As an early childhood educator, I am regularly a witness to the uninhibited ways that children navigate their world. They are unencumbered by the baggage we adults carry around with us.
The inherent wisdom of children can teach us so much about mindfulness. Here are 10 lessons we can all learn from them.
1. Children naturally live in the present moment.
You will rarely find a 4-year-old ruminating over the past, or fretting too far into the future. Their lives tend to be focused in the here and now, and this is reflected in the absolute attention they give to their activities. Watching a child engaged in their “flow,” whether building with blocks or drawing a picture, is a lesson in living in the present.
2. Children move their bodies without even thinking.
Young children don’t sit still for very long. They instinctually need to move, and they love challenging their bodies in all sorts of ways. Kids are drawn toward physical activity and movement, using their bodies as a way to self-regulate and express themselves.
3. Children use all of their senses with excitement.
Kids get messy. They gravitate toward mud and paint, and smells and textures that enhance their senses. Children are able to fully immerse themselves in their experiences through their sensory activities.
4. Children don't have to think twice about playtime.
In the world of early education, many believe that children learn through play. They are natural explorers, and play opens up the world to them. Even the simplest materials like rocks and sticks can become tools for hours of fun.
5. Children are humanitarians by nature.
Children are kind. They may be developmentally egocentric but at their core, kids want to make others feel happy and included. They seek out community and feel comforted to be part of a group of peers.
6. Children seek out new experiences.
Children see the world through fresh eyes. Everything is new and they embrace this novelty. They don’t get bogged down by expectations of how an experience is “supposed to be.”
7. Children let go easily.
Learning to be a member of a group can be hard. Kids fight over who’s first in line, who ruined the game, who accidentally broke their project, or who hurt their feelings. But children can forgive their offender and move on from the affront very quickly. They don’t carry and grudge. They accept “sorry” and move on. Children want fast resolution to conflicts and invest in the repair.
8. Children express uninhibited joy.
Being amongst children is to experience happiness by osmosis. Their natural state, when they feel supported, is one of unbridled glee. Because children don’t have the sense of self-consciousness that adults do, they are free to express joy and silliness like no one is watching.
9. Children enjoy meditation!
My class began meditating this year and it was remarkable to see how quickly and easily they took to it. They began requesting meditation time on the days it wasn’t even scheduled. Kids need quiet time to settle their bodies and minds, and they crave the time to be able to do it.
10. Children teach us that tomorrow is a new day.
As a teacher, I have witnessed countless melt-downs and abhorrent behavior in kids. Inevitably, the next day, they appear in the classroom with a smile on their face, a cooperative spirit, and a willingness to start over with a clean slate.