The best part of being a children’s book author is interacting with the kiddos! Recently I have had a chance to have conversations with my little fans in groups and one-on-one. While I would like to think I am teaching them something, it dawned on me recently that it is they who are teaching me!
Not wanting to loose sight of the great lessons my younger fans had taught me, I decided to document some of the most recent ones.
Kiddos may not always focus for very long but when they do, they are completely in the moment. I watched in awe as a group of kiddos built a Lego structure. I must have stood there for what seemed like 10 minutes. I wanted to ask them a question but they were so totally engrossed in building that structure that nothing was going to get their attention. Finally I interrupted and asked them what they were building. The oldest one looked up at me like I had lost my mind and said, “a building.” Einstein I am obviously not. Lesson: These children were completely and utterly focused and in the moment. They were enjoying the task of building walls and having no direction, just building. The simplistic beauty of just building something was not lost on them. Thanks to them, it is not lost on me.
Don’t be afraid to correct someone. A little fan and her brother were engaged in finding the hidden letters in my book. Struggling to find the lower case Z, I showed the girl where it was hidden. “See, it’s hidden in the zebra’s paw” I said. The little girl replied, “Well, actually it’s a hoof because a zebra belongs to the horse family.” This amazing young gal knew her stuff and she did not hesitate to share her knowledge with passion and a confidence that even the most seasoned zoologist would be envious of. Lesson: Never assume someone younger cannot teach you something valuable and be confident in your knowledge, even if it means correcting someone.
Ask questions until you get the information you need. A group of 4th graders and myself had so much fun recently. We created a mock TV show in which they got to showcase a character that they fully developed with a backstory. That day, I was on my 4th workshop so I had worked out most the bugs and things were going smoothly overall. For the 4th time that day, I repeated the instructions and proceeded to walk around the desks as the students dived into their assignment. Stopping by a young boy’s desk, I asked how he was doing. He looked up and launched into a litany of questions. I would answer one, and then another one and they just kept coming. Finally he said he understood and I was dismissed. Lesson: Ask clarifying questions or at least enough that you are comfortable moving forward. Then go for it!
Give honest and respectful feedback. So here I am, at a large event, reading my book. Doing my best to be animated and use voices for the characters. My goal is to transport my listeners to the world of the Zebecs. Finally I’m done and the crowd claps. A little girl with the cutest matching outfit and curly hair comes up to me and says, “I was bored during some of your parts.” Ouch! I must admit that stung a bit but after thinking about it, I did go back and look for ways to improve. In addition, she delivered the feedback honestly but yet compassionately like it was a secret that she felt compelled to tell me. Lesson: Give feedback to others that is designed to help, not hurt and do so rather immediately, during that ‘coachable moment’.
Even the smallest complement goes a long way. The best part is the hugs from my little fans. Just as I was smarting from essentially being told that I needed to work on my out loud reading skills so as not to bore anyone, the same little girl came back up to me and hugged me saying, “you smell good.” Lesson: Giving feedback is amazing, especially if it is accompanied by a positive touch. This little girl is going places!
Take a page out of the Little Zebec’s Cleaning Manual. These kiddos are onto something good! Have you ever asked the kids to clean their room only to find that hours have gone by and they have been playing instead? After you get on them a bit, finally the room is cleaned in record time. Looking under the bed, you see that instead of putting everything away, they have simply pushed the mess out of sight. The kiddos found time for themselves by playing and that big mess, while not perfectly cleaned up…it is out of the way. They have their priorities straight. Lesson: What is the worse that is going to happen if you don’t clean the house perfectly? What is the worse that is going to happen if I don’t fold all the laundry? The answer is I will have more time to play, more time for me (even if it is a few minutes with a good book or a walk around the block). No one, except me, is going to notice if the giant list of to-do’s is not completed but everyone will notice if I run out of energy, if I am unable to be present with the important stuff.
I am continually humbled by what I am learning from the kiddos. As these precious moments transpire, I’m going to continue to capture them hoping that one day, I will be as wise as they are.
What lessons have you learned from the kiddos?
Author, Consultant & Business Expert
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Lisa Baker-King is a nationally recognized and televised author, consultant and coach who is creating a movement connect families, celebrate children and change companies. With over 20 years as a life and business coach, she is passionate about helping families; organizations and small business owners find and pursue their passions with purpose by breaking the rules. Her first children’s book, The Zealous Zebecs from the Midnight Ocean’s Zenith, was released to critical acclaim in June of 2015.