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Oregon Family Magazine

5 Kid Behaviors Adults Could Learn to Do Better

07/01/2020 ● By Cheryl Maguire
Please use your inside voice… Eat your broccoli… It’s bedtime… Wear your jacket.

As a parent you have probably said at least one of these statements more than a hundred times to your child. Adults are always telling kids how to behave. But there are times when kids do things better than us. Here are five behaviors adults can learn from kids:

1. Just Say No

Most toddlers favorite word is no. A child will cross their arms and stand their ground shouting no until they turn blue and pass out. Adults do not have the same ease of using the word.

Why is saying no hard for adults? According to an article in Psychology Today Magazine there are many reasons adults struggle with using the word no. Often people want to belong to a group so they may say yes to receive approval from others. Another reason a person may resist using the word no is fear of upsetting another person. Lastly, a person may want to be helpful and feel valued, so they reframe from saying no.

How can adults just say no? Psychology Today Magazine says the word no should feel empowering. By practicing and remaining diplomatic most people will improve their ability to say no to others. Envisioning how easy it is for a child to say no may also help you realize you can do it as well.

2. Ability to Negotiate

If you tell your child their bedtime is 8 pm, often they will ask how about 8:30 pm? Or if you suggest they eat five more bites of their dinner they respond with, “can I only eat three bites?” Children have little fear or resistance to negotiating with adults or other kids.

Why is negotiating hard for adults? An article on states, “our research found nearly one-fifth of workers never negotiate after they're offered a job.” After interviewing 2,000 people about why they don’t like to negotiate found the biggest reason was fear of losing their job. Other answers were people felt they would seem greedy or they wouldn’t get a raise, anyway.

In a Money Watch article by Jeff Haden he states, “I hate negotiating, mostly because a negotiation often feels confrontational.” Heidi Grant Halvorson Ph.D. shares this viewpoint by stating, “A negotiation is an experience that is rife with conflicting motivations.”

How can adults negotiate better? Negotiating is an important skill since it enables you to earn a higher salary or pay less for a car or house. This skill can help you in both your personal and business relationships. Similar to saying no, you will feel empowered when you are able to negotiate effectively.

In the Psychology Today article “How to Negotiate Like a Lawyer” Ruth Lee Johnson J.D. offers five strategies you can use to improve your negotiating skills which are to prepare, plan, assert and implement the solution. She stresses the importance of listening to the other person and doing your research before the negotiation.

3. Play Creatively

If a child sees a basket of dolls or Legos, they can play creatively for hours. Sometimes a cardboard box is enough inspiration for a child to pretend to be in a car, train or plane. As people age, they no longer use pretend play.

Why is creative play challenging for adults? In an article on Psych Central Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S. discusses why adults struggle with creative play. She states, “Play for adults is perceived as unproductive, petty or even a guilty pleasure.” This leaves adults feeling as if the creative play is unnecessary, yet she found play helps people to feel happy.

How can adults play creatively? Tartakovsky suggests you can add play into your life by changing how you think about it and give yourself permission to play. She recommends using your childhood memories of play to reconnect with the idea. You can also play with your child or other children you know.

4. How to Succeed

If you have witnessed a child learning to walk or learning to ride a bike, you will see that despite falling down, they continue to get up until they mastered the skill. Children don’t allow failure to hinder them from trying again until they succeed.

Why is it difficult for adults to succeed? Most success is the result of many failed attempts such as mastering a new skill. In a Psychology Today article Guy Winch Ph.D. discusses how when people fail they can believe they are helpless and unable to achieve your goal.

How can adults succeed? Winch suggests the best way to overcome failure is to focus on the aspects you can control. After you are able to figure out what isn’t in your control, try to improve it by taking a class or preparing and practicing for the next time you attempt the skill.

5. Finding Humor in Everything

Children laugh at almost anything. If an adult speaks in high pitched voice, stumbles over a shoe, or mispronounces a word a child will erupt into a fit of laughter. It is easy to make a child laugh. If you ask any comedian, they will probably tell you it’s not as easy to elicit laughter from an adult.

Why is difficult for adults to laugh? People may hold back with laughing due to a fear of offending others. Robert Provine, Ph.D. author of the book Laughter states that adults laugh less than children due to the fact they play less.

How can adults laugh more? Provine found people are more likely to laugh when they are with other people as opposed to being alone. You can also read humorous books, watch funny TV, or spend time with your child since laughter can be contagious.

It can be frustrating to hear your child say no to you or negotiate a later bedtime, but next time it happens notice how easy it is for them to do these behaviors. It can inspire you to do the same with your relationships.

Cheryl Maguire holds a Master of Counseling Psychology degree. She is married and is the mother of twins and a daughter. Her writing has been published in The New York Times, Parents Magazine, AARP, Healthline, Your Teen Magazine, and many other publications. You can find her at Twitter @CherylMaguire05