Earlier this week I shared a quote about squirrels, An Exacting Life left a comment which read:

I wonder why is it that when animals follow their instincts, they provide for themselves, but when we follow our instincts a sort of “party mentality” takes over and we forget about tomorrow.

I am currently reading Affluenza (which is very different from the documentary), and knew I would like this book when the first pictures in the book were reprints of photographs in Material World.  Tonight I ended with a section which research showed (I am paraphrasing) people are unhappy and depressed when their lives revolve around earning money but are happier when they are in service or doing something they find rewarding for no monetary gain.

Tonight my grandson asked if he could spend the night with me.  We had some quality time before bed, but once settled in he asked me what we were going to do tomorrow.  I replied it depended on the weather. If it was still raining we would have an indoor day, but if nice we could go for a walk and he could play outside.

Sleeping soundly after telling me he was ready for sleep

Sleeping soundly after telling me he was ready for sleep

He then asked what I  had for him to do if we had to stay inside.  When asked what he wanted to do he replied he wanted to sand and asked if I had anything he could sand. I do, of course. Then he said he wanted to read.  He also wanted to know what we would have to eat, after which he quickly fell asleep.

This got me thinking.  If small children want to know what tomorrow will bring, and want to be doing something productive, when do we lose that natural instinct?

I think Exacting Life  got only one small part of her comment wrong.  I believe it is only the adults who forget how to listen to their basic instincts.  A young child will stop eating when full,  will lay down or ask to go to bed when tired most of the time, and a child wants to be doing something all the time.

What do you think?  When do we forget to follow the basic instinct to have just enough?


24 thoughts on “

  1. Babies are examples of humanity totally in harmony with their bodies, the slightest discomfort they cry. As people get older I think they are conditioned to separate themselves from their bodies until they are no longer aware. The most extreme type of separation from body is those who have suffered trauma, who disassociate into derealisation and depersonalisation.


    • Very accurate, Alex. Babies and very young children are very much in tune with their bodies and its needs. I know there have been plenty of times when my grand children have wanted a piece of cake after dinner, but are so full that one or two bites is all they need to be satisfied that they were able to have a treat.


  2. Gee I think of Buddy Boy when I read this! Everyday he wants to do important jobs like raking, collecting wood, washing dishes….. You’re so right! When does this change? Do materialistic parents and advertising destroy the way children think? Thought provoking. What productive job can I do tomorrow and what will my next meal be? Very basic thoughts.


  3. Oh so smiling here, so many similarities here… I worked full time while Hubby worked around the children, We never spoiled them as in buying too many toys etc, as we never had the money… I think I told you of the cardboard dolls house and Fort I made? one lean Christmas, which both remember to this day!.. My one passion was books, and I belonged to a book club for a while and I used to order some great Childrens stories with Pop-up pictures.. These were respected and they never misused them or tore them..
    I remember giving them to one of my sisters years later as her children grew up, she promised to take care of them, much to my dismay one visit I saw them in shreds in the toy box…
    Children are VERY intelligent and learn behaviours very quickly and if they learn to get what they want in a certain way they will repeat it again…
    Im smiling at your Granddaughter Whining!… my own has tried this and I tell her you are at Grandma’s now not at home and here your whines won’t work… She changes as quick as the wind! LOL .,, I am so enjoying Grandparenting! :-)


    • Our similarities are striking. Yes, books were very important in my house. I never had to worry about a child damaging one but like you when loaned out they came back in damaged condition too many times, and angered my boys who couldn’t understand why someone would treat a book like that.

      I love your story about the dolls house and the fort. I hope your children make something like that for their children.

      Isn’t it funny how easily a child gets that we won’t give in to whining? My grand-daughter switched her attitude as quickly as yours did.


  4. A very good question… Its a difficult one to answer.. Like you when I grew up I was taught to eat what was on my plate or go hungry, and being the eldest of 5 children if you didnt eat it there were plenty more siblings who would clean off your plate!. My Granddaughter is 2 and puts her knife and folk down and says ‘enough now mama’ so she knows when shes full..
    Picking up on Lynns point about children accepting Truth… if parents or grandparents said so it must be true… I remember this one well…
    When I first started school maybe I was 5 or 6 My mum told me I was born under a gooseberry bush… Yes.. and I stuck my best friend out about that, as No way did I come from my Mums tummy!… because my Mum said I was born under a gooseberry bush!….. LOL… so remember this as I was so upset to find out my Mum lied! LOL..

    I think we have to keep our childrens minds active and enquiring, not fobbing them off or sitting them in front of a TV screen where they shut off.. Getting caught in the world of subliminals which dumb them into the surreal world which often is their first connection to violence as the cartoons hit and bash zap and Boom!….

    I dont know what the real answer is Lois.. But too many young parents have children today and this is going to sound awful but as a means to an end… meaning they can get benifits and housing etc… And then many today are left to entertain themselves… Children like to be interactive, and stimulated… When they are bored then behaviours set in….

    I just know I put alot into my children even though I was a working Mum, spending quality time is important. But learning them to respect others and things, and that they cant have everything they want… Far too many throw tantrums expecting to get what they want.. Also learning to Listen to their needs .. We each learn as we go along, no correct text book is there.

    Lets hope they are all strong willed and determined because they are all going to need their wits about them for they are our Future! and what a sad inheritance we are leaving them

    great post ~Sue


    • Your mom was too funny, under a bush? I would have been upset after learning the truth as well. My youngest was furious for years after learning their wasn’t a Santa because I lied. He lectured me about how I could ask him to always be honest when I wasn’t. Blew me away.

      We are leaving them a sad inheritance, from denatured foods and food-like substances, to polluted waters and even mass debt from our governments.. and on and on.

      I agree that too many have children for the benefits, but I also see around my area young girls having babies to have something of their own or to hold on to a boyfriend. I personally know one girl who had a child just because she knew the daddy would be able to pay a large amount of child support so she wouldn’t have to work.

      As for TV, I think the Television has been a babysitter for way too many years. My own boys saw this around them when they were growing up and I think it’s getting worse.

      Like you, I worked while raising my boys, it was tough to schedule, but I made sure that sitters were rare and I was the one to teach them the lessons they needed to learn and give them my full attention. Raising children isn’t easy and it’s only going to get harder.

      I think it’s great when parents like your daughter understand to not push more food when a child says they are full, but too many aren’t getting proper foods and our families are more the exception than the rule.

      I don’t remember having to do much to teach my children to value other people’s things. One I do remember was my eldest son wanting to touch every car as he passed in a parking lot. I saw him touch the first car and stopped to ask him if he would like it if people touched his things without asking. He stopped and I never had to have that discussion again. But at the same time they were raised close to nature and we cared for the birds protecting nests and so on so I think respecting things comes from many experiences they encounter.

      On the subject of tantrums, only my grandson throws them and there is a reason behind it. My grand-daughter recently began to whine to get her own way, I asked her the other day if she was whining, and told her I didn’t like whining and she wouldn’t get what she wanted that way. She smiled said okay, then asked for what she wanted. So far no further problems with whining. So yes, we do need to take the time to explain appropriate behaviors.


  5. I think children, especially young children, are more honest and matter of fact “about the facts of life”.

    If they see that one must reclaim/sand off/refinish a table before they have a table to colour on, then that is what they expect… and they are surprised to hear of other things.

    Young children are also rather matter of fact about accepting the “truth” of adults they trust.
    If Mom/Dad/Grandma said it, it must be so. And young children will try to fit what they are told into exactly where they are..I mean physically where they are at the moment…
    Part of a young child’s asking questions about their environment/what they can or will be doing after their sleep/nap/rest, (I believe), is them establishing a secure environment
    for themselves. (yes adults seem to forget this basic)..


    • I think you are right, Lynn. Children enjoy a routine and while picking up toys isn’t top of their priority list, they do want to learn they are like little sponges. They want to cook, rake, garden, and find their place in the world.

      Children aren’t born to be materialistic, they enjoy exploring and getting dirty and can spend hours trying to master something. It’s only as they grow and see that mom’s favorite past time is shopping or watching hours of TV that they will follow suit as that’s what they learn.

      So the question remains, how to we preserve the natural tendencies into adulthood?


      • okay, so here is a funny story, re Children / picking up toys / learning what they see etc..
        my son was about four or five, and had a little girl over to play/same age. came time they wanted to quit the toys (all over the floor) and do something else, I said, “okay, first put everything in the boxes..”

        well, first the little girl said she had to go to the bathroom..(okay then)..my son sort of waited for her to return, I am sure to do her share …

        she was gone FOREVER…

        my son sort of looked at her/looked at toys/ when she came back…then announce he had to go to bathroom…
        and was gone FOREVER

        this went on several times…until the girl’s mom phoned it was time for her to come home for supper.. I said,”oh, sure, as soon as the toys are picked up”…(other Mom had no idea what was going on..but said sure”

        well, after that phone call, the little girl and my son looked at each other a few times/little girl announced she was hungry..and gosh golly ..they got to work and cleaned up in about a minute..


  6. That’s a very complicated question that I’m going to have to think about for a while. Children need and want boundaries (rules) that we have to provide for them because they are not developmentally ready to live in the world from the beginning. For example, while they will stop eating when they are full, they won’t necessarily chose the best foods for themselves until they have enough experience to realize that a diet of junk food leaves them feeling bad. There are a lot of subtle things also. For example, it’s not until kids are 10-12 that they developmentally understand that they usually can get a chore like homework done faster by just doing it rather than spending time complaining about it. And the list goes on.

    And why we ignore some of these lessons as adults, I don’t know. I think it has something to do with with instant gratification filling a need that is not being met somewhere else. Like I said, I am going to have to think about this for a while. Thanks for providing a some food for thought today.


    • All great points, Live and Learn, I agree with you that children need boundaries and do crave them, but even with those boundaries I believe they have an understanding of what they need. Even when my boys were teens they preferred fruit and salads to chips, and my grand children even as early as when the start to eat solid foods will gravitate to the whole, real foods over the junk. Recently I’ve seen this in two of my grand children, one was offered the choice of chicken nuggets and fries (from home) and insisted she wanted avocado and apples. Another situation one was offered a cookie from the bakery and refused it asking instead for an apple.

      You mentioned homework, that is a great example. When my boys attended school they hated their homework. They already had mastered the material and saw it as a waste of their time. Some of the homework had very little educational value and was simply given because the teacher was required to give homework every night. They recognized busy work when they saw it. On the other hand, homeschooling them the boys knew the value of the work they were asked to do, they were given practice work when they needed to master something and we moved on once they did master the material. At that point they took an active role in their education and no longer complained about doing their work.

      Now instant gratification is another subject. With all the latest technology cell phones, Tt-Vo, Netflix, and so on children will be growing up having everything they want when they want it. I can’t see this as being a positive step forward.


  7. Hmm. I think kids do try to internalize what they are told, and to take rules seriously, even if it is just so they won’t get in trouble. After a while it wears off and you question and rebel against everything you’re told. Maybe it’s that “You can’t make me!” and “I’ll do what I want!” mentality that kicks in, when it should also be outgrown?


    • I don’t know Exacting Life, I keep wondering at what stage we start to absorb the values of society rather than our own instincts. If we could some how answer that stage or exact point we could move beyond the desire to match or out-do the “Jonses”.


  8. This is an interesting question. Is it when we have been trained to not give in to our instincts as a small child? “Eat everything on your plate”, “Don’t be greedy”, “Go to bed now” , “Time to get up now”, “Speak more quietly”, “Don’t be so shy”, ” Sit still” , “Stop lounging around” , “Stop arguing” , “Stand up for yourself” etc!


    • You may be right, I was thinking that it was when the child moved out into society, such as going to school, where they find peer pressure. But yes, if they are not allowed to develop naturally and are told how to behave and what reactions are allowed in the home that would set them up to “follow the pack”, to share the same opinions of those around etc.


  9. Provided the kid isn’t overtired – then they can just be a handful! It’s so nice to get lost in ‘service’ which is why I try to make sure I factor some into my life – I think I enjoy it more than time with friends sometime!!


    • You know Sarah, you touched on a good point. While I enjoy my friends, I very much enjoy doing things, say volunteer. For example, I love working in the field and watching the neighbors enjoy the spaces that are being created. I don’t get paid for anything I do out there, I even invest some of my own money, but it’s so gratifying to see the outcome.


  10. Mmmm …. I wonder if it might be a consequence of loss of individual autonomy (sort of)…..
    Example… government rules re school/vaccines/what you should feed your kids etc etc
    Don’t know if this is accurate, but I have heard many say that they have carefully looked over government food guide recommendations, and if they were to eat anywhere near to what is recommended, would likely put on many pounds…
    (yet as you say, a young child will most always stop when full…A parent looking at a government food guide is likely to urge “more” eating)


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