In all situations ask: what would a toddler do?

Archive for May, 2011

Sidewalk Chalk

A little while back, I was asked to advise adults and parents on how to increase enjoyment when playing with sidewalk chalk. Excited with the new project, I began intensive research and deep analysis. Eventually my research led me to do a focus group with highly-skilled toddlers who have been leaders in the sidewalk chalk industry for quite some time. When I shared my findings with my clients they said that the findings were “cutting edge” and “deeply relevant” and really pushed me to publish the findings. So for the first time ever, I’m sharing them with the wider public and hope you enjoy.

  • Take Control – One of the first things I noticed about the toddlers’ game plan was to immediately take control of the pavement. Adults are seen as “unprofessional” and “incompetent” when dealing with sidewalk chalk, so the toddler needs to take control. The rules, game, format and time frame are not to be decided by any adult and only by a toddler.
  • Fly By Game Plan – In order to achieve maximum enjoyment, toddlers create games on the fly. Games and rules are made up on the spot and can last for as long as deemed necessary. Adults find this “fly by” approach a little frustrating and very confusing. Therefore, my advice for the adults and parents is to leave it to the professionals. Toddlers enjoy the “fly by” approach because they’ve perfected the science of letting go and being in the moment. That is priceless advice for adults in general and when playing sidewalk chalk in particular.
  • Pain is Gain – I have never found a game played by toddlers that involved sitting and lying down. All games of toddlers involve running, jumping, dancing, somersaults, flying, bouncing and even spinning. Even if they get a little tired and out of breath they keep on going and going. Adults are also confused by this massive amount of activity. Adults are used to sitting and staring and find somersaults challenging and bouncing difficult. After pondering the differences I concluded that toddlers see pain (being tired and out of breath) as part of the game, as having fun and as increasing strength and endurance while adults see pain as pain. Due to this short-sightedness, I advise adults to see pain as gain and part of the game.

These examples are only part of the findings from our focus group and I hope to continue to share more of our research. In the meantime, I invite you to share some of your findings and research from highly skilled toddlers that you work with: How they play with sidewalk chalk, some of their games and anything else you think might contribute to our cause.

Remember, our research has shown that adults are deeply in need of the secrets behind toddlers’ success and achievements; specifically in the area of happiness and fulfillment. With that in mind, we’d love to hear about your findings and anything else you’d like to share!

Life lesson of a toddler #32: Let go, focus on the present moment and play with sidewalk chalk.

Whistle while you work

I’m sure you’ve noticed that adults don’t like to work so much. People thank God for Fridays and dread Mondays. When the weekend rolls around everyone runs to freedom with the hope of never having to step back into the office again. Lottery tickets are bought with the dream of achieving this very purpose. Even for a one-in-a-billion chance of winning, the few dollars are worth it if it means never going back to work.

While this sounds normal for the adult world, it is entirely foreign in the toddler world.

Nothing makes toddlers happier than working. Clean up time is a song, pre-school is a pleasure and helping out in any way is an absolute dream come true.

When adults have to go grocery shopping or make a trip to the bank, it is a necessary errand. When toddlers hear of such an outing they ask, “can I come?”

Recently Maayan has accompanied me on various errands – and she is so happy to do it. When I ask her to come grocery shopping she lights up. When I say, “let’s go to the bank” she jumps with excitement into the car. Anytime I do anything, she is filled with joy and gratitude to come with me.

Now imagine that I’d ask an adult to come grocery shopping with me. Imagine I’d ask an adult, “hey, do you want to come to the bank with me?” They’d think I’m crazy and start running in the opposite direction. Very, very fast.

But not toddlers. It’s pure joy and totally fun. No task is a burden and no errand annoying. Everything is enjoyed & appreciated. Fridays are as fun as Mondays and weekends are as great as everyday of the week.

Toddlers seem to live the life that adults really want to. They enjoy their work and love their activities.

The secret is to live like a toddler: with open eyes of gratitude and wonder for every activity that you can do.

Life lesson of a toddler #31: Be grateful for your work and appreciate the wonder in being active and productive.

All the time in the world

Adults have schedules, deadlines, appointments & meetings. Adults have watches on their wrists, on their walls, on their phones, in their cars and in their heads. Adults seem to have less and less time as they keep watch more and more. While adults are busy and rushed, toddlers have all the time in the world.

Toddlers might have watches but they don’t look at them. Toddlers might have clocks in their kitchens and bedrooms, but they don’t notice them. Parents and siblings might even try to have toddlers notice the time. And they can try all they want, but toddlers won’t notice, because they have all the time in the world.

Like most parents and adults, we have schedules, meetings and clocks. Like all toddlers, Maayan couldn’t care less.

Sometimes in the mornings if we’re running a little late for Maayan’s preschool, we try to get Maayan to get ready quicker. We say things like, “Come on Maayan, you don’t want to be late.” Or “If we leave in a few minutes you’ll have more time at preschool.” Maayan listens, but she is in no rush. She takes her time, does what she needs to do in a calm and collected way. Maayan, like royalty, is totally together with what she needs to do to be her best self everyday.

In any situation if we’re running a little late, Maayan is never phased to hurry up. Time seems to be a reality only to adults. Toddlers seem to be entirely unaware of time, and that seems to work in their favor.

While adults have quotes to help them stop and smell the flowers, toddlers are smelling them all the time. Oblivious to time, toddlers are calm, happy and enjoy their lives.

Because Maayan can’t be rushed, in the moments where I would be – I can’t be. I can’t rush because Maayan can’t be rushed. In those moments, I stop realizing the time and I’m calmed. I relax because Maayan is relaxed and I no longer have to stop to smell the flowers – because I’ve stopped.

The truth is that we have a lot more time than we realize. Maybe we should stop paying so much attention to the time and everything that reminds us of it. Maybe we should live more like toddlers and have all the time in the world.

Life lesson of a toddler #30: There is no need to rush, you have all the time in the world.

Snuggle Time

Recently, Maayan and I have been doing a lot of quality time snuggling & cuddling. With happy and loving eyes says to me, “Let’s snuggle.” How can a father say no?

Prior to going to sleep, in the afternoon or even when just waking up are all fantastic opportunities for snuggling. I told Maayan that she’s getting really good at snuggling. She said, “yeah“.

Snuggling is a very important activity for toddlers. It consists of hanging out, cuddling up, relaxing and enjoying your family.

Snuggling can be done at anytime of the day. Many people worry that they don’t have enough time in the day or that they should wait until they’re on vacation. That myth can be laid to rest my friends, because toddlers have proven time and again that snuggling and cuddling can be done at anytime of the day or week. All it takes is a few minutes.

Another misconception about snuggling is that you have to be a professional. I’ve often heard from adults who say that they don’t invest in snuggling because they’re not good at it or that it should be left for the professionals. Someone even said that snuggling is only for toddlers and cannot be done by adults. Once again, that is only a myth and is not based on any real evidence. In fact, all of the toddler’s research show that you don’t have to be a professional to snuggle. Anyone can do it. No matter what your level or age, you can snuggle and you will reap major benefits.

The proven method for most effectiveness is to just lie down next to your toddler or someone you love. Turn off all cell phones, computers and TV’s. Smile, relax and enjoy.

Life lesson of a toddler # 29: Cuddle up & Snuggle with someone you love today.