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Early childhood, specifically the first 1000 days of life, are extremely important in shaping lifelong consequences for your health & well-being. Social Learning case studies, such as Bandura, have provided evidence on how receptive children are to information and how their perceptions at that prime age build key values of their future life. In other words, the child in you is the one that builds the foundation for your adult life, and potentially knows more about you than what you as an adult think you know.
If you ever look at the world from a child’s point of view, you can recognize the innocence and wonderment that they carry. As they learn from their environment and shape their own understanding of this big world, they also discover and craft some of your most intrinsic needs that help you grow. From a 5 year olds point of view, much of what they perceive is to be in their best interest. For instance, going outside to play will result in them being happy, going to bed will result in being well-rested and energized for the following day. This full-of-life attitude and optimism is only ever found and enriched in this beautiful phase of childhood. The funny thing is kids want so eagerly to become adults when actually the purest and most wholesome time of your life is your childhood. Additionally, the interesting thing is that we don’t remember all of it, which makes it even more special as our adult brain can’t intellectualize or rationalize it.
In a digitally advanced world, as parents we have the liberty to begin shaping children into well-behaved, educated social beings from an even earlier stage than recommended. And, there is no evidence that excessive stimulation and pushing a young child to learn beyond their interest, capabilities and developmental maturity will increase their intellectual capacity. However, the fact that this action amuses me and makes me wonder that more than the need to have children grow up, it’s the adults who are seeking to cater to their own child instincts.
Happiness in a nutshell
As a child, our gratification system is so simple that happiness seems like it’s right around the corner. Happiness is a feeling which is destined, not craved. It is abundantly available from several resources and very few things or people have the power of taking it away from you. The 5 year old thinks there is good in everyone and even when they see the bad, they still live in the good. Getting over things and feeling good is easy and the best way to live is in the now.
According to recent studies, once survival, safety and basic comforts are assured, external circumstances don’t affect our happiness level much. The largest determinant of our happiness turns out to be our own mental, emotional, and physical habits, which create the body chemistry that determines our happiness level. If these very habits are formed as a child, then how do we grow up to be less happier than our child selves?
Some answers would include maturity, learning about the atrocities in the world, traumatic experiences and various social encounters. But ultimately that foundation has a huge part to play in order to lead into our adult lives with that same exhilaration and challenges. Unfortunately, many of us grow up thinking that our child self was the embarrassing one, the naive one, when in fact the adult version is often more of a disappointment in terms of the way we face obstacles.
As we age, we don’t just grow up and mature into overgrown children wearing pants and talking about smart things. We become more and more distant from the things that make us feel alive in the now and focus predominantly on the things that we do for our future goals and what we aspire to become. As children, we live vicariously through the small things that make us happy momentarily without care for the consequence, fear of losing this happiness or wanting more of it.
Growing up is part of life and there’s no escaping it. Often when we face trauma or experience difficult situations, we find ourselves captivated by thoughts and anxieties that make us wonder what it is that life is essentially taking away from us in all the growth and positive accolades we achieve. It is precisely that our inner child is becoming overshadowed further & further away. The inner child’s voice is being silenced with all the overbearing noise of the others, the adults, the intellects and other social constructs that help us become rational beings. The key to finding what makes us happy is essentially tapping into that inner child and reminding ourselves that no matter how old we get and what experiences take place, that child remains and exists within us as an anchor to our true purpose and unconditional self-love.
Winter, P. (2010). Engaging families in the early childhood development story. South Australia: Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs.
An expat in Dubai who loves engaging with diverse people and having honest conversations about life, through her blog- Egoiste Life. As a passionate artist, Manahil spends most of her weekends writing about the world, reading poetry and creating adventurous memories with the people she loves.