We’re so schooled in the way of being an adult sometimes that we forget that we can learn much from the behaviour of children. One is often in such a hurry to grow up that we forget childlike simplicity that we experienced when young and allow the ways of the world to make us all cynical and ‘mature’. Just watching the children in the villages and in school play brings me back to simpler times when right was right, wrong was wrong and everything either had a distinct purpose or was interesting in some strange way.
While I’m not advocating that everyone becomes naïve savants in our dealing with people, I do think that we’ve got a lot to learn from the very children we purport to teach. Children bring with them a certain simplicity of thought and sense of wonder that allows them to marvel at all things around them without second-guessing what they’re doing or being cynical about things that they might have seen before. I’ve seen children playing for hours with a motorcycle tyre or laugh excitedly as they splash through puddles of rainwater. We might frown on some of these activities but sometimes, the simple things allow us to appreciate the good things in life.
Watching the children in an international school play during their breaks reminds me how non-judgemental children tend to be. Everyone is the same on the field and ethnicity and religion are no barrier to who gets caught out in a game of tag or who gets the ball. This may happen on the adult sports field but the difference is that this is genuine and unforced whereas those on the sports field merely suspend judgement for a short period of time and glimpses of these old prejudices can still be felt.
Children being young and fairly impressionable are often humble in their dealings with others and seek to learn from whatever they do. A child rarely seeks to impose his or her view on others and (for the most part) listens to those that are deemed wiser than they are. This humility that is born of being young in an adult’s world is quite quickly lost as the child grows older and see him or herself as one of the ‘big people’. The need to defer and listen doesn’t seem as vital any longer and out goes the childlike humility. Growing up does not mean losing the virtues we possessed as a child.
One other thing that children do well in is trust. Though this trust can sometimes be misplaced and exploited, a childlike trust that stems in part from the sense of humility can help a child to progress far if this trust is well placed. This is a far cry from the suspicious cynical adults that most of us have become and we would do well to take a leaf out of the behaviour of children in this regard. Being able to trust would allow us to concentrate on things that really matter and would also lessen one’s worries as we don’t always have to rely solely on ourselves.
Losing the sense of childlike wonder and all the virtues associated with it when we grow up is indeed a bit of a loss but I’d say all is not lost. As odd as it may seem to others, recovering the sense of being childlike, trusting others when we have to and being humble and accepting the wise words of others can go far in helping us to become better people. It’s within our power to do so: why not let go of that adult conceit and become like what we were before?
Bit more on where this little piece came from here (bottom of page).