Children have important lessons to teach adults on creativity, education and, perhaps most surprisingly, compassion. I have spent the past four years working with children every day and I can honestly say that I have learned more from them than what I have taught to them.
The other day, I was sitting in the music room of the school where I work, watching 20 plus kids play with toys, the Wii and other random objects around the room. Before long, I noticed that a group of girls had created a game of their own, without any guidance or help. They gathered their books, bags, pencil cases, folders, boxes and chairs to build a fort and within that fort, a stuffed animal seal was placed on a hoodie.
Being the curious person that I am, I walked over and asked what the stuffed animal was doing.
They gave me an interesting answer.
They said, “He was sleeping in an igloo, resting before his journey to the South Pole to save his family from being taken by a fisherman.”
After hearing that response, I laughed at their game and thought nothing of it. A little later, the significance occurred to me.
Wow. These kids took everyday objects scattered about and built an igloo, from which they then created an entire story line. They used pure creativity to make this story and structure.
Many adults could benefit from being around children and observing their thought processes, a more flowing mind state conducive to creating magic from the mundane. Creativity is hard to achieve in adulthood. We try so hard to be creative and to come off as unique, yet it’s easy to forget the necessary building blocks and the inherent fun.
Sometimes, it’s important to take a break, step back and enjoy life. Fun and creativity will result from this more lighthearted way of viewing the world.
Aside from inspiring creativity through their interesting games and ideas, children can also make us see what’s most needed in life: compassion.
Last week, I was playing human pinball in the gym with my kids at work. The game has two opposing sides, with four pins lined up on each side along the blue lines on the floor. The purpose of the game is to throw the foam balls in the center at the opposing side and knock down their pins.
As I was playing, one of my students threw the ball and knocked down a pin, which caused that team’s guard to get upset and start crying for allowing the pin to drop. It’s a normal occurrence for the kids to get upset over a game, but it’s what the ball-thrower did next that caught my attention.
The kindergartner went over to the first grader/guard and gave him a hug. He said he was sorry for knocking the pin over and that there will be another game; there’s no reason to get upset and that he can throw the ball at him to make it even.
This showed me how pure and compassionate children can be, mostly free from the influences of the adult world that values keeping up appearances. This simple act of cheering up another kid contrasted sharply with the hidden sense of compassion among adults. We become so caught up in our own activities and the desire to get ahead in life that we don’t realize when we need to step back and connect with those around us.
Think back to when you were a young kid.
When everything was carefree.
You could go into a room where you knew no one and instantly make friends. I witness this every day. So many kids will come into the room and not know anyone, yet they will go up to a group and start playing with them, instantly becoming friends.
Adults are lacking the ability to outwardly express the need for connection. We are so consumed with our own lives and too afraid to step out of our comfort zones that we may fail to be vulnerable and put ourselves out there. We’re so afraid of being judged or rejected that it’s easy to miss the joys of life.
Children have a way of showing us the simplest things in life, the fundamentals that we sometimes take for granted and forget as we age. We become so consumed with building ourselves into a better person than those around us and creating a career that we think will give us a perfect life.
By looking for the lessons children have to teach us, we might be able to regain compassion, creativity and a heightened love for life.
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