We often get the best advice when we aren’t looking for it, or from people we wouldn’t normally expect. Kids, for example, have a unique ability to show us a new perspective on life — or push us to reconnect with joy, wonder, or imagination.
We asked members of the Thrive community to share the best words of wisdom or advice they have ever received from a child. Their stories will remind you to listen closely when the youngest person in the room speaks up.
If you love someone, tell them
“My 6-year-old son once told me: ‘Mommy, don’t be shy. If you love someone, just tell them. If they don’t love you back, that’s OK. It does not mean you are not beautiful. You are always beautiful! People sometimes have different reasons for not loving you back; none of them have anything to do with your self-worth.’”
—Nadja El Fertasi, CEO and founder, Brussels, Belgium
Just take a deep breath
“My daughter was visiting after her freshman year of college. I had just moved and I was putting together a couch that turned out to be defective. As I was sitting on the floor with my life in pieces all around me, she wrote me a message of hope: ‘Everything is going to be OK; everything will work out. Just take a deep breath.’ She left for college and I later found the message exactly when I needed it. It delights me that she is so wise.”
—Tammy Nelson, psychotherapist, Santa Monica, CA
Don’t rush to react
“‘Mum, stop filling in the blanks!’ My teenage daughter started using this phrase a year back whenever she noticed I was reacting too quickly. It always stopped me dead in my tracks. I wasn’t giving her the time she needed to think about and respond to questions, observations, or requests from me. The phrase works brilliantly.”
—Janice Taylor, career coach and writer, Brighton, U.K.
It’s all about your attitude
“Our family had recently returned from a year traveling around the world. We each had one carry-on and a daypack. When I asked my then-12-year-old daughter the question, ‘What do you think was the most important thing you took on the trip?’ She answered, with just the slightest bit of contempt in her voice, ‘My attitude, of course.’ While I had expected an answer that was about a material object, I was surprised and delighted by how perfectly she nailed it.”
—Lisa Culhane, life coach, Denver, CO
Death doesn’t need to be scary
“Many years ago I worked with a brilliant 5-year-old boy. ‘I don’t understand why people worry about death,’ he said to me. ‘Before you die, you are alive, so there’s no problem, and after you die, you are not conscious, so there’s no problem.’ I never saw death the same way after he imparted his wisdom onto me.”
—Jeffrey B. Rubin, psychotherapist and meditation teacher, New York, NY
Keep the love, even when you argue
“The best advice I’ve ever received from a child came from my son. We had a habit of fighting when he was young, and whenever I found myself yelling at him, I would ‘put myself in time out.’ I did not see myself as a screaming parent, and I’d leave the room in order to calm down, which would only upset my son more. One time, after my time out, I went back into his room and suggested I give him a hug. ‘We love each other,’ I said. ‘Let’s hug and get over our fight.’ My son stepped toward me, still sobbing, and said, ‘OK, but next time can you hug me before you yell at me?’ I realized I could. I was the adult. I could always stop and hug him instead of yell at him. We haven’t fought like that since, and that was over 10 years ago.”
—Lisa Kohn, author and executive coach, Wayne, PA
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