Being Child-Like

Children are my favorite group of people to spend time with.

I love their energy. Their love. Their personalities. The little quips they share they don’t realize are profound and entertaining.

I was thinking about what it is about children I love so much and came up with this list of 8 different characteristics they possess that we somehow manage to lose as we grow into adulthood, but that I think we should consider reverting back to:

  1. Children are quick to forgive. Have you ever noticed how two little friends can get into an argument and then be happily playing together again 2 minutes later?? Children have this amazing capacity to let go of the past. I am in complete awe of this trait they possess. Even children who are severely mistreated or abused by adults in their lives have this innate desire to move forward and share love instead of animosity. Now, I am not condoning the mistreatment of children or diminishing the abuse they suffer. I just want to highlight a child’s capacity to forgive and live their life.
  2. Children love unconditionally. This kind of goes along with the first one of being forgiving. But kids see the best in people. They don’t see your flaws, they don’t look at their Mom and see what she sees when she looks in the mirror at herself. If they have a mother who loves them, they love her back no matter what. This is true with most trusted adults in a child’s life as well.
  3. Everyone is their friend. They say hi to whoever they find on the playground and happily declare themselves “friends” just for being in each other’s company. I love watching my little boys interact with the children around them–they say “hi” to kids in line at the grocery store, at the doctor’s office, in restaurants, and definitely on the playground. One time, my little 4-year-old brought his new friend to say hi to me and when I asked his friend’s name, he didn’t even know! He just knew they were both kids and that was enough for him to declare him his friend.
  4. Children say what they mean. Now, this is not always a good thing, haha! If you’ve ever had a child point out that you have grown out of your favorite pair of jeans, look like you are expecting when you are not, or that a less than desirable physical feature looks “weird”, stick with me for a minute. 🙂 What I mean is that children are honest with their thoughts and feelings. They mean what they say and they say what they mean. They don’t try to sugarcoat information or pretend they are thinking or feeling something they are not to please another person. They are honest even if it is brutal sometimes.
  5. They are eager to learn and curious! If you’ve ever had a 2 or 3-year-old child whose favorite word is “why”, you might not appreciate this trait very much, but I have learned so much from my children’s genuine desire to understand the world around them. And honestly, I have come to realize that many of the reasonings and explanations for my actions in life aren’t congruent with the meaning I give them in my life. Being willing to learn, understand and question the world around you isn’t always a bad thing.
  6. Children see the good in others. This is similar to children’s ability to love unconditionally, but they typically see what is amazing about people before they identify something negative. I know not all adults see people and instantly have negative judgments about them, but I do think it is more common for us as adults to label people based on what we see on the outside. Children see others in an entirely different light. They see kind eyes. A friendly smile. A generous face where we might see dirty/tattered clothes. A mischievous smile. Or a beggar.
  7. Children are open about their thoughts and feelings. Most kids aren’t afraid to tell you if you did something they didn’t like. If they are mad-they yell. If they are sad-they cry. If they’re upset-they will throw a tantrum. If they are not hungry-they will not eat! Simple as that. They don’t try to hide their emotions or explain them away. They don’t sit down and eat a tub of ice cream when they are sad. They just feel their emotions and let them out.
  8. Children honor who they are. This is a summary of all of these characteristics put together. This is something we gradually lose as we get older and recognize that not all of these behaviors are socially appropriate. But, the sad part of that is that we lose the ability to be in tune with ourselves and be honest about who we are and who we want to be.

We learn to ignore our emotions, to be cautious of others, to judge the looks and behaviors of others, and to behave in a way to fit into the “mold” of society.

What if we could refine these childhood characteristics and refine them to be true to ourselves instead of trying to hide them? I believe we can. In fact, I KNOW that when we dig back to our genuine selves, that is when we will find true happiness.

Not because we are looking to “fit in” or please others around us, but because we are looking to take care of who we are, at our core, first and foremost.

This week, take some time to be honest with yourself about how you feel. How you want to behave. Who you want to be and how you are going to show up for yourself.

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