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How Children Mentor Me: The 6 Ways


Lessons can be found within everyone.
Children are a double-edged sword.
On one hand, they can be demanding, annoying and downright loud. I speak this from having experience. I was a passenger on the same plane. We all know that feeling.
On the other, you can watch them grow. You can watch them learn the world, and make decisions on their own. It must be a satisfying feeling to see one of your own growing to become a full-fledged adult.

I don’t have kids of my own, but I would imagine that seeing your kid grow is untold happiness in itself. Maybe. No parents have told me that yet. I think they are too busy loving their own kids. I love you, Mom and Dad.
Getting back on track, it’s a new chapter in your life once you have kids. It may be even earlier once you teach them.
We might have lost ourselves growing up. It’s similar to the movie ‘Hook’ starring Robin Williams, where we may change for the worse growing up. It doesn’t have to be that way.
What I’ve observed from talking to cousins whose nephews/nieces are so adorable, and to past teachers of mine, was that there were minute changes in their personality.
Their proximity to these children was a factor, seeing as how these kids’ lives depend on theirs. We can learn from that experience too.
Here are a few things children can teach us:

They can teach us curiosity again.

Have you ever seen the wonder in a child’s eyes? They don’t know much. They’re still learning.
It is because they don’t know much, that they don’t stop asking questions.
Why this? Why is this wrong? How do I get that toy? What is this? Can I eat this?
We know this first-hand. Most of the answers are obvious to us because we have already grown up. They’re on the way there. Their satisfaction then comes from finding out more for the sake of it.
Children are like mini-Socrates if you will (Socrateses? Socrates Jr.?). They ask to understand. They annoy us with questions. They have this bug in their mind, that will only go away once they have enough answers.
They never do. It’s a dilemma: They ask. We answer. They ask again. 6 hours later, we’re all out. They still ask.
Children have that spark in their eyes that makes them want to know more. That, we can learn from them.
We have more resources as we grow older. Why don’t we use them to answer more questions? Half the time, we are content where we are currently. Job security, a house, friends who you can hang out with on a Friday night for drinks.
Those questions still don’t have answers. What if you took painting? What if you start an acting career? What if you dropped everything, traveled the world and wrote it all down for others to see?
They still don’t have answers. You have to look for them.
Will you? Are you curious enough to look?

Kids can teach us creativity again.

Take a pen: How many uses can you think of with this pen?
For most of us, it’s writing, writing, writing. We can write documents, write books, write our signatures, etc.
That sounds boring. Let’s be more creative.
A child can take out the ink and use it as paint. He would use the lid to block his nose if he has a cold (don’t try this at home kids!). She would use it to poke holes in colored paper for papercraft.
Children see the world from as many angles as possible.
Of course, we do too. But, there’s always that one problem we have to solve: Life.
There are myriad ways of looking at it: Looking forward, step-by-step, the end-goal first, in reverse; all the different ways exist. When we’ve grown up,  we become accustomed to looking at the world in a certain perspective.
But kids? No. They’ll look at all of it. They are explorers at heart.
There are no standards. Everything is accepted. It’s like a sandbox, and you’re in charge of your own sandcastle.
Get creative. Build your own castle.

Kids can teach us about bravery.

Quit your job.
You wouldn’t do it. Not immediately, that is. It may have been a lingering thought in your mind.
You might have a teaspoon of curiosity and an ounce of creativity. Are you brave enough to mix it all together?
Nothing will get done unless you take the first step.

The first step is bravery. The next, progress.

For children, they take these steps every second of their lives, until they grow up. Fear does not stop them.
As we grow up though, the lessons that we take with us give the added advantage of calculating risk. It means that we become more likely to say ‘No’ due to past experiences.
If we were children, however, we believe that there is nothing to lose, so we take the first step.
Experiences don’t hinder us from experiencing more. The children won’t know this, yet they know no other way.
It’s a strange cycle. The hardening of molds breeds comfort. As our molds harden, we sit down and relax. We fit perfectly in our shells. We can live until old age this way. You don’t have to know anything outside of your shell to survive: Bravery isn’t needed.
But, the beauty of life is in its perils: we spend our entire lives seeking shelter from the storm. We enter uninitiated and come out as veterans. Yet the seas call us once again: we can only build ourselves by finding another.
So get into it. Start.

Children can teach us how to adapt.

You might have realized that I touch on growing up over and over again. So, how do kids grow up?
For people, the moments when they were children are when their mold is most liquid: it is the fastest growth phase. This is when they have all these experiences mixing with their mold.
They’ll take anything. They learn. They try again. They adapt.
We should learn that. Maybe we already know this, we’ve had more life experience than these little boys and girls after all.
What about when everything is against you? When all hope is lost and you don’t know what to do? When there is no guidance?
You adapt. You accept that it happened, you take everything in. You breathe. You break your mold, change it for the better.
You lift your head up again. You crawl. You learn how to walk again.
Adapt. Take the first step. The next is progress, and the rest is history.

They remind us to reflect on ourselves.

Not all is fine and dandy for these young explorers though. Kids make mistakes too. They are the same as us in that regard.
They have moments when they realise these mistakes, and from there, class is in session. The lessons start. They reflect. We have to reflect too.  Self-reflection applies for all ages.
We have never left the classroom. The environment just looks different, and the teachers change.
Observe them. What did they do wrong? What did they do to improve themselves over time? Have they received adequate support? What would you do in their shoes? We could have done the same at that age, in that situation.
It makes you wonder too. They taught us to appreciate how far we have come.
Always self-reflect. You need it regularly. You need to remind yourself not to stray too far away from where you want to go.

We can learn how to be selfish.

“I get what I want!”, is a phrase most kids abide by.
That selfishness is something we have less of once we face reality. We can’t have everything, but life gives us things to deal with anyway: commitments to work, relationships taken for granted, dreams that stay as dreams.
When we grow up, there is no fire left in our hearts.
When we were growing up, we had a goal: to have fun.
Kids just want to see the world and belong. Why can’t we be more like them?
We just want to have fun again. Sure, the definition of fun changes as we grow older, as more responsibilities come in different shapes and sizes. Once we become sure of our calling though, we can have fun again. We can be selfish.
“I want to be an actor!” “I want to be an astronaut!” “I want to inspire others to write!”
Let’s be selfish again. Let’s care about our own happiness. Let’s just have fun.
Remember that burning sensation when you were a kid, wanting to know what the world felt like?
Now that you’ve grown up and know that feeling, reflect on yourself again. Ask yourself:
“What am I curious about now? What would excite me? What can I learn about? What can I do now?”

Keep the fire in your heart blazing. Cherish the flames, channel it into every moment you experience. Your passion is proof that you are alive.

The children of this world can teach us too.