In all situations ask: what would a toddler do?

Archive for the ‘live like a toddler’ 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.

Waking up in the morning

It’s not easy to get up in the morning. Hey, we’re just waking up, feeling heavy, a little dizzy, wanting another five minute of blissful sleep, where’s the coffee already!

This is all a daily occurrence for people – unless you’re a toddler.

There are a number of very inspiring ways how toddlers wake up. First of all (as long as they go to bed on time and sleep through the night) they wake up happy. Every morning, my wonderful daughters are just happy. Our 18 month old Yarden gives an initial cry, but that’s just to get out of the crib. Once out, it’s go time. And they’re all smiles.

This morning Yarden woke up earlier than usual, about an hour before Maayan around 6am. As soon as I picked Yarden up she smiled, looked at her sister and said, “Maya!”. That’s right, we’re happy to be up and we’re sharing the joy.

Maayan has also developed a little routine. Since the fall (when it’s still dark out at 7am in Halifax), she waits for the sky to turn colors. She wakes up by herself, turns on the lights in her room, puts her head back on the pillow and watches the colors change. “Look, it’s changing colors”, she says. As soon as it’s bright enough, she gets up and says, “It’s day time now”.

Happy. Relaxed. Enjoying the beautiful sky. Soaking it in. Saying hi to anyone in the room. This is how a toddler begins their day.

Adults have a thing or two to learn from toddlers. Too many adults wake up like the world is on fire. Rush out of bed, throw down the caffeine, worry about work.

I think too many adults wake up like chickens with their heads cut off, while toddlers seem to be gracious little Queens of an empire.

While it’s true that thank God many adults wake up early, exercise, take time to themselves before they give it to others, we’re waiting for it to go viral. It is so crucial to begin one’s day happy and relaxed, giving some serious quality time to yourself.

Imagine how different everyone’s day would be if they began it by waking up a little earlier (which also means going to sleep earlier), going for a walk outside, focusing on the amazing blessings of our lives, thinking about our goals, our dreams and how we can make it happen today.

Instead of waking up in a craze and daze, let’s wake up early with joy & gratitude. A colorful sky can do wonders to a person who loses themselves in the grandeur and the beauty. Soaking the blessings in. With that, we’ll be living a totally inspired and amazing life because we’ll be living like a toddler.

Life lesson of a toddler #26: Go to bed early & wake up early. Wake up with joy & gratitude. Go outside and appreciate the brilliant & colorful sky in the morning.

Small pieces

Have you ever paid attention to adults when they eat? Of course everyone is different, but in general, it’s not a pretty sight. Not that it’s an ugly one God forbid, but it’s just not something you enjoy watching. I can’t put my finger on it, but watching adults eat food is not always an experience you’re looking for.

 

The opposite is true with toddlers: it’s pure pleasure to watch them eat! They eat so slowly, they chew each bite with such precision and effort. They enjoy it. They don’t gulp it down, swallow it whole or rush the meal. They eat with such royal grace, dignity and ease.

 

Another important thing is the size. Everything is in small pieces. Today I made cheese sandwiches for lunch. For Maayan, who is already 4, I gave her two full slices. For Yarden, who is 18 months old, I cut it into very small pieces. Those little pieces are eaten with ease, calm & comfort. One at a time, there’s no rush, no hurry, nowhere to go. They’re in the moment and enjoying it to its’ fullest.

 

If you have some time, I would suggest studying toddlers as they eat. Notice the patterns, the motions, the grace. Pay attention to how long it takes and how little they eat. Make sure you’re aware of how different it is from how adults eat. Enjoy it, love it, eat it up. But know that you can be like them too.

 

Life lesson of a toddler #25: Cut up your food into small pieces & eat slowly to enjoy every bite.

Band Aids

I had a small paper cut on my wrist (a.k.a boo boo). While for many people that might not seem like such a big deal, for a toddler it is a rare opportunity to employ one of the greatest inventions of mankind: the band aid.

There is a whole medical procedure for toddlers when it comes to boo boos. First, a toddler begins with asking, “Where does it hurt?” After pointing to the exact location of the boo boo, the toddler kisses it and asks, “Is that better?”

Upon conclusive evidence that the kiss has in fact improved the situation, the toddler makes a move for the medical cabinet. Forget about pills, antiseptics, sterile gauzes or wipes. For a toddler, the only thing a boo boo needs is a band aid.

As Maayan was handling her patient (me), as soon as the band aid was on, everything was healed. That was it. Maayan didn’t ask about my cut again. Once the band aid goes on, there is no more need for concern.

The band aid takes care of all pain.

When it comes to boo boos, toddlers say to just put on a band aid. Do what you can do with a lot of love and then don’t worry about it. Sometimes, all we need is for someone to ask what’s hurting us, give us a kiss and put on the band aid of no need to worry. Everything will be fine.

Then go play.

Life lesson of a toddler #24: If you see someone in pain, ask them where it hurts. Then give them a band aid. Even if their pain isn’t physical, giving someone a band aid always helps.

Breathe like a bunny

This afternoon, as we were hanging out at home, I said to Maayan, “Let’s do some Yoga.” While I intended to show Maayan some moves, Maayan quickly shifted into instructor mode. “OK”, she said, “first like this.” Following my daughters’ lead, we lied face down for a minute and then on our backs. Then Maayan says, “OK, now we breathe like a bunny.” And we did short breathes through our nose and then out our mouth. In out, in out, short quick breathes like a bunny (I think). I wanted to continue with the lotus position, but Maayan’s little legs weren’t ready for it. So instead, Maayan did “criss-cross apple sauce“.

At Maayan’s preschool they do Yoga, but I didn’t realize to what extent. Maayan had a whole routine and I was very impressed. Toddlers are inherently flexible and open to new things, so doing Yoga is a brilliant activity for them. It’s a wonderful experience of being confident with your body, stretching your comfort zone and calming your mind. Many people would probably think that toddlers wouldn’t need such a thing. In truth, however, it is a something that they greatly benefit from. Not only is it a gift to use as one grows older but it is something that gives them confidence and calm in relating to their body.

Adults need to do more of this as well. Yoga, stretching and deep breathing is something that is very much catching on in the wider world, but needs to even more. If people take lunch breaks at work, part of that break should include some sort of Yoga and deep breathing. It would awaken the senses, expand the mind, balance the emotions and in general make the body happy.

If a person is not used to it, it might hurt at first. For beginners we recommend lying face down for several minutes, followed by being on your back for another several minutes. Complete this exercise by going criss-cross apple sauce and breathing like a bunny. No less than a total of 10 minutes – and you’ll be living like a toddler.

Life lesson of a toddler #23: Start doing Yoga and Deep Breathing, your body and soul will be grateful. At the very least, breathe like a bunny.

Juice Boxes

There is something  that toddlers seem to enjoy more than anything else. It is something that is calming but exciting, something that always seems to be new. Something refreshing even if just after drinking something. That is the glorious juice box.

I’m not quite sure what it is either. Yes, I’ve been thinking about it. Maybe it’s the small package that is just appropriate for a toddler. Cans and bottles are too much. Containers like orange juice or milk are just a spill waiting to happen. Glass is dangerous. Aluminium is too rough and tough to deal with or even open. So it makes sense that toddlers opt for the smaller, more compatible and safer juice box. Hey, I throw one back every now and then….when no one’s watching.

There is another element about the juice box. This element separates it from every other product on the market that I’m aware of. That my friends is the straw.

The straw allows for a clean drink, no spill, easy on the teeth and just gets the job done. On top of all this, the straw is there to begin with! While beer bottles need a tool to be opened, soda cans are prone to opening it incorrectly and wine bottles an entire ordeal to open if you haven’t been trained by professionals – the juice box is catered for the rest of us.

I say we protest the difficulty of cans and bottles. Maybe beer, soda and wine aren’t drunk with straws. Maybe they need to be opened in fancy ways. You know what? Maybe we should change all that. Maybe, everyone should catch on to the simplicity of how toddlers live and consume their beverages. It all starts somewhere, today it can start with juice boxes. Bring your i.d.

Life lesson of a toddler #21: Drink more juice boxes. At the very least, use straws with any and every beverage. People will smile.

Sing a song & make your body happy

Driving home yesterday, Maayan began to sing a song. Although it had rhythm and rhyme, the words were not too familiar to me. I asked Maayan if it was from preschool, and it was not.

 

When we got out of the car, Maayan said to me, “Singing makes my whole body happy.” To which Maayan then slowly walked on the snow, dancing in her footsteps and singing the entire time.

 

Isn’t it so true? When we sing, it isn’t just our mouth that sings. We use our hands, we dance a little and ultimately our whole self feels it. We just feel better!

 

It’s a very powerful thing to sing. It is putting emotion into our words. If a person is happy, their words sound like a major. If a person is upset, their words are like a minor. If a person is really excited, the words make you feel excited. If a person says “Hello” but really wants to say, “I hate you” – we’ll feel it. And if a person says, “I am so upset” but is really calm and happy, we’ll feel it as well. We’re always singing because our whole body is doing it.

 

If we were to sing a happy song, we’ll become happy. If we listen to a totally energetic song, it will give us that energy. The more we sing, the more we feel that song. Why? Because it makes our whole body happy!

 

Life lesson of a toddler #20: Sing songs throughout the day, even make up your own. Your body will thank you.

 

Make a silly face

While we were sitting down at the table, Maayan says to me, “Let’s make silly faces.” Great idea!

 

Maayan did the first one and then asked me to. It was pretty funny, we were both cracking up. In all honesty, I have had some real life experience making silly faces. Back in the day I remember seeing a picture of Harpo Marx, Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin as Harpo made a hilarious face. His cheeks puffed, eyes crossed and tongue out made for a very inspiring face. As I did my best to live up to the great ones, Maayan laughed along with sheer enjoyment.

 

Silly faces are a fantastic way of opening up. Whether a person is in too serious of a mood, worried about the latest news or just in need of a good laugh – silly faces are the perfect antidote. They come highly recommended by toddlers.

 

In fact, toddlers are of the opinion that adults should be making silly faces on a more consistent basis. Studies have shown, they say, that silly faces can add years to one’s life and increase productivity as well. In the latest news, they have even recommended making silly faces in board rooms and business meetings. When things might get a little serious, silly faces can fix all that. Someone is encouraged to take the bull by the horns and in the middle of a meeting stand up and say, “Everyone, let’s make silly faces!”

 

Life lesson of a toddler #19: Make silly faces often. It is guaranteed to bring joy to your life!