Learn From the Things They Do
The truth hurts, so adults sometimes lie in order to spare someone’s feelings. Kids, however, haven’t fully grasped the concept of cause and effect.
“Kids speak their minds and seldom have hidden agendas. To really be honest like them, you need to overcome your fear of the consequences of telling the truth, be less selfish and remove your ‘need to win’ mentality,” says Clara Tan, founder of Molly Manners Singapore. Kids hardly have any emotional baggage or past experiences to skew their view of the world, Clara points out. “Children are more upfront because they do not overanalyse issues – they see things as they are and say so. They don’t feel a need to hide anything as they embody a simple view of the world,” she adds. “Adults can learn how to speak plainly and simply from them, by trusting that doing so will help build more authentic relationships.”
Adults tend to put up a defensive wall when meeting new people for fear of being rejected, says life coach Joe Lee. Kids, on the other hand, have no expectations when it comes to making friends. He says: “They genuinely seek companionship and, knowing that they won’t be rejected, aren’t afraid to approach new people to strike up a friendship.”
Clara adds: “Kids accept one another regardless of language, religion and the colour of their skin. They make friends while bonding over activities and sharing things about their life. Adults too, should have the same courage to be real with others. We can take risks to open ourselves up to other people.” The key is to live in the moment, as children do. “Kids live only in the present. When they play, they really play. When they cry, they really cry. They don’t hold on to the past and they don’t project a future,” says Joe. So stop fretting about what’s yet to happen – you can’t control what you don’t know. Embrace life in the present, like kids do, and you’ll probably feel happier.
Clara agrees: “Children are generally optimistic – they forgive and forget easily. So live in the moment and let go of your grudges – you’ll be merrier that way.”
It constantly surprises adults how children can move from fighting over a toy one moment to being friends again the next. Once the issue is settled, they don’t dwell on it. “Children don’t put too much meaning into events. A spade is a spade to them,” explains Clara. “On the other hand, adults tend to develop biased viewpoints due to painful experiences. We need to accept life the way it is and not get too emotionally or mentally attached to a life event.” So, see the big picture in everything you do.
Little ones believe they have a right to say no and have no qualms about turning a request down. As adults, we need to stay true to what we want, too, says Clara. “We must value our time and speak up. Saying no will be easier this way.”
Joe feels that the key to saying no without guilt is to stop caring about how the other person may take your rejection. “When you don’t feel like agreeing to a request or if you feel that helping someone may drag you down, just say no – no explanations needed.”
If it’s really difficult for you to deny someone, Joe suggests you practise saying no three times a day, in front of a mirror, to get used to saying it. “Very soon, you’ll be comfortable doing it,” he adds.