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Kid Philosophy: What is the wisest thing you've heard a child say?

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I was at the park with my son today. Last night he'd been asking his mother some really big questions.

Why are we here? What does it all mean? Why do we have to have blood when it's so messy? Things like that.

He is almost 7 now, if you're familiar with CDP, you'll be aware that around his age, we start to form the cognitive faculties we need to be able to utilise logic. 

So I asked him today "What do you think the meaning of life is? Answer honestly, I won't judge what you say."

His response was this; "To do everything that you can live with."

So what little wisdom gems have you heard from a child that were pretty interesting to hear, despite their age?

I mean to ask him more questions about his answer later, for now I think it is a good start to let him have a simple answer to a complex question, for a little while. 

 

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Most little kids ask "why" or "how come" when they are told something they don't like my youngest son always said "why not" he works at a government lab now. When I read the first paper he wrote it almost made me afraid to hold a conversation with him for fear of sounding stupid... 

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Don't eat me...

Wisdom requires knowledge and experience...

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5 minutes ago, dimreepr said:

Don't eat me...

You should stop carrying around that bottle of Worcestershire sauce everywhere you go.

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2 minutes ago, Phi for All said:

You should stop carrying around that bottle of Worcestershire sauce everywhere you go.

I learned that much later in life... 🙄

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44 minutes ago, dimreepr said:

Don't eat me...

Wisdom requires knowledge and experience...

Which we acquire more of everyday of our lives, from the first day onwards. Children too, it's just about figuring out where the milestones are and considering what they say charitably.

Admittedly, if an adult had responded to that question in the same way I'd not have been impressed but as a parent you've got to be able to see the forest for the trees and figure out what is wise or intelligent depending on stages of development.

An example might be; it's not impressive for a 20 year old to tell me that the square root of 81 is 9, but it's very impressive if it comes from a three year old.

Seriously, why do you carry the Worcestershire sauce around? :P

 

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5 minutes ago, MSC said:

Which we acquire more of everyday of our lives, from the first day onwards. Children too, it's just about figuring out where the milestones are and considering what they say charitably.

Admittedly, if an adult had responded to that question in the same way I'd not have been impressed but as a parent you've got to be able to see the forest for the trees and figure out what is wise or intelligent depending on stages of development.

An example might be; it's not impressive for a 20 year old to tell me that the square root of 81 is 9, but it's very impressive if it comes from a three year old.

Is the child that walks first, a better walker?

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5 minutes ago, dimreepr said:

Is the child that walks first, a better walker?

No? I'm not sure I'm catching your drift but the point of this thread isn't to debate whether or not children have the capacity to be wise, the point is to share your own experience of when a child has said something interesting at the very least, even if it doesn't fit your definition of what it means to say something wise. I want to hear from other people about what they have heard and was sharing my own story to get the ball rolling. It wasn't really an open invitation to have a proxy debate with a 6 year old.

Be careful though because you're currently in the territory of ageism and I don't appreciate anyone trying to invalidate my kids development. If you are comparing him to you, that's quite frankly not fair on him at all. He's not even 7 yet.

So in line with the spirit of this thread, has a child ever said anything to you that has made you stop and think? Something you found interesting?

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A five-year-old cousin was visiting from Alabama, and my family was getting ready to go drive somewhere. The adults were in the house, the kids were outside, and the young cousin was messing around climbing up onto the roof of the car in the driveway. The adults suddenly come out the front door, and the cousin tried to casually scoot off the car but he hurried and ended up landing flat on his butt in front of everyone. Into the shocked silence, this little guy had the aplomb to jump up and holler "Bet y'all can't do THAT!" Not so much wise, but a brilliant bit of savoir-faire, and it's been a family story for a long time.

1 hour ago, dimreepr said:

Is the child that walks first, a better walker?

If he can walk in the forest without making a sound.

19 hours ago, MSC said:

"To do everything that you can live with."

"Don't do anything you can't live with" is right up there with the Golden Rule. Very wise kid you've got there.

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1 hour ago, Phi for All said:

Into the shocked silence, this little guy had the aplomb to jump up and holler "Bet y'all can't do THAT!" Not so much wise, but a brilliant bit of savoir-faire, and it's been a family story for a long time

Depends on how you define wise. Having the wisdom to turn an awkward situation into a humorous one is sometimes no small feat :) sometimes, wisdom can come from what we say after we've done something kind of strange. 

Your cousin sounds like he thinks fast on his feet and on his ass 😄 Kid's are awesome :)

38 minutes ago, John Cuthber said:

My cousin's son to his big sister " stop tickling me or I will wee in my pants".

Pragmatically explaining consequentialism. Invade my personal space with your hands, I'll invade yours with my urine. Wisdom haha

Edited by MSC

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On 11/22/2020 at 10:11 PM, MSC said:

So what little wisdom gems have you heard from a child that were pretty interesting to hear, despite their age?

I mean to ask him more questions about his answer later, for now I think it is a good start to let him have a simple answer to a complex question, for a little while. 

In my experience it's been more cleverness than wisdom. One sample (from my younger English students about 11) is: 'Say, teacher, how did people come up with language before there was any language?'

The thing with kids is you cannot be completely sure whether they're mimicking things they've heard, re-processing it in their own language, or genuinely coming up with a brilliant point from scratch. Even if the former were the case, it's quite impressive.

It's been scientifically proven that communities of kids isolated from adult language can create build up their own language. So something relational is going on there, I surmise.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicaraguan_Sign_Language

Edit: Very interesting topic.

Edited by joigus

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20 hours ago, MSC said:

I'm not sure I'm catching your drift but the point of this thread isn't to debate whether or not children have the capacity to be wise, the point is to share your own experience of when a child has said something interesting at the very least, even if it doesn't fit your definition of what it means to say something wise.

I'm sorry, I just thought it was an interesting tangent (so off topic). 

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This example is not one of wisdom, but did give me great hopes that my son had developed the same warped sense of humour. At a dinner to celebrate his 11th birthday I was pontificating about the supposed origin of the name America from that of the explorer Amerigo Vespucci. Quick as a flash my son said, "That's quite something. Having a continent and a fairground a attraction named after you." I looked at him, puzzled? "A fairground attraction?" "Yes," he replied "A merry-go-round."

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30 minutes ago, Area54 said:

This example is not one of wisdom, but did give me great hopes that my son had developed the same warped sense of humour. At a dinner to celebrate his 11th birthday I was pontificating about the supposed origin of the name America from that of the explorer Amerigo Vespucci. Quick as a flash my son said, "That's quite something. Having a continent and a fairground a attraction named after you." I looked at him, puzzled? "A fairground attraction?" "Yes," he replied "A merry-go-round."

Humour can be wisdom! Sounds to me like your son has something important to say about the meaning of language. 

I believe it was Wittgenstein who said that a serious and influential piece of philosophy, could be written consisting entirely of jokes.

Someone should go to Wikipedia and alter the etymology of a merry-go-round. :P Amerigo round the world! 

 

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23 hours ago, MSC said:

Pragmatically explaining consequentialism. Invade my personal space with your hands, I'll invade yours with my urine. Wisdom haha

I think the relevant consequence wass  " and mum just heard me tell you that..."

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21 hours ago, MSC said:

Humour can be wisdom

So, my tangent isn't so tangential.

A precocious child may find the wisdom in an individual experience; e.g. a child touches an electric fire and is wise enough not to do that again (if it's hot); it doesn't mean the child won't play with matches.

With enough experiences, even a slow child can be wiser.

 I was a house father (care manager) in a Rudofl Steiner care home; I didn't care for his philosophy, other than his insistence that whatever the disability, they are equally capable.

 In that house, everyday, I made egg mayonnaise for supper (with added salt and pepper), then one day Robert saw me and said "I don't like pepper"

 "Ha" I said "you liked it yesterday"

"no I didn't, that was Mr Wednesday"...  

 

Edited by dimreepr

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7 hours ago, dimreepr said:

So, my tangent isn't so tangential.

A precocious child may find the wisdom in an individual experience; e.g. a child touches an electric fire and is wise enough not to do that again (if it's hot); it doesn't mean the child won't play with matches.

With enough experiences, even a slow child can be wiser.

 I was a house father (care manager) in a Rudofl Steiner care home; I didn't care for his philosophy, other than his insistence that whatever the disability, they are equally capable.

 In that house, everyday, I made egg mayonnaise for supper (with added salt and pepper), then one day Robert saw me and said "I don't like pepper"

 "Ha" I said "you liked it yesterday"

"no I didn't, that was Mr Wednesday"...  

 

Not at all. Your tangents are always welcome with me. :)

In fairness I probably should have made it clearer I was using a broad but context specific definition, in order to be charitable to the kids.

Yeah, Mr Wednesday visits our house too. He likes all kinds of awesome foods. He never stays for very long though. Mr Wednesday actually likes my butternut squash chilli, my kid... Not so much 😄

What do you think are some good follow up questions with my sons current answer to the meaning of life? I was going to start by pointing out that some people can live with doing some things and that some people can't bring themselves to do those things for fear that they may in fact be bad things to do. Even the neediest can over-empathise to the point of declining charity, for fear there may be someone needier out there they may be depriving, which would leave them feeling guilty.

it's all very well to say do anything and everything you can live with, there is a certain maximalism implied in that way. But what can we live with and what can't we? How are we defining living exactly? Is living just, breathing, excreting waste and taking in nutrients? Or is that just surviving? Then it would be as simple as not doing anything that could potentially kill you. Which covers quite a lot of ground and left open to interpretation, could lead to an extreme of avoidance of every day dangers like crossing the street or just going outside. 

Now, obviously I cannot go into this much detail with my kid yet, but it would be nice to have discussions in this thread about some of the things kids have said that could lead to interesting discussions. That and I could use other perspectives on how to get my kid to think more and expand on his thoughts. 

Side Bar: Thank you so much for your contribution to this thread and the work you did as a care manager. I have a lot of respect for people who work in care. :)

7 hours ago, michel123456 said:

The Internet is full of it. Is this genuine, I don't know. It is funny.

.wisdom-from-children.JPG.611c935c3b624071f0a055a022830312.JPG

jeez! Poor Robert, I really hope he isn't giving that advice based on first hand experience.. Ouch! Frank Gallagher on Shameless did that too, peed on a generator though!

Eileen, you had me at baptize..

Thanks for sharing Michel! +1 :)

Edited by MSC
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17 hours ago, MSC said:

What do you think are some good follow up questions with my sons current answer to the meaning of life? I was going to start by pointing out that some people can live with doing some things and that some people can't bring themselves to do those things for fear that they may in fact be bad things to do. Even the neediest can over-empathise to the point of declining charity, for fear there may be someone needier out there they may be depriving, which would leave them feeling guilty.

All I can say is, the more experiences he has the closer he'll get to THE answer (not a bad start though).

"What doesn't kill you, just makes you stronger"... I know... but it does work as a metaphor. 😉

The meaning of life is to live it, in whatever way you want; from a hobo to a billionaire, spoiler alert the hobo has had more experiences; for proof read Stienbeck or Orwell, rather than Trump... 

Edited by dimreepr

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Tonight after our thanksgiving meal, we flipped through the channels and the scheduled American football game had been cancelled... replaced by a dog show which our 3-year old cleverly called a “dog Talent show.”

That made us chuckle... how does a 3-year old know WTF a talent show even is, and how cute is it to label a dog show as one?

But that was nowhere near as cute as how during dinner a few weeks back when speaking and searching for the word for “watch” this same 3-year old described it as a “clock bracelet.”

My pride regarding these self-directed still forming descriptions of the cosmos around us is boundless. 

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11 hours ago, iNow said:

Tonight after our thanksgiving meal, we flipped through the channels and the scheduled American football game had been cancelled... replaced by a dog show which our 3-year old cleverly called a “dog Talent show.”

That made us chuckle... how does a 3-year old know WTF a talent show even is, and how cute is it to label a dog show as one?

But that was nowhere near as cute as how during dinner a few weeks back when speaking and searching for the word for “watch” this same 3-year old described it as a “clock bracelet.”

My pride regarding these self-directed still forming descriptions of the cosmos around us is boundless. 

I know right? It's adorable. :) I mean, they aren't even wrong. A watch is indeed a clock bracelet! 

Your three year old obviously knows what a talent show is, because they are a walking one! 

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14 hours ago, iNow said:

Tonight after our thanksgiving meal, we flipped through the channels and the scheduled American football game had been cancelled... replaced by a dog show which our 3-year old cleverly called a “dog Talent show.”

That made us chuckle... how does a 3-year old know WTF a talent show even is, and how cute is it to label a dog show as one?

But that was nowhere near as cute as how during dinner a few weeks back when speaking and searching for the word for “watch” this same 3-year old described it as a “clock bracelet.”

My pride regarding these self-directed still forming descriptions of the cosmos around us is boundless. 

Smart kid. That reminds me, I read about a chimp that could sign very well and, along the same lines, she called a fridge "open door food". My nephew, who probably 4 or 5, asked me  if you went work, you were swapping your life for money? 

Edited by StringJunky

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You guys are drifting dangerously from "wise" to "cute". ;)

My own heuristics on the question is that kids are suckers for reactions in the adults, and what they do there is kind of a mixture between combinatorics of mouthfuls of meaning they've picked up somewhere and real striving to understand. But it's hunger for feedback what really drives them into bold new semantic territory. But, for kids that age, I think it's the emotional feedback that's the bonus. I bet next thing that goes on in the kid's mind is 'wow, I've been funny' rather than 'so that's what this is about'. Nothing wrong with that. :D

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