Sometimes the best unexpected and surprising life lessons are learned from your own kids.
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What Toddlers Have Taught You
Patience, humility, and enjoying life's moment aren't always life lessons learned from other parents or from inspirational quotes. Instead, they're often learned from a source closer to the heart -- your toddlers, who are just learning how to speak, to assert independence, and to develop individual personalities. We asked you (our readers!) to share the life lessons you have unexpectedly learned from toddlers, and we gathered stories of eight important ones such as having perspective, giving other parents some leeway, and seeing the beauty in everyone.
Have Patience -- Don't Give Up!
If you can't figure it out the first time, keep working at it. My little boy tried so long to walk, but no matter how many times he fell, even after getting his first black eye, he never gave up. - Crystal Cumpton
Patience is everything. Dirty clothes, diapers, and dishes aren't the end of the world. Be grateful for every little thing, even the tantrums, because everything and every day is a blessing. - Kristina Hollenbeck
Imperfection Is Okay
In the past six months that I've been a mother, my child has taught me to not be so organized. I've realized that no matter what, at the end of the day, if the dishes aren't done, the floor isn't swept, and the laundry's still in the basket, it's okay. Being with my family is more important than a few chores that can wait until the next day. - Ashley Basto
Always Have Perspective
We live miles and countries away from our family. When my daughter's grandparents came to visit last Christmas and they were getting ready to depart, I was trying to prepare her for separation. She said, "It is okay, Mommy. I already know how it works. First it hurts real bad and you cry and feel sad, but eventually it gets better and you miss them, but it doesn't hurt so much." Talk about resilience and self-awareness; it takes forever for an adult to comprehend that. She is only 5 years old and life situations have taught her how to cope with separation. I learn from her every minute. - Silvia McDonald
Don't Judge Other Parents
Never ever judge anyone else's parenting style, especially in public situations. Kids are loud and smelly, and even the best parents have to handle tantrums and meltdowns. I have been humbled by my little guy, and I just have to remember they are like wild animals and unpredictable! - Cristina Gonzalez
Don't Hide Your Feelings
When my husband was 32 years old, he was diagnosed with colon cancer. He had extensive surgery and months of chemotherapy. Our daughter was 4. I thought I needed to hide my tears and sadness from her. If she caught me breaking down, I told her I was "just tired" rather than show emotions that would be a normal part of the process. I felt I needed to be strong for all of us. Little did I know that I was teaching her to hold feelings inside. I learned quickly one day when she simply broke down and had only one explanation: "I'm just tired, Momma." We sure changed things that day. - Sara Walker Gooley
Always Set a Good Example
That I am a hero to my kids, and that everything I do, good or bad, they notice. Also, everything I say and do may become a memory. - Allison Waage
To be a reflection of what I want my daughter to be. My husband and I have asked, Why is she so impatient or why is she yelling at us? Well, we had to take a good look at ourselves. We are her biggest influence, and if we are patient, kind, good-tempered, and happy, then she will be too. - Sarah DeBold
Love Is All You Need
To love everybody. She loves everyone. She says everyone in the world is her family. She also says everyone in the world is her best friend. Her heart is so big. - Kimberly Michelle Bickle Minyard
She loves me no matter what. She doesn't care if I've gained a few pounds, if my hair is a mess, or that I don't wear name brands. She loves me because I cuddle with her when she is sick, kiss her booboos, and play dinosaurs with her. - Ashley Chapman
My children have taught me that love at first sight is possible. - Jennifer Brown-Carlson
Always Enjoy Life
Instead of complaining about a rainy day, go out and jump in the puddles! - Samantha Weidman
The moon is something to celebrate when you see it. Every time my son sees it, he gets so excited and starts saying, "Moon, Momma, da moon." When the moon slips behind clouds, he asks, "Moon, where did you go?" and then he exclaims with joy, "Da MOON!" when he sees it again. This is why I love our nighttime family walks. He even says, "Ni ni moon" when our walk is over and we're heading into the house. - Rea Wilcox-Ball
My children have taught me that Dr. Seuss was by far the smartest philosopher on the planet. He teaches us to lighten up and stop taking ourselves too seriously. - Kim St. John-Stevenson
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