What we've learnt from our toddlers.

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When you think of your role as a parent, a large component of it is teaching. From the moment that small person comes into the world, you are their educator.

You need to teach them to feed, to burp, to sleep (OK, some of them take a little longer to pick that one up).  As they grow, so too does the scope of your teaching. Now you need to teach them how to make friends, play nicely. They need to learn how to feed themselves and to get dressed in the morning. Every day you’re teaching them new skills to get along in the world.

But the learning actually goes both ways. When my daughter plays on the floor with her DUPLO set, she’s teaching me a thing or two. For example, it’s okay for things to be messy and imperfect – life is a work in progress.

Foster their creativity. Image: Supplied.

Here are just some of the things my toddler has taught me:

Everyone is equal.

Children have a unique way of seeing the world for what it is. They don’t see hate and prejudice. They don’t see race or colour in the way we do. Their world view is simple and pure. We are all people, we are all equal.

Throughout the years we all become jaded and influenced by those around us and unless we fight to keep it, our purity can dissolve in the years.

parenting toddlers
"The learning actually goes both ways." (Image supplied)

To see this in action all you need to do is watch a group of young children interact at the park. All of them might be nervous but equally they’re all there to have fun and make friends. It doesn’t matter how tall you are, how skinny you are, what colour your skin happens to be. Everyone is equal and everyone can play.

It's the same with my daughter's DUPLO figures, which come from all races and backgrounds. From the park to the playroom, toddlers don't discriminate.

Empathy is everything.

Any parent will tell you that children have an incredible way of getting hurt - it’s part of the job description. Inevitably, at any park trip you will see at least one child stumble and fall needing some TLC from mum or dad to get on with it.

Last week, my daughter and I witnessed one such incident. Right in front of where we were standing, a young girl tripped and fell. Her mother was on the other side of the park attending to another child, so I approached the little one to make sure she was OK. Before I could register what had happened, my daughter (who is only 18 months old) handed this child her favourite bunny - an unspoken gesture loaning a special friend to someone in need.

It’s an important reminder that at the end of the day, kindness and empathy is all that matters.

LEGO® DUPLO® always results in a smile. Image: Supplied.

Technology is not everything.

In our modern age it’s easy to get addicted to our technology. From the minute I wake in the morning I check my phone. It sleeps closer to me than my husband does most nights, plugged in right next to my bed.

Sydney has recently suffered through some of the weirdest weather on record. Temperatures well into the forties combined with torrential rain. Parents know that sometimes the rain days are the worst. It commits you to a day of inside activities which, for so many of us, means a great reliance on technology and screens for entertainment.

Don't get me wrong- they have their place. But it was my toddler who showed me recently that technology is not everything. Standing watching the rain come down outside she was mesmerised by the way the drops hit the window, chasing each other down - racing to see who came first. I pried my eyes away from my emails and stood, just watching her amazement at something so simple.

It was a stark reminder to me that entertainment and wonder for children is found all around, you just need to share in their joy and intrigue. That afternoon we banned the screens. We donned our raincoats and gumboots and went searching for the best puddles that storm had to offer.

parenting toddlers
"Take a step back, and laugh when you can." Image via iStock.

There is happiness and laughter in everything if you want there to be.

As I get older I find that I get grumpier. Adult life is stressful. There are demands placed on you all the time and it’s easy to carry it around with you throughout the day until one day, your stress becomes who you are.


But children have an amazing way of reminding us to take a step back, and laugh when you can. Their ability to find humour and joy in all situations is a lesson that we as parents can all learn from.

I’ve heard a saying which is that you should spend half as much money and twice as much time with your children. And when you think about it, it’s true. All our toddlers really want is our time. You don’t need 100 toys that light up and sing to keep them amused. One of my daughter's favourite things to do is to sit with me, on the floor playing with her DUPLO. She was given the Number Train as a gift for her first birthday and it’s become a firm favourite.

While she’s still in the early stages of learning, she giggles and shrieks when we play pretend with the cat figurine and she loves to ‘help’ me stick the bricks together.

"All our toddlers really want is our time." Image via iStock.

All that really matters is time with the ones you love.

For a lot of parents, bath time is just another hurdle in the daily gauntlet. You’re so close to bed time but you know that putting your feet up is still a while away. But take the time to sit with your child next time they’re in the bath.

Laugh with them as you blow bubbles in the air, giggle and be silly putting bubbles on each others faces and heads. Turn bath time back into fun time, rather than another chore at the end of the day and you’ll see that their ability to find happiness in the simplest things is truly contagious.

What life lessons have you learnt from your toddler?

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