“We have to choose to slow down, to actually see the time and space that we are in…. To truly see people and accept them in their priceless moments.”     —Jodi Hills, artist and writer

We were learning machines once—when we were four.

Children are amazing when it comes to learning. They will play for an hour with a cardboard box—often longer than they spend with the toy that came in it. When they get a new idea, they practice it until they can reproduce it anywhere. Open-closed. Up-down. Soft-hard. They are curious, and they love finding something new that they don’t know.

When we were four, we were also focused with a determination that defied distraction. You might be able to deflect my attention momentarily, but if that remote control is what I want, I will get my hands on it.

This keen sense of focus gave us something then that we struggle now to recapture—awareness. At four, we didn’t have much going on in our minds except discovery and play and practicing a new skill or idea. We were very aware, present, and in the moment.

As a parent, there is a profound way in which you can support young children while they are learning—enjoy them.

Simply stop, observe, and wonder at the children in your life. A friend, Alice, just returned from a trip to New Zealand to visit her daughter, Abi. Abi’s instruction for the trip was simple: Look, Observe, Enjoy.

Notice the last word is Enjoy—which is different from assess and judge, correct, reassure, or anything else. Just Enjoy. Because to really enjoy something, you have to go deeper and appreciate it with all its idiosyncrasies and imperfections. Enjoy leads to real appreciation.

If we can step out of the training, correcting, guiding mode with our children and just observe and enjoy them, it will make a difference. Why? Because they will notice that we are watching. They will sense that we are watching with awe and wonder—that we are truly with them in this time, this place, and this moment.

“In a world where the pace of life is becoming ever faster, we need things to remind us of what life is really all about. To remind us of the meaning of friendship, of the uniqueness of each individual. We need something to give us back our time. Time to reflect. Time to read. Time to write letters. Time to travel. Or simply look at a picture, at the scenery, at a child. Time for beauty, for feelings. Time for the things that really matter.”     —Montblanc advertisement