The Top 5 Things Children Teach Parents

10th June 2016
Father and son on jetty

Having children is life changing; all of a sudden we have the ultimate responsibility of looking after a small person without an instruction manual. There is endless conflicting advice and whilst there are triumphs, mistakes are also made along the way. Even though the parent is raising the child and teaching them how to do things for themselves, the child also plays a role in teaching the parent new things. Children present different situations that help parents learn how to handle effectively. Young children between the ages of 0 and 6 develop rapidly as they learn a lot about human behaviour. They are taught what gives us rewards, what give us attention, language patterns, morals and belief systems. As parents we have already been through that stage as a child which has influenced the way we parent. Becoming a parent forces any inner-child issues to be addressed and we can break those patterns to learn how to be a parent. Here are the top 5 things that children teach their parents.

1. Patience

As children are developing and learning new things it forces us as parents to be patient and allow them to grow. As behaviours are learnt, they experiment with a variety of them to test our tolerance. However, it’s important to take a step back and acknowledge that at the end of the day they are just being children. There is no doubt that we love our children and we want what’s best for them and questioning and evaluating the situation helps us to develop our patience. With so much emotion involved it teaches us that we are the parent and need to have strategies in place to deal with the situation in a neutral way.

When a child is crying and throwing a tantrum as a parent it can be quite stressful. However, showing this stress through shouting and essentially mimicking the behaviour of the child will make the situation worse. Reacting calmly to address the situation gets a better response from the child. We are teaching the children the correct behaviours whilst they are teaching us the right behaviours to deal with their issues. This allows us to analyse what other factors are affecting our children, for example, they may be tired or hungry. Getting to the source of the problem rather than getting frustrated has a better outcome for both parent and child. We may think we are teaching them but they are teaching us how to develop new patterns and tools of patience and control. We are forced to read the situation and behave accordingly otherwise we will end up with an out of control child on our hands all the time which isn’t fun for either party.

2. Living in the Moment

As adults we can find ourselves deliberating about the past, or worrying about the future. This leaves very little time to focus on the present and just live in the moment. Our children are free from the stress and pressures that we as parents face. This allows them to simply enjoy every moment without any worries. It’s captivating observing a child and it becomes contagious to simply be in the moment and let go of everything else. Looking after our children requires our attention to make sure they are safe and out of danger. In this way our children teach us to just think about the present, as they like to keep us on our toes. From the moment they are born there is an overwhelming feeling to protect them and this responsibility keeps us grounded in the moment. Looking at life through a child’s eyes reminds us that there is more than bills, works and all the other pressures that come with being a grown up. We don’t want to impress these adult issues on our children and it’s our duty to protect their innocence for as long as possible. Seeing our children living in the moment can cause us to question what we do with our own time. Ultimately they teach us to be open-minded and live in the moment regardless of what has happened in the past or what could happen in the future.

3. Keeping It Real

As adults we have a tendency to complicate everything and over analyse things too much. Children on the other hand see things very clearly and have no filter so they say it as they see it. For example, they might point out an overweight person as being big. As adults we find this highly embarrassing for the person and also for ourselves. We will question how that person perceives what our child has just said and worry that offence has been caused. A child sees it very clearly that the person is big and they are trying out their learned communication skills. Children aren’t born with preconceived ideas of people and are accepting of them regardless of looks, race, age or gender. This teaches us to accept ourselves and other people regardless of differences.

Children also see things that we might not and find beauty in everyday things that we have come accustomed to take for granted. Something like clouds in the sky can be a source of wonder for children. They can use their vivid imaginations to think of different things the clouds look like. This takes us from not giving clouds a second thought, to exploring them with our child. They are very observant and watch us closely all day long. If we are stressed or show any bad behaviours these will quickly be pointed out by our children. This encourages us to be good role models for our children and change our behaviour.

4. Non-verbal Interpretation

We are used to being able to speak to people to find out information or to find out how others are feeling. As our children learn verbal skills we become more attuned to their non-verbal communication. We learn what they want through closely observing their body language, tones and facial expressions because if they are upset we inevitably want to make them happy. This forces us to look at these signs from other people in our lives and can help us become more accustomed to how they are feeling. This greatly benefits our relationships as we can ensure we are more observant when someone close to us is giving subtle indicators as to how they are feeling. Learning about body language has taught us that a person with their arms folded is creating a barrier and is closing themselves off. However, raising a child teaches us that there are a number of reasons this person has adopted this position including feeling cold or it may just be a position that makes them feel comfortable. This teaches us to look at body language in a simpler way rather than over analysing their actions.

5. More Effective Communication

Communication is the key to successful relationships. A significant lesson we learn from children is not to overcomplicate how we speak. Asking straightforward questions can lead to getting the answers you want. They teach us how to approach people if we need them to do something for us and how to effectively achieve this. They challenge the way we use words because how they are used influences the outcome. Learning these skills helps us as parents but also in our relationships and jobs. Anyone we come into contact with, we can develop a rapport with them, seek the right answers and communicate our feelings without having them misconstrued. Becoming a parent is a learning process for both adult and child and it’s through this process that both party’s grow and develop. If you were to tell your child what to do all the time this would lead to the building up of aggression and rebellion towards anything you have to say. By learning how to communicate with our children we discover how to talk to them for better outcomes. This can also be applied to anyone we speak to in our everyday lives.

When we become parents it is often thought that we are raising our children. However, whilst we have a duty to nurture and teach our children they can also teach us some valuable lessons. Having a child takes us back to our childhood and away from all the societal pressures giving us a simpler take on life. Consider when you are around your child or someone else’s child, if you are not the only one teacher in the scenario. See if you can learn more from the situation than what you are actually teaching.

Giovanni LordiAuthored by Giovanni Lordi

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