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We have spent most of the year discussing the many life lessons that we can and should teach to our children. As 2009 comes to a close, I thought that it would be appropriate to take the column this week and talk about some of the many life lessons that we can learn from our children! That's right – there are many things that we adults can learn from our children if we pay attention. All it takes is a little observation and a bit of an open mind.

For the most part, children live in a world that is not yet spoiled by complex adult demands and overwhelming expectations. They have not yet been battered down by the constant barrage of "what you should be!" that media and society in general throws our way on a daily basis. Their world is yet to be discovered and it is still wonderfully new, exciting, and unpredictable. Sadly, most of our adult worlds have lost these qualities as we have grown up.

What follows are some of my favorite lessons that over the years I have learned from children.

Have you ever noticed what happens when you ask a young child if they want to go with you somewhere? They are usually all smiles and excitement. Unlike an older child – or an adult – they seldom ask where you are going – or how long you will be – or what you will be doing – or when you will be back. The trip and being with you are the important things!  

How many times have we focused only on the destination and not on the process of getting there? How many times have we raced to a vacation destination and ignored all of the fun and excitement and adventures that we had in just getting there? Children still understand that it is the journey that is truly important – not just the isolated goal at the end.  

Often times when we adults do reach our goal we find it lacking and not all that we expected it to be. The real fun was trying to get there – and we missed that part completely! Slow down! Enjoy the "getting there" parts of your lives. Children understand this.

Children spend most of there time in the moment. As adults, we tend to spend most of our conscious thoughts lodged firmly in the future. The "what if?" sort of thinking tends to dominate many of our days (and nights). Many times we are so caught up in planning and doing for "tomorrow" that today goes by unnoticed. Now, I am certainly not suggesting that we should not plan for and anticipate the future. What I am suggesting however if that this focus on tomorrow should not dominate most of our conscious lives.  

The truth is somewhere in between and as adults we would be well served to spend a little more time enjoying all of the little things of today. We miss so many wonderful things when we sort of pass through the day hell bent on something or other about tomorrow.  

Personally speaking, I would give most anything to have just one more opportunity to give my little girl her bath and watch her giggle and play in the water. Those times went quickly by – almost unnoticed – and now they are gone forever. So slow down a bit and notice and enjoy all of those wonderful moments that are occurring all around you every day. We can profit from watching children enjoy each and every day – missing very little that goes on around them.

To a child, the world is always new and a wonderment to behold. As we grow older, we take most things for granted and seldom pause to simply take in the beauty and wonderment of the amazing world that is around us.  

A child always sees the flowers in the grass. Do you? Children watch in amazement as honey bees buzz from flower to flower. Do you just walk by them? When was the last time that you paused or maybe walked outside at night and simply looked up at a clear star studded sky? That night sky is still as beautiful as you remember – if you will just take the time to look.  

Even though you have seen something a thousand times before, pause sometime and try to look at it as if you had never seen it before. The magic will still be there. With a little imagination, that cardboard box can still be a castle if you want it to be. Children understand this. Most of us have lost it somewhere along the way.

Last be certainly not least I want to mention the lessons of a child's love. Children love unconditionally and completely. There are no conditions or prerequisites. They forgive transgressions quickly and love even the parent who abuses them. Their love is total. We can all learn what love really is from children.

In closing, I wish all my Fab40 family a happy and wonderful new year. May we all be just a little more like children.

**James is a Masters level Child Psychologist and Internationally Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor who has worked with distressed families for 40 years. He is the author of the Seamus the Sheltie series of children's books that were designed to assist parents in discussing difficult issues with younger children. Both books have received multiple national awards from parenting organizations. Mr. Beverly has written and published articles on parenting in a variety of media.

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