8 Life Lessons I Learned From My 3-Year-Old Daughter

She is teaching me as much as I am teaching her.
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My daughter is turning 3 today. I am so grateful to be around such a wonderful creature. Every day, there will be a moment where I will look at her completely awestruck and amazed. I am sharing the top eight life lessons I learned from her:

1. Say what you want and do not be afraid to say no.

When my daughter wants something, we know. She is an expert in expressing her needs and making sure they are heard. She will say no if she does not agree. She is good in setting her personal boundaries.

Lesson: Clearly express what you want to your partner, your boss and everyone else. The worst thing that can happen is that they say no. You can survive that. What you cannot expect is that they read your mind. Also learn to say no yourself.

2. Let all the emotions out.

My daughter will laugh and cry uncontrollably. She will take her time letting out the emotions. Until peace is restored. Laughter and crying are self-healing mechanisms to let go of tension, fear and anger.

Lesson: Do not suppress your emotions. They will come back to haunt you. Let it all out.

3. Dance in every occasion.

I just created a movie with a compilation of the videos of my daughter’s third year of life. In most of them, she is dancing. There is tons of research on dance’s benefits on our mental and physical health.

Lesson: Just dance.

4. Make new friends quickly.

Children’s ability to make new friends keeps astonishing me. We recently moved to a new country and I have met most of my new friends through my daughter. She will just play with other kids on the playground or the beach, and I get to talk with the parents. She is the best social wingman.

She said I love you to her new nanny a week after meeting her. She told me yesterday that she loves a new friend she made. She has seen him twice.

If relationships are one of the most influential factors for happiness, we can learn a thing or two from the masters: children.

Lesson: Meet new people. Do not be afraid to show your affection.

5. The small things are the big things.

My daughter will find joy in a scoop of ice cream, a beautiful song, a little stone she can throw. She lives in the moment and appreciates it.

Lesson: Do not expect the extraordinary moments to experience joy. Enjoy the small things. As you look back in your life, you will see that they were the big things.

6. Fall and pick yourself up.

Mistakes or failures do not exist in a toddler’s life. Everything is an experiment. When my daughter or myself spill something, she will look at me and say, “That’s okay, mommy.”

Lesson: There is no failure. Just learning.

7. Not being self-conscious.

Toddlers do not care about how they look. They do not mind being naked. They will not hold themselves back. They will sing, and jump and shout as they feel.

Lesson: Spend less time worrying about what other people think of you and enjoy life.

8. Be fearless and at the same time do not be afraid to show fear.

My daughter will look at a gecko or a spider on the wall, and she will calmly point it to us. She will say hello when the gecko makes a noise. Babies are only born with two fears: loud noises and falling. Every other fear is learned.

As much as my daughter is bold, she will hide behind me if she is afraid of a new person we meet. There is no shame in fear.

Lesson: Accept fear, but also challenge it.


After I became a mother, I wanted to be my best possible self so I can be a good example for my daughter. I soon found out that she is teaching me as much as I am teaching her.

Kids show us human nature, before all the social conditioning. They are a great inspiration for being yourself, staying in the moment and living life in the fullest.

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Caterina Kostoula is an Executive Coach and a Global Business Leader at Google. Follow Caterina Kostoula on Facebook, Medium, Twitter or LinkedIn.