How Many Ways am I Like a Child?

I remember being a very aware and joyful child, at two years of age or younger. It’s clear that something happened to me between then and adulthood. How is it that adult life becomes so serious, so burdened, that we constantly look for ways to numb and escape? TV, chocolate, alcohol, work, sex… somehow never recapturing that joyful flow, wisdom, presence and sensitivity of childhood. I like to observe kids, as many adults do. Something in them answers questions in us, even if we don’t know we’re asking. I wonder whether all of the child I was is really lost, or still in there somewhere? I do have a very playful, silly ‘streak’ and don’t mind looking ‘childish’ in public if I’m having harmless fun, like doing slippery-shoe slides along the shopping mall floor, or hanging out of a nice tree.

But I notice with some sadness that what’s classed as ‘fun’ by many adults is harmful of themselves and others. It seems the definition of a good weekend can be: how destroyed by alcohol your brain and body is by Monday morning, or how many videos you watched, or whether you’re in pain from an overstuffed stomach at a smorgasbord, or whether you ‘scored’ in a night club, or how ache-y you are from too much hard work in the gym, house and garden…. To me, none of these feel like the flowing joys of childhood. Why should ‘simple and healthy’ be associated with children, whilst ‘complicated and harmful’ are associated with adulthood?

I’ve been doing some observational experiments to look at these questions: How do children do things, and how much like a kid am I really?

I’ve been observing children and puppies (just 4-legged kids!) in the streets, shopping centres and friends’ homes… not in a passive, purposeless way, but with more focus and conscious attention. What can I learn from children (and dog children) that I seem to have forgotten?

Without writing an in-depth scientific article, here are just some of my science diaries of what this personal experiment is revealing to me.

1. Of Wagging Puppies

I drop off a parcel at a stranger’s front door. On the other side of the screen I suddenly notice a black puppy, almost invisible in the dark interior, and not making a sound. The puppy is wagging his whole body, eyes looking into mine.

It’s the same with puppies being led along the beaches and roads – big, waggy hellos with no fear, no questions, just pure openness, love, acceptance and joy. It is connection with no judgment. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you look like or what mood you’re in… and it brings an instant glow to the heart of practically everyone around.

That feels like me, the way I am on the inside: I’d rather smile and ‘wag’ at everyone I meet! Then I find I can become inhibited by a person’s facial expression and body language, and the judgments that get in the way of that total loving connection. “Stuff.” Not really me. It seems that somewhere along the way from childhood to adult, I became loaded with stuff that is not natural to me, and transformed into an ‘adult’ that bears not enough resemblance to the loving, accepting, little child I was!

2. The Neighbours Drop In

Neighbourhood children, a brother and sister about 5 and 7 years old, appear on my verandah on the day I move into a new house. They chat with me through the screen door as I unpack – they feel able to be safe with a total stranger, and talk about their joys, fears, loves, and games; they express all of themselves, as they are, with no holding back. I feel I want to be like that. What stops me?

3. Any Excuse, Including Hats

I walk into the local laundromat to pick up my laundry. It’s cold and rainy and I am rugged up. I notice the only other person in the room, a young girl about 11 years old, sitting on a seat waiting for the family laundry. Her unusual, fluffy, knitted beanie is identical to mine, except a slightly lighter colour. I feel no hesitation in smiling and saying playfully: “Hey, your beanie and mine are related!” and she smiles back with equally no hesitation and tells me about her beanie.

There was no attachment or expectation or awkwardness, just a pure, simple, loving, fun exchange between two equal human beings, and then we both went on with our business. If she had been an adult, there is a strong chance that there would have been some trepidation, some judgment, like: “What does she want from me? Why is she approaching me?” and a sense of boundaries being transgressed. Though not always. And I notice that the guarded kind of response from strangers, in general, is decreasing these days… something is happening… I’m changing, other people are changing, opening up somehow. Have you noticed this?

4. Welcome, When You’re Ready

A friend’s 8 year-old daughter, upon seeing me for the first time in half a year, tilts her head so that one eye is peeping out from under her hair, and rocks her shoulders from side to side. I’ve noticed children do this a lot but never thought about it. Now, because I’m in ‘scientist mode’, I suddenly see that this is a sensitive, playful way to get someone’s attention without being imposing or threatening, or ‘in your face’. It is basically saying: “I am really seeing you, but showing you that I am respectfully letting you see that I am inviting you to connect with me when you are ready.” Sensitivity to where others are at, and bringing them out of themselves to connect… gorgeous! How much we adult dudes can learn from this kind of wise, gentle approach to each other!

5. Oops, Not Mum, But It Didn’t Matter A Moment Ago

A busy shopping mall. A child is lost (but doesn’t know it yet) and I feel a small hand slipping into mine. I look down to see the child assuming (without looking up) that I’m his mum. I watch, staying quiet and steady. We walk along, then the child apparently feels my eyes on him and looks up, getting a shock to see that I’m not his mum.

I can see that children naturally trust and feel at home in crowds of strange people and in physical contact with them, but they have been taught not to. He was quite happy until he looked up and realised his ‘mistake’. Don’t we feel, like the child, that we could take anyone’s hand and feel safe in the connection with another human being? And if not, why not? Has that trust been pressured out of us?

6. Mirroring Babies

A young child sits in a high chair in a restaurant with her food in front of her. But instead of eating, she is manipulating her mother emotionally – putting on a cry face and wailing every time her mother turns away from her to the shop assistant. I could feel that she was faking, and that surprised me in one so young. So I sat and silently observed her just as she is, not reacting, not judging, not ‘trying to help’. She became aware of me catching her in her strategy. She could see that I could see what she was doing and there was a part of her that did not like to be exposed. She spun away from my eyes and resumed her behaviour. But she was drawn back several times to the silent reflection I was offering, and became still and silent herself in those moments even though she chose to return to her performance.

How young to be already in that game! How do we as adults use victim / tragedy / pain / emotion to make others relate to us in the way we think we want? But we do know it’s false and we feel ‘sprung’ when someone sees through it… So why do we keep doing it?

7. Mirroring Part 2

I had a similar experience when ‘mirroring’ every expression (facial, words, cries, tantrum body language) of a 4 year-old boy at a party, who was similarly using emotion and distressing behaviour to force attention from his mother. When he noticed me and saw what I was doing, he became intrigued at the reflection of himself. But he would alternate between watching my reflection of him and avoiding it – part of him did not want the truth, but wanted to keep running his ‘program’. Eventually he was fascinated, seemingly against his own will – a pull to self-reflection which we all have – then came the ‘aha’ moment when he consciously saw how untrue and manipulative his behaviour was. I could see and feel his shock of recognition, and his realisation that he did not like being that way. He abruptly stopped and came back to himself. Then he walked over to his mother and calmly and respectfully asked her for what he wanted. She turned gracefully with the stress gone from her, heard him, connected with him, gave him what he wanted and they were together in harmony thereafter…

I could imagine that child’s life might never be the same after that experience of awareness and choice. The neurobiologists state that even a few seconds of experience can ‘hard-wire’ a child’s brain for life. Could non-judgmental, understanding, un-imposingly offered, truthful reflection, be the greatest gift we could bring to any child? And to any adult?!

8. Flow And Synchrony

I’ve been watching children playing in groups: in their movements, sounds and all expressions, kids flow like flocks of birds, swirling water, the wind in trees… There is a free rhythm that is in stark contrast to the way an adult’s day usually goes with all its constricted structures and time pressures.

Yet watching the kids, I can feel my inner self flowing along with them and it makes more sense. I want to live like that. I don’t mean irresponsible and not carrying out my duties as an adult, but doing ‘adult things’ without the sense of burden, seriousness and mechanical disconnection. Doing things within the flow and connection of the whole. Why not? Suddenly there is fear; that I will be seen as reckless and irresponsible. That I will ‘lose the plot’ and my life become disordered and out of control. That other adults, grudging along with their burdens, will become jealous and start to single me out. That there will be consequences… Oh boy!

I remember learning in the brain anatomy lab that this kind of negative apprehension-fear of consequences thing comes from prior punishments affecting a region of our brain called the orbital cortex, which is heavily involved in our emotional reactions. So once again, it was programming that began who knows how early in childhood, and was constantly topped up by parents, school, society… Gosh – we have a lot of ‘undoing’ to do!

9. Doing vs Being

A 10 year-old child, who is behaving cruelly to others and having difficulties in his relationships, is sitting on the floor in front of me. He has not greeted me, nor met my eyes. But he knows I love him, that I live my love to the best of my ability. I can feel he is using what he is doing – spreading books over the floor on a particular subject and then studying them intently – in hope that ‘what he is doing‘ will draw my attention to him because he is afraid of ‘what he is when he is being‘ himself. He doesn’t yet have the awareness to be his real amazing self and has instead identified with his scary, lashing-out, angry self. His current experience is being accepted and validated by what he does, instead of by who he is – at 10 he already has this burden of adulthood.

However, there’s another side to this situation: by choosing to not dump his anger on me, he is expressing his love for me in his own way. I understand that he finds it easier and safer to be withdrawn so that he doesn’t lash out; that he does not yet have the confidence to connect to the real him. But the mere fact that he restrains his usual anger and chooses his own way to express love, means that he does recognise love, and wants to let me know it. One day it will blossom in him and shine out for all to see, of that I am sure!

10. Silliness And Dignity

I was at a big birthday party for a 5 year-old child. Everyone was outside on an acre of mowed grass with a hired clown. The clown was a young guy and he really knew how to be a kid, with kids’ humour. He had the children riveted, involved, leaping around with him. Most of the humour was not at the level of ‘sophistication’ of adult humour. But watching the adults (lined up side-by-side like an audience at a concert) I could see that they all related to it from their ‘inner child’ and would have joined in, silly as can be, if it were ‘permissible’. But it’s not acceptable to enjoin childish humour directly in public (just too embarrassing, too undignified) so the adults did the usual, indirect, acceptable performance of enjoying the children’s responses!

Kids find humour in the silliest, simplest things, run with it unashamedly, share it with others who also resonate with it, until everyone is in peals of laughter. Then, unattached, they suddenly let go and move on when the feeling has run its course. Like those flocks of birds, they are in synchrony with something invisible flowing through every moment…

I ‘get’ the silliness, but have spent much of my life as an extreme introvert. Now it’s silly scientist come-out time. Now I ‘risk all’ and relate to people, even strangers, in the streets and shops and serious places and on the phone. I love to play silly with people… anyone. A rare few meet me with walls of suspicion and disdain, but most melt immediately and come on board, letting their own inner child out to have some fun!


This is a very haphazard, poorly controlled experiment by ‘scientific standards’, but wow – the useful observations it has provided!

I feel there is a science to observing and tracing the inner and outer incongruities, assisted by watching children (and animals), and relating what is seen to our adult selves. Paying attention and making intentional observations – of anyone (including ourselves) – being true to nature and in the universal flow of life, may be the key to a return to a simpler, fulfilling and loving way of being.

By Dianne Trussell, BSc Hons, Science & Health Writer & Educator

Related Reading:
The Natural Love Of A Child
Hanging Out to Simply Be Me
God. It’s a Science

Related Tags: Serge Benhayon Teachings















759 thoughts on “How Many Ways am I Like a Child?

  1. ..what’s classed as ‘fun’ by many adults is harmful of themselves and others.” This is so true Diane, adult ‘fun’ often involves abusing our bodies in one way or another or is at the expense of others. And when we do have innocent fun we are told we are being childish. I do not take the latter as an criticism anymore rather a compliment of returning to what is a natural expression.

  2. We can learn so much about ourselves by observing children, I like you Dianne was amazed how quickly children learn to manipulate to get what they want and how easily we can, if not fully observant fall for it, but this is no different to how we then do the same as adults.

  3. “How do children do things, and how much like a kid am I really?” Observing the interactions of those around us can be as revealing as observing the contents of a petri dish.

  4. “Don’t we feel, like the child, that we could take anyone’s hand and feel safe in the connection with another human being?” – This openness and willingness to connect without judgement really does define that child-like quality that we are looking to return to, and also just how much we adults have attempted to nullify that same openness by imposing our own forms of protection and hurts on our children, thus shutting it down and causing doubt and suspicion to creep in.

  5. A tour do force of the power of observation… not just in being able to feel what is truly going on, but that others can feel the reflection and it starts to have an impact on their choices. It is ‘scientific proof’ (haha) that its not about what we do that makes a difference, but the quality of our being.

  6. Reconnecting to the child within and reparenting ourselves allows for a deepening of love which can filter through to all our relationships.

  7. Yes allowing yourself to feel that child-like nature that is within all of us is incredibly liberating, and such a beautiful thing to do and to feel… It brings with it that innate sense of innocence which is simply beautiful.

  8. Its funny how we use the term ‘stop acting childish’ in a bad way and yet we don’t ever say ‘stop acting adultish’ because we perhaps don’t want to see all the things we do as an adult that actually is not the true us. If I look at my toddler – I see how she opens up to everyone – talking to them, saying hello, interested in the world – and yet I look at adults who are shut down and protected and its sad that we accept this as OK.

  9. A recent TV documentary featured an experiment which invited 4 and 5 year old children to befriend elders in a residential care home. It was beautiful to see how the children’s openness, broke down resident’s defenses and brought light back into their eyes. They walked more, some danced, sang and played silly games. More so, they began to communicate and open up themselves in ways they hadn’t done for years. Children are natural healers.

  10. I was in a lift the other day and a baby about six months old cocooned in his mother’s harness looked up at me and smiled from the depths of his being and I received a healing. I asked myself what is being reflected here? And was given a glimpse of what it is to simply be, completely at one with self and universe and the potential we have to heal others when we are this way.

  11. There is a great deal to be said in favour of observing life and looking to see what is happening underneath the surface. This is a sadly rare activity for us human’s, we mostly prefer to stick our head in the sand and make out we didn’t see what we saw or didn’t feel what we felt.

  12. Lately I am finding that I am still like a child when I allow myself to be. I have had a couple of accidents, where I responded like the adult, very sensibly and keeping it all together to take care of the other people and practical things. But when I let myself, I could feel the shock in my body and felt quite vulnerable. This actually felt quite beautiful. The pulling ourselves together denies the feelings and stops us from simply responding honestly as we would have as a child.

  13. I recently had a 7 year old in the back of my car and asked them to do up their seatbelt. They were taking a while and then I heard this tremendous laugh when they realised they had been putting their seat belt in the wrong section – ‘for the WHOLE time!’. They thought it was hilarious. I learnt so much from that moment and continue to be inspired to laugh when I am doing some thing wrong for the WHOLE time!

  14. I like the connection to the puppy and how dogs do not hold back but allow their joy to be expressed when they see someone. I notice that I often hold this back and try to gauge how the other person will be with me before I determine how I will be with them. However, when someone is like the puppy, totally not holding back their joy in seeing you, it is hard not to melt.

  15. ” This is a very haphazard, poorly controlled experiment by ‘scientific standards’, but wow – the useful observations it has provided! ”
    For me this is the best ” controlled ” experiment I have ever read , for its got the best and most truthfull ” control ” in that it comes from the heart, thank you.

  16. It is very interesting how we keep re-creating the life that is serious and burdened and needs constant relief, and all we have been doing is morphing ourselves in order to fit into the formula of life that is serious and burdened, and giving up the simple joy and carefreeness we start our life with. Like, what did we expect?

  17. Each one of your points could be discussed in detail I have to say! The Orbital cortex, where the fear of consequences comes from can really paralyse us. Those negative experiences which take away love – which is a basic human need, becomes seen as a potentially life threatening situation in the brain. If only we knew the power we had and were more responsible in our expression – perhaps this is the blog to inspire us all!

  18. I too am like a dog wagging its tail with every new person I meet, or old person I have met before actually! I often note this in myself and see that it can be liked and something that pushes buttons. What you have helped me appreciate is it is a positive. It makes me smile when I am met with that and I now see others feel the same. I just have to read what level of this expression is appropriate! Not turning my light down, or wagging my tail less but letting it shine without being in someones face about it.

    1. Love that, and love your enthusiasm for life Lucy – we should never let the response from others mean that we reduce ourselves… better to express our natural delight than to be tricked into playing someone else’s game.

  19. Great observations, it is opening my mind to the possibility of what is there to observe every day. How children naturally do this, feel their joy, but see in full what is there around them.

  20. In a healing session this year I really felt the natural joy and playfulness I had as a child and was shocked at how much it had been suppressed as I grew up into an adult. So now I am working on giving myself permission again to have that joy and light heartedness as an adult even though when I look around me it is not the norm to be like this as an adult. Maybe this why we seek the other self destructive complex behaviours as adults. Perhaps because deep down we miss our natural joy and lightness of being?

  21. I love observing children. In my volunteer work in a local primary school each child has a different way of expressing – some are ‘approved of’ by the teacher, some not. But every single one responds to being met with love and attention. I feel privileged to have them on a one to one basis – and every one of them wants that!

  22. I was working with some teachers recently, and we know that teachers lives are usually pretty intense… I was inviting the teachers to come up with me to play and sing in front of the children… It was very interesting some to even considered the prospect of being silly and having fun in front of the kids. Being a silly is one of the most wonderful things that we can do as an adult.

  23. Kids say it how it is and express from their body. They do not indulge like us adults but once expressed they’re off to what is next even if it is sleep time! I agree children are in sync with the universe and I am beginning to realise more than ever my responsibility as a parent through the connection to myself to support my children and others as they get older to feel this connection to themselves and to everything regardless the choices they choose to make.

  24. Yes we lose something so precious and then spend our lives putting up with the substitutes which never deliver. Great to stop and reflect on what quality of life we truly want for ourselves…

  25. There is no reason why we have to do things with burden or seriousness and yet we do … but we can be light, observing children they are very focused on what they do until they’re not and they just let go, there is a flow to it and we too can live this as adults. Great observations here to remind us that we do not have to be those rigid, burdened adults many of us can become, we can be light and open and live with the joy we are.

  26. As adults, many of us tend to live from our heads thereby introducing complexity and seriousness into our lives which squashes the joy and spontaneity that so many children naturally have, through living with whole body awareness.

  27. I love what you offer here for public on this blog. Myself, I am very playful, innocent in my reactions towards funny situations and people. It is really smoothing to read, that this is OK . That it does not mean being immature but in your natural essence and because of that confirmation I will even volume my expression up !

  28. What this great blog presents us with is the playfulness is at the heart of a true scientist who is ready to observe life and to spot movement and that thanks to this, there is a lot we can learn/confirm about what is true about us.

  29. There is so much inspiration in watching children’s movements… It reflects me the transparency in which one day I lived and the space I can come back to, living and enjoying the simplicity of life

    1. Adults always think it is the cuteness of a child or puppy from the outer appearance that they love. It is much more the energy of innocence and openness, that they enjoy and miss in their own life.

  30. Life can easlily become serious and mundane when we live from our heads, it is through our connection to our bodies and quality of movments that we can once again embrace the joy natural within ourslevs.

  31. Dianne it’s a joy to read this again, thank you. This is a gorgeous and very true line about children, that there is a “joyful flow, wisdom, presence and sensitivity of childhood”. I was delighted to feel that I too have returned to this, not always but it’s largely there, and getting more so.

  32. Why should ‘simple and healthy’ be associated with children, whilst ‘complicated and harmful’ are associated with adulthood? I love this question because it is so true. For many long years my life was filled with complication and struggle and I was always searching outside of myself to better my life. Only since attending Universal Medicine courses and presentations I have let go of ( healed and cleared) so much old stuff in the way of old habits and behaviours that kept me stuck and in the struggle….that today I can say my life is so much simpler and filled with purpose and meaning. And when complication tries to sneak back in, my go to is: Keep Things Simple!

  33. Dianne your comment of ‘what’s classed as ‘fun’ by many adults is harmful of themselves and others’ really caught my attention for your wise words cannot be denied. The question is why would we and do we harm ourselves or others under the guise of fun?

  34. We all seem to be operating with a ‘joy deficit’, as if the well ran dry once we hit a certain age. But it feels like joy is an essential part of our well being, so it’s recovery is essential – for our recovery.

  35. Dianne, reading your lighthearted fun blog I am becoming aware of the importance of allowing my inner child to come out to play…. if us adults allowed this on a more regular basis I am sure our world would be a more joyful harmonious place for us all to live in.

  36. So true – we often think having fun would have consequences, don’t we? I wonder how that is so. What do we qualify ‘fun’? Are we the adults really having fun when we think we are having ‘fun’?

  37. We do not take the time each day to connect to that wonderment we had as children, it is an innocence and love that knows no bounds. We could all learn a lot from reconnecting to those child like qualities that can support us very much in our day to day adult lives.

  38. Just the other day I was taking a plastic bag off the roll at the supermarket, along with a couple of other women. One was having a little time of it getting it to open and a comment was made between the three of us. So I offered my tip of how to separate the edges and assist with hers. She then asked me another very harmless question, which I answered and she finished with apologising for asking. It was really a stop moment to ponder why having a little chat at the ‘market’ can be considered anything but a moment to share a super simple connection with another.

    1. It is quite sad, that people are so far away from being connected and open with other people, that even a super harmless situation led them to apologise. Even more important to live this in a normality, that they experience, that nothing is wrong with that. And that it is the greatest joy to meet in this way with a total stranger. You got nothing to lose, but an irritated reaction, that does not need to irritate you. Sticking out your head can be some irritation, without that though, nothing would change.

  39. As adults we like to invite complication into our lives- it almost becomes like an addiction with no end, if we could only take a moment to reflect and reconnect to that innocence we once knew when young then we would be able to understand that life is simple and there is magic all around us to remind us of the wonder that lives within us all.

    1. Yes Francisco and there are reflections of that magic everywhere aren’t there? The complication we are addicted to is like putting glasses on that filter magic out but I can now see we take that pattern of behaviour, what we think is the easier way out by embracing complication because we don’t feel we have the skills to deal with what is to come.

    2. It’s true Francisco… It really is such a lovely thing to return to that simplicity, to understand that we can actually live life in a simple way, even whilst doing extremely complex things… We can keep the essence simple.

    3. Beautiful Francisco, it’s like giving ourselves permission to let go of the control and all we have let get in the way and simply be silly again. A wise man once said the path of return to soul needs lots of silliness.

  40. It reminds me walking outside and then a small girl around 3 years old saw me from far. She was walking with her mom. She started to run towards me, letting go her moms hand. she just didn’t stop running to me as in the flow of love she felt. I just felt my heart wide open. But then when se came close I felt she wanted to jump on me and then I went into my head. may be the mother doesn’t like that? I don’t know her… Just that thought made em go out of my flow of my heart. The child stopped her movement instantly and also went into her thinking and there she stopped and waited for mom….

    What will happen of we all stay in the flow of our heart.

    1. Wow Sylvia, this is deeply beautiful. In love we know each other and can be ourselves, but the intelligence we currently use in separation from the heart truly separates us.

  41. There is a very big difference between being child-like and being childish. Being child-like is to carry the innocence and lightness of the child with us throughout our life and being childish is to avoid responsibility for our life.

  42. I recently got to see a whole load of photos of myself and my family when I was a young child – what struck me was how much there was to appreciate and how well socialised I was to use a phase you might use for a puppy. As you say, joyful and carefree a lot of the time and we tend to forget this once we shut down as we get older.

  43. “How is it that adult life becomes so serious, so burdened, that we constantly look for ways to numb and escape?” This statement Dianne is a sad inditement on our modern society which children are slowly drawn and indoctrinated into. I am inspired by your messages to reconnect to the child within and children in general.

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