Children are great teachers. Have you heard this before? I like exploring such general statements and seeing how much truth they hold in my life. As with many other revelations, I found that accepting this message without analyzing its applicability can be harmful to my self-esteem. Why? Because I would like to live up to this expectation and in fact I do not. There are countless opportunities when I do not learn from my children even though they’re eager to teach me.

The best teachers are our own children. True, if we have the patience and the awareness, we can integrate their teachings for our personal development. It’s easier said than done: my eight-year experience tinctures this wisdom from having a teacher living with me with the capability of pointing out my weakest point any time of the day. Sometimes I’m just an exhausted, lazy fellow who despises change (let alone development) of any sort and would just want to be left alone. There are no plans for a successful business, for preparing a gluten-free cake I saw a picture of on Instagram or for doing a yoga pose perfectly—I just want to sit down and watch a blockbuster for the sole purpose of entertainment. These are the times when the teachings of my children are not well received, or even noticed.

Children reflect back to us all aspects of our lives: moments of success and joy together with our mistakes, inconsistencies and our moments that should not have been seen by anyone. But they are around, and see us then, too. The moment you hear your kid say one of your regularly said sentences (the one you’re not particularly proud of) is tough to face. Or seeing when my son is teaching something to her little sister copying our teaching methodology: instructing instead of letting trial and error lead the learning cycle.

Every day offers a new feedback that could be used for my personal development, but the opportunity is missed most of the time. Their reflections point out the dark side of my personality and more often than not I’m not prepared to face that. Teachers who are hunting for my mistakes (at least the concept I developed of their reflections of my deficiencies), are not welcome in my life.

So where is the truth in children being great teachers? I needed to do some rephrasing to arrive at a solution I could accept (and later a conclusion I’m at peace with).

I decided to free myself from the weight of this sentence and change it for my taste: my children set great examples to follow. I like this sentence because it has freedom of choice incorporated—I can decide whether I choose to follow their example or not (even if it is a great example). And in this case all my deficiencies are off the table.

Here’s my list of the exemplary qualities they portray:

» Magical thinking – my daughter is a master of coming up with wondrous stories at any given time of anything from invisible shops to enchanting grandma.

» There’s no procrastination in their lives. If they want to do something, they do it.

» Worry is absent from their days (it’s operated by an external unit called “mom”).

» They have no inhibition to say what they think.

» Their sensors are super sensitive—they often notice and mention the change in the tone of my voice or surprise me with a hug or kiss when most needed.

» Curiosity is the number one attribute they possess. The depth of their asking “why” could be a model for a university class.

» They encounter daily many new, never seen things in their lives—and they persistently ask, try out, practice and do not mind failing. They get up, give it another try and always do their very best.

» Their learning abilities never fail to astonish me.

» Their days are made up of a series of single-task actions. They give their full attention to one act, immerse in that, then quit and pick another.

» They have a full vision of their surroundings—they notice the small flower, the moon, the details of a movie or the costumes of a theatre play.

» They live in the present, enjoying every moment to its fullest without regrets of the past or thinking of the future.

» Every single day they experience bliss and they do not need a reason for that.

Observing their example of these qualities boosted my motivation to follow: I would like to be more present, more curious, learn without worrying about failure.

Alas, it proved to be true! This is what great teachers do: inspire us by setting an example to learn and to move beyond our present state. I’m grateful that these two incredible people are in my life.

image: Two boys in the form of an aircraft pilot via Shutterstock