06 Sep 6 Grown-Up Lessons from My 6-Year-Old Daughter

I remember it like it was yesterday. On Tuesday, August 16th, 2011, my youngest daughter, Mia (sweet Moo Moo), was born at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. My wife, Rachel, handled the delivery like a champ, as that’s just the way she handles everything. Ellie, her big sister, brought Mia a Build-A-Bear that chirped, “I love you baby Mia” when squeezed.

Recently, our little Mia turned six. Think back to when you were six years old. What do you remember? Outside of eating a loaf of microwaved butter bread every week, I don’t remember much. Maybe that’s because fun for me in the mid-80’s included running headfirst into as many walls as I could. Thankfully, I’m learning valuable insight from a young person’s perspective from Mia… and let me tell you, the lessons apply just as much to adults as they do to kids.

6 Grown-Up Lessons from My Six-Year-Old Daughter

#1. Bounce back quickly. Like all kids, Mia runs into the bumps in life and may get frustrated and cry. The good news is, whatever takes her down doesn’t stay with her for long. If she slips and takes a tumble when practicing her gymnastics on the lawn, she will often jump right back up, glance at me, and shout in her cartoon character-sounding voice, “Don’t worry, I’m OK!” She may get unhappy when we choose a restaurant that she doesn’t like, but then accepts the fact that she can’t always have Wendy’s after being bummed out for merely a minute. Sometimes she pouts when she has to go to swim club with the older kids, but chills out as soon as she gets in the water. The maxim she lives by is to get up and move on when life throws you a curveball.  Life is much more enjoyable that way. [Check out The Cup of “Joe” that Gave Me Perspective for an inspiring bounce back story.]

#2. Ask a lot of questions. Did you know that it is written in the Bible that it was Jesus who first said, “Out of the mouths of babes…?” Well, when you’re six, out of the mouths of babes come questions. Lots of questions. On our recent family trip, Mia asked, “Why does the drive to grandma’s house up north take so long, but the ride back home goes fast?” There are the simple, thoughtful questions. When we open a new set of Legos, after every step in the instruction booklet Mia wonders, “What do I do next?” Then there are the questions that may not have answers. Every morning on the way to school, Mia’s curiosity peaks and without fail she’ll ask, “Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?” The good news is, you don’t have to know everything. Put your ego aside and learn from others. [Check out 6 Questions to Help You Become Who You Want to Be in 2017 to learn a proven question-asking strategy.]

#3. Cherish being alone. When Mia started junior kindergarten, she would often look sad when I dropped her off for school. Today, she embraces independence and enjoys spending time alone.   As a first grader this year, Mia rushes home at the end of the day and runs into our toy room to play school. She sets up an elaborate array of supplies for her classroom, brings in the students, and sits down in her teacher chair to begin class. No need for her sister or the neighbor kids to join, Mia is the teacher and her American Girl dolls are the students. At the tender age of six she has figured out that some alone time is a good thing. It’s ok to block out and enjoy some time just for you. [Check out Eat the Banana, Not the Frog to learn how to maximize your alone time.]

#4. Move. Similar to a goldfish, Mia needs to keep moving. When Mia settles in to watch a movie, she often decides after a short time that there are bigger and better things to be doing. She  prefers to be active… whether it be skipping around the house, going to the park, taking the garbage out, throwing the football, performing gymnastics, practicing yoga, or planning her next birthday party. Don’t just sit there and let life pass you by. Movement is energizing. [Check out The Best Way to Stay Fit When You’re Busy to learn how to make time for exercise.]

#5. Be persistent. When Mia is thirsty, she gets really loud until someone helps her out and she gets her drink. If we don’t get to her in a timely fashion, we often find her using our kitchen as a jungle gym until she finds what she is craving. Sometimes a girl just has to find a way. If she is hungry and trying to pull a fast one at Starbucks, she gets really quiet and cuddly, and flashes me a sweet smile for a cake pop. Taking it slow and having patience while pursuing, often means she’ll manage to score what she goes after. You may need to persist for a long time for some dreams, as every week Mia inquires, “When are we getting a dog?”  Be persistent in your dreams and goals. [Check out Do It Afraid to learn how to go after “it.”]

#6. Live joyfully. For the vast majority of time, Mia is in good spirits with a twinkle in her eye. She is smiling when she wakes up. She willingly does little tasks around the house. She is upbeat and excited when she goes to school. She is delighted to spend time with her grandparents, and she lights up during play dates with friends. She never misses the chance to give me six “huggies & kissies” before she goes to bed. Life only comes around once, so do whatever makes you happy, with people that make you smile. [Check out What Is Your Reason to Get Up? to jump start your day with joy.]

“All I Really Need to Know I’ll Learn in First Grade”

This week, Mia started first grade. Her six lessons remind me of the following sign that my first grade teacher had hanging in our classroom: “All I really need to know I’ll learn in first grade.” I really must agree, we learn such simple yet important things while we are young. Then, too often, these lessons tend to drift in and out of focus during adulthood.

This past year, I’ve often heard, “Mia was quoted a lot in your book. She should’ve written it.” I’m learning and relearning as much from Mia as she is learning from me. Thank you, Mia, for always reminding me to fill my heart with what’s important, and to be done with the rest.

ACTION: For each of the next six days, focus on one lesson per day. For example, day one, bounce back by taking the initiative to end a grudge. Day two, ask a lot of questions about an area in which you want to increase your knowledge or confidence. Day three, carve out some alone time to work on your highest priority. Day four, schedule time to exercise. Day five, take the first step toward something you really want to accomplish, but keep putting off. Day six, create a ripple effect of joy by responding to “How are you?” by saying, “Joyful.”

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