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Toddler Life Coaching

Updated: Nov 3, 2022

Observing toddlers is great life coaching. Let me explain by covering a few life coaching behaviors toddlers do naturally.

First off, toddlers aren’t phased by failure. Have you ever observed a toddler learning to walk? Half a step, plop. Two steps, plop. Standing there smiling as they fall forward, knowing for sure you’re going to catch them. They don’t seem at all concerned by how long it’s taking to master this two-legged feat; they keep getting up repeatedly and going a little further each day. All that falling and getting back up is strengthening muscles little by little to foster success. For a few weeks the unnatural walk looks a bit like Frankenstein; but before you know it, out of the blue, they are toddling around like a natural. Then they’re on to climbing… but that isn’t quite as cute, so we’ll skip that part.

Then something happens where failure moves from a learning process to failing is bad and a disguised stamp of “damaged” or “less than” is placed on us (by ourselves or others). Could you imagine the mental stamina of a society that continued to cheer on every individual as they failed forward in this life adventure? If we automatically treated fails as mere learning experiences that had no negative connotations about us as a person, insecurities would plummet. That is a society worth dreaming about!

Second, toddlers see hard things as adventure.

See this 16-month-old cutie at the bottom of the stairs? She doesn’t look up and get discouraged about how long

it will take her to ascend that flight of rock stairs. The joy is totally in the journey, not in arriving at the top. In fact, she probably doesn’t even care that they are hard and uncomfortable on those little knees. She simply takes one stair at a time and occasionally stops to smile at the closest observer to show how proud she is with herself at conquering each step. Although those steps seem small to an adult, they are much bigger to a toddler, but toddlers don’t acknowledge size or distance.

Why is it the older we get, “hard things” become almost overwhelming? We dramatize tasks that really aren’t even all that hard and throw an adult tantrum in our minds. The adventure of exploring and learning wanes as we age. Research suggests that by age 25, our brains tend to get lackadaisical. It's not that we can’t learn new things, but rather we rely on neural pathways to do our thinking. In other words, we get stuck in a brain rut. It takes more work to live a “big” life, but in my opinion, it’s work worth doing! And here’s a secret, if we drop into toddler mode, work can be fun!

Third, toddlers don’t understand why anyone wouldn’t like them. Even toddlers have distinct natures and differing introvert or extrovert levels, yet they just do their thing and don’t worry what anyone thinks, because why would anyone NOT like them?! They have an innate grasp of their complete value and worthiness – they don’t even need to think about it. They simply belong. If they aren’t liked, it’s clearly the other person’s issue because they know they are 100% lovable, and they are right!

Then we get older and start learning societal cues. Being “less than” pops up again solely because someone doesn’t like us for whatever reason. Oh, “I’m damaged somehow,” we think. How do I undamage myself? What do I need to be, or do, or change to fit in? Then before we know it, we’ve compromised our unique, awesome selves. Here’s a secret: that 100% lovable does not go away! Toddlers know it; follow their lead. If someone doesn’t like you, or gets annoyed or frustrated by you, that’s an issue that’s going on in their head and has nothing to do with the remarkable person you are!

Fourth, they really are Spiderman! Or an astronaut! No, really!

If you try and call these boys by their name, their response is usually, “he’s not here right now,” or “I’ll tell him you said that,” or something similar. They are all in on whoever or whatever they choose to be in the moment. Children don’t naturally devise self-defeating characters.

Did you know you can convince your brain of anything you want to? Toddlers can jump right into whatever they want to be and be all in, but often as adults, we have to take steps to our ultimate belief destination. What kind of hero or villain are you making yourself out to be? If you wrote me a page description of yourself beginning with “I am,” what would follow? Do you like your story?

Fifth, and the final mindset for this post, is that kids can simply make a decision and don’t have brain drama considering all the options. When presented broccoli as a “tree” to eat, many a toddler will be all in - YES! “You want to go for a nap?” “No!” “You want ice cream?” “Yes!” Kids just don’t spend a lot of time trying to make a decision. They pick something and learn from it and don’t make choices they regret mean anything bad about them. Next time, they may choose a different answer depending on what they learned from the outcome the first time.

Fast forward several years and all of a sudden, we get petrified to make a “wrong” decision! Now, I’m not saying to be whimsical on making important decisions. Make some considerations and proceed with the decision that feels right or best or true for the situation. If it turns out great, yay! If it doesn’t, what is there to learn, and possibly apply to future decisions? Kids don’t beat themselves up over a decision they regret, they learn from it and move on, and so can we. If our choice has led to unfavorable conditions, ask yourself how this current condition can be a gift or opportunity. Or ask yourself what knowledge or growth came from the experience. Do a modest evaluation, accept and embrace your humanness and move on. Most of our decisions are not life and death. Most of them could have favorable outcomes no matter which choice is made. Sitting in indecision, mulling over every detail is so draining of precious mental energy. Use that energy in moving forward on the decision made and redirect as necessary.

These few examples are the tip of the iceberg in how toddlers and young children can provide great examples of living life to the fullest. I would love for you to add your toddler observations in the comments for all to delight in.

High Five!


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