles and cackles while you're doing it. Laughter reduces stress, boosts your immune system and prompts the release of those feel good chemicals -- endorphins. Children love to laugh, and their laughter can teach you something important. It's hard to stay mad, discouraged or unhappy when you're laughing. We dare you to try. The next time you start feeling depressed, laugh -- it's an antidote for the blues.
Indulging in Flights of Fancy
Kids have great imaginations. If you've ever envisioned yourself accepting an Academy Award, walking on the moon or going on a date with the hunk of the month, you know that there's something very liberating about indulging in the occasional fantasy break. Reality can be very real sometimes, and taking 10 minutes to star in your own un-reality show is a nice way to experience a mini vacation from the problems of the day. It's also nonfattening and absolutely free.
Seeing with New Eyes
How many times have your children pointed out something obvious that you hadn't noticed before? Kids have an uncanny ability to see things in new ways. That alligator mailbox on the way to the grocery store or the tree stump shaped like a walrus in your neighbor's yard would have escaped your notice if it weren't for your sharp-eyed kids.
Children are observant of the most amazing things: a bird's nest, shapes in tree shadows, and the occasional late moonset that leaves a fading crescent to accompany you both on the ride to school. Being able to see things the way a child does, with delight and wonderment, is a rare gift, and one worth emulating.
A Willingness to Experiment
Young children love to explore and experiment. If they can't eat something, then they'll try to break it. If it won't break open, then maybe it'll flush down the toilet. Life becomes a series of entertaining and informative explorations into the unknown. If you hadn't been an intrepid child explorer yourself once, you'd never have learned that fire is hot. You'd never have discovered that all dogs aren't friendly or that turnips aren't nearly as fun as they sound.
Experimentation is good. It helps map the frontier. It makes the world more knowable, more interesting and more immediate. Break out of your rut and experiment a little. Learning new things will help your brain stay active and healthy into old age. Kids learn important things by experimenting, and so can you. Just because you've reached your prime doesn't mean you know it all.
Living in the Moment
Have you ever wondered why time seems to pass more quickly as you get older? David Eagleman, a neuroscientist at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas, believes that childhood memories create the illusion of stretching time because they're so rich in detail. The more intense the memory, the more time seems protracted when you look back on it. The flip side of that notion is that the more cursory a memory happens to be, the faster the experience of it will feel.
How many times have you driven to work without remembering much of the ride because your mind was on something else? Experiencing a richer existence may be as easy as finding ways to live in the moment instead of zoning out. For kids, there's no cruise control on life. If you want the full measure for all your days, slow down and pay closer attention to the little things. When you find your mind wandering, change your focus. Remain in the here and now. This is where the action is.
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