In all situations ask: what would a toddler do?

Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

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.

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.

Of Castles & Princesses

Maayan went to see the Canada Games a few weeks ago. She was treated to see the figure skating. The figure eights, the jumps, the spins, the grace – the outfit. Maayan took one look at these skaters and said, “They look like a princess”.

Everything seems to be within the context of royalty, majesty, princes and princesses. Even today we went to the library which is adjacent to a very big building. Maayan took one look at that building and said, “It looks like a castle”.

There is this innate vision within toddlers to see something magical within the practical. An inherent sense of amazing within everything they see. A building is a castle, a figure skater is a princess. Life is amazing & filled with wonder. For a toddler, the natural state is a miraculous one. Civilians are all royalty and every building a castle.

We don’t know for sure, but at some point adults begin to move away from the sense of the magical. Getting degrees and jobs, paying bills and mortgages, feeling pain and frustration in the world. Adults see buildings as buildings and skaters as skaters – if adults even look. Adults are always busy, always doing, not always looking up to see a bigger picture.

Toddlers don’t live in a different world than adults do, they just see it differently. They interpret what they see to be magical, wonderful and inspiring. Adults also interpret, but without focus and work, it’s often less than magical or miraculous.

Adults have a lot to learn from toddlers. One of the most important is to remember that we’re always interpreting our lives and what we see. It is not the situation that is different but in how we define and interpret the situation. Adults need to be aware of the fact that we’re always defining our reality, and that it’s not always in their favor. Adults would look at a building and say, “So? So it’s a building. It has a function, end of story”. Why not look for the amazing and the miraculous? To appreciate the architecture, the form, the beauty – the castle that only a toddler sees.

The truth is that all of life, every single detail is absolutely a gift and a miracle. A leaf, a breath, a hug, a smile, ice skates and buildings. They’re here for us to enjoy. We’ll be able to when we live like a toddler.

Life lesson of a toddler #27: See everything as magical, royal and beautiful. Buildings are castles and skaters are princesses.