We often thought that as adults, we should know much more things as compared to young children. Moreover, we were young once and now being adult, with richer life experiences, we are always better and more right from children. There is nothing to learn from them. Instead, they should be learnt from us and followed us as their role models. This is definitely the mindset of many adults.
However, I beg to differ. There are many life lessons that are either long forgotten or suppressed by our own parents as we grow up.
In my personal opinion, we should respect the child’s view (my two kids, 7+ and 4+ years old), listen to their thoughts and learn from them.
Let me share 11 important unexpected Life and Money Lessons that I have learnt from them.
1. You don’t need a lot of money to be happy
As we grow older, we have more and more material want. We want car, nice house, high income/bonus, nice food etc. When your 9 to 5 gives you higher bonus and salary, promotion etc compared to past years, most people will be happy. However, most forget that very often this means higher responsibilities and lesser time left for yourself and your loved ones.
The older I get, the more I realize a happy life need not be costly. In fact, it is free most of the time. A rich life doesn’t need to be expensive. Looking into the beautiful sky while enjoying the breeze in park is free. Just simply holding the hands of your loved one is free.
Most important, guess what your children need most from you while they are young?
Time + Companionship are the most precious things that you can gave to your child, not money. They will never remember how much money/what things that you have given them while they are young, but they will remember the feeling of the together time that you have spent with them.
2. Enjoy NOW and be happy regardless of circumstances
Most of us adult always like to regret past and worry about future, example worrying about paying bills, whether one has enough money for retirement etc (but put it in a very blunt way, are you sure you are still alive at 65 years old to spend your CPF retirement money?).
This is a very common thing. I only truly understand living in the moment only after recent death of my mum (read: Truly understand Living in the Moment now and Farewell Mum. You are always in my mind.)
“You are so anxious about the future that you do not enjoy the present. You therefore do not live in the present or the future. You live as if you are never going to die, and then die having never really lived.”
But to be very honest, to practice it daily and every moment is not easy, especially if one is in a very unfavorable circumstance. However, but my younger girl is constantly living in that way.
She only really thinks about now only. For example, one evening (22 Feb 2023), she wanted to go out and play in the playground, but it was quite late about 6pm plus close to 7 after I picked her from pre-school after work.
We told her that Daddy is tired, and it would be better for us to bring her out tomorrow (23 Feb 2023). Furthermore, tomorrow we can bring her out earlier maybe 4plus or 5 plus. But this suggestion didn’t work. She kicked a big fuss and cried sadly. There is no such thing as delayed gratification in her dictionary. My guess is we also don’t have such “delayed gratification” when we were young, but our society always taught us to plan and think ahead for better future. We have forgotten how to enjoy now.
In the end, I agreed to bring her out. She was so happy at that moment. Enjoy Now not tomorrow!
I brought her to dentist on 15 Feb 2023. This visit is a follow up from past visits where we are monitoring one of her left back teeth with cavity. She is a girl which like sweet things.
During the visit, the dentist informed us that there is “abscess” found above the gums in two of her tooths – her left back teeth (which we were monitoring since months ago) and front tooth. I was told that we are not advised to wait any further. We must extract her front tooth because root of the tooth is already damaged and no point saving. As for her back left tooth, they can try to dig out the cavity and then do crowning as the root of the teeth are still fine. Extraction will take 10-15 minutes whereas the other will take two sessions of 45 minutes each. To young kids (parents will know), it will be very difficult for her to sit still receive treatment and the idea of treatment/extraction terrified her when we are the dentist. I was told to bring her home first and then slowly talk to my child.
But the strange thing is after we leave the dentist to go home, I am the person who keep thinking on how to explain to her, how to make her sit still for two x 45 minutes for dental treatment. Whereas for her, she has totally ignored what dentist had told her (and also what we had explained to her on the same day later), she just focuses on she wants to play, especially today she can skip preschool.
This is truly:
Enjoy NOW and be happy regardless of circumstances
3. Let it go and be free – unrestricted and courageous
As we grow older, we become fearful. We become fearful of how others see us; how well we do in exams/work; fear of not enough money; fear of sickness etc. We lost all our Courages.
But I saw unrestricted courage in both my kids every day.
Take example, in playground, they just jumped down from very tall part of the playground to the floor (should be about 2 meters at least). Wow I remembered many adults during NS are afraid of jumping down while doing SOC.
Learn to Let it go. See this post (Careyourpresent: Frozen. Let it go!) which was written previously.
Many people don’t let their kids play in the rain, but we have allowed and even played with them.
Let it go and be free!
4. Trust and Relationship takes time to build
Many parents consciously or subconsciously will tell their child that they cannot do this, they cannot do that, they must play in this way in the playground etc. but we are not such parents. We told them they can do whatever as they want as long as they are confident in whatever they are doing. If they any help or has anything to ask or even cry/sad after failing and trying, just come and find us, we won’t scold you.
As a result, they trusted us, building great relationship with us. This don’t happen within a day; we been teaching them this way since they were babies. They told us they rather come home as compared to being in school. Trust and relationship take time to build.
This is totally in contrast to my relationship with my parents and my wife with her parents. We rather be in school when we were young because we want to escape home. They don’t trust us at all. Even when I am adult, they don’t trust me to be capable of making my own decision such as riding a bicycle to their house, making a decision on my own etc.
Please empower and give trust to your child. Build real relationship with them.
5. Learn to Play like a Child
Guess what is the full-time job of a child is? PLAY!
Guest what is the full-time job of an adult is? A full-time job!
See the contrast?
When we were young, we just play play play. When we are old, we have forgotten how to fully immerse in play (we know how to take break take leave take vacation to relax and play, but unconsciously or consciously we may not be fully present in playing because we always have thousands of other things in mind).
The main point is play is not just play. Recap and think how you played when you were young. ARE you able to really fully immerse in what you enjoy doing when you are an adult? Recap how a child play,
Recap how you as a child play in the past, learn to fully present in play, clear your mind of other things while you are enjoying doing something.
This is not easy but is something I am trying to learn from young kids.
Learn to play like a child, be fully immerse in things that you really enjoyed instead of what society want you to be.
6. Notice little things
When we walk around every, most of us have lots of things thinking in our mind, we are looking at our phones, thinking about work, thinking about food, thinking about news, thinking about investment etc. But we never stop and observe what is around us?
But the children will. They will stop and notice what are the little creatures in the grass, the leaves, sands, soils etc on the ground.
As we grow older, we only observe big things but forgot about little things. Learn to stop, look and observe little things that are most often ignored/missed/forgotten.
(Don’t just focus on interest rate increasing, little things like money supply are actually decreasing will be the main issue…)
7. Reflect, share your feelings at the end of each day
I didn’t know how to reflect, or should I say didn’t remember that I should reflect my days, months or even years. I was too engrossed with many many other things in life. But my kids truly taught me how to reflect. Recently I have wrote a reflection post (see: Portfolio Update: Feb 2023 and Reflection at half-life (hopefully) mark – 40 Years old)
Every night, my kids like to share with me on what they have experienced in the day on bed. It’s cool to hear from them to learn how they think. Sometime very touching, I remembered that once my son told me he is very happy that he has completed this lego robot today by himself – can hear the proudness in his voice.
We should always learn to reflect our life. It can be every day, once a month or anytime. Just remember to stop and reflect.
8. Love Unconditionally Forgive Readily
Children do this all the time and while many adults say this very few people actually practice this in real life.
As an imperfect parent I have constantly been on the receiving end of this motto.
As much my wife and I aspire to raise our children with respect, patience and love, there are moments of weakness and hurt that we could not overcome, and we let the children down in a variety of ways: we may lose our patience and temper, we may not be able to keep up to every single promises, or there may be hopes and little wishes that we could not afford to keep up. Despite these imperfections, the children always think the best of us, and forgives all our wrongs.
Seeing us after school is still the best part of their day.
Cuddling beside us is still the most fulfilling thing to do.
Spending time with us doing anything, everything, or nothing at all is still their most favorite moments.
No matter if raised our voice moments ago, or if we had to say no to small things, or if we failed to keep a promise.
Love unconditionally, forgive readily.
9. TIME has no reset button and is ticking away as each day passes
“Time has no reset button” is what I used to be saying. (see: Truly understand Living in the Moment now).
But after my mum passed away on 19 Jan 2023. I realised that not only time has no reset button, it is ticking away very fast as each day passes. (see: Farewell Mum. You are always in my mind)
Hence, it is more accurate to say:
Time is ticking away For each passing day You have one less day with your spouse,parents,children,yourself Escape 9 to 5 and be yourself
We always thought we have more time with our old parents, but we are wrong. Time with them is ticking away every day. One day it will suddenly be gone. There is no regret medicine, no reset in time. Gone is gone and cannot come back. No matter you are billionaires or millionaires, you cannot reset this.
We always thought that we have more time with our spouse every day, but we are wrong. One day they will be gone too. When you read this, please go tell your spouse that you love him/her and he or she is the best thing that you ever had in your life.
We always thought that we have more time to play with your kids while they are growing up every day very fast. With a blink of an eye while you are busy hustling away 9 to 5, trying to earn more and more money (maybe you already have enough, but you keep thinking you don’t. Read this post: You will likely never run out of money with 1 million: Expectation vs Reality), they are already so big. They no longer want to play with you. They want to go out with friends. By then no matter how rich you are, 10 millions/10 billions, they still rather go out with friends. You missed it means missed it. There is no reset button.
I realized that I should spend more time with kids and really be present (not just physically present but mind is not present). TIME is TICKING very fast away each day.
I have shared this picture before, let me share again.
10. Don’t need to be bother with other people opinion(s)
To many people, this is a very controversial point. We should be mindful of other people opinion(s), take in good opinion(s) but reject the negative unproductive comment(s). However, as adult, most people will find it hard to differentiate between good/bad comments – in fact many will take it to heart on bad comments while feel complacent/happy over compliment comments.
Let’s look from a child perspective.
Few weeks ago (18 Feb 2023) during weekends, instead of taking bus, my whole family took at long walk 30-60 min to our nearby fire station for a short tour. We treat it as a family bonding walk/exercise.
For those who are not aware,
Members of the public can visit our Fire Station Open House in person. Guided tours are available at the Fire Stations listed below for members of the public on Saturday mornings over two time slots – 9.00am to 9.50am or 10.00am to 10.50am. (Visit SCDF Establishments)
After the kids had fun at the Fire Station, we wanted to walk to a nearby mall for lunch. However, my son complained tired and asked us to carry him (7 years old). I was carrying my daughter, hence my wife decided to piggyback him. After walking passed a park, an elderly auntie saw us and commented “Aiyo, so old already still need people carry!” We ignored that person and continue to walk further down. After some distance away, my wife asked my son “What you do think? Are you affected by what the Auntie said just now?” We thought that our son might feel “paiseh”, hence we wanted to find out how he feels.
But without any hesitation or thinking, he answered, “Why bother with what other people said? Mama carry me, I am happy :)”
As adult we are so wrong, we are always bothered with other people said but 7 years old taught us this important life lesson.
No matter what you do, other people sure got things to comment. Hence, don’t need to be bother with other people opinion!
11. Do what will make you happy
Children always like to do what that will make them happy, best is with no adult interference.
But the truth is often otherwise. Adult likes to put/enforce their thinking/habits into their child. It is very common to see an adult telling a child that he/she should do this and do that instead of this and that that the child actually wanted to do.
As we grow up, the society taught us to do what is the best for the current circumstances not what makes us happy. In the end what happened?
There are lots of sad adults that do things that doesn’t follow their hearts, and, in the end, they are innately sad.
There are lots of child who are always playing and happy everyday provided they have the empowerment and chance to do what they like.
Do what will make you happy, not others happy.
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