Originally authored by Jennifer Magliano at The Muse
Out of the mouths of little ones….comes awesome work advice! Children are wiser than their years and their methods are imitation-worthy (OK, maybe not the whining). Surely you’ve seen it: kids’ playground politics are straight-up righteous, their Lego creations rival your proudest project, and they break out in laughter while you break out in hives.
Their adorably mispronounced declarations go viral for a reason: we long for the clarity and ease so natural to preschoolers. That’s why we spoke with Regina Campisi, Assistant Director of KinderCare Learning Centers, about the lessons she’s learned from her interactions with 3 and 4-year-olds over her 18-year career at KinderCare.
1. Be the Cute Kid Who Veers Wildly Off Topic
“Kids are such free thinkers,” Regina marvels. “You’ll start with, 'Let’s talk about today’s weather,' and you’re taking them in one direction.” But soon they’re discussing Julia’s dog and Martin’s gerbil. Before you know it, you’re researching class pets. Making connections triggers creative ideas, and preschoolers really let their minds go.
At your next meeting, take a cue from kids and encourage colleagues to riff off each other. Skirt the issue, explore tangents, and join the buzz. Then steer things back on track—keeping any fringe ideas that sparked excitement.
2. Cheer All the Time for No Good Reason
At work, excitement (the good kind, anyway) can seem hard to come by. But kids are psyched when they tackle a task: endlessly fascinated with their own process, amazed at the results, and super excited for pals who succeed first.
Kids may be crazy competitive at Connect Four, but when a peer masters a skill, Regina notices, tots celebrate. They’re genuinely happy for their friend and know they’ve gained a valuable resource—giving them, even more, to hoot about.
When Avery shouts, “Look! Taylor did the puzzle fast,” Taylor and Avery feel great, and their peers cheer too. Positivity is contagious. In addition, Taylor’s been publicly crowned puzzle master, which benefits everyone long term.
Compliments have a ripple effect, so pause to tell your co-workers they’re doing a great job. You’ll find reasons to cheer, and a good woot-woot boosts everyone’s mood.
3. Give Yourself Lots of Fun Titles
If there’s ever a dull moment or not-so-happy camper, Regina comes to the rescue by strategically assigning an enticingly titled, very important job. Call the last in line a caboose, or a crying kid a Napkin-Passer-Outer, and all’s well with the world. Who doesn’t long to feel needed?
When you’re uninspired, don’t be afraid to ask for a new assignment. If that won’t fly, do a quick task-switch. Everyone loves the Dust-Remover and the Coffee-Replenisher.
It’s easy to fall into a rut doing the same things day in and day out. Young or old, everyone benefits from mental breaks and feeling worthy. There’s nothing like going from Paper Pusher to Cupcake Monitor when you’re dragging!
4. Rub Your Eyes and Start Fresh
Regina always introduces new jobs after nap time. In fact, anything that needs changing, changes after nap time. “The kids get two fresh starts, in the morning and again after their naps,” she says. And her little ones don’t hold grudges. They let go of morning hurts and start renewed—and so can you.
Use lunchtime to find that reset button, and treat the afternoon as a new day. Since you probably can’t grab a snooze, try one of the tried-and-true reset methods below that are so intuitive to preschoolers.
5. Enjoy a Little Center Time
In school, they don’t call it “center time" for nothing. As kids explore each teacher-created activity, they connect to their own center. Music, art, and movement tap into what makes us human and happy.
How do kids do it? “They blow into a plastic pipe, bang on a drum. Draw a picture.” Regina gets that pipes and drums aren’t exactly welcome at work, but with some modifications, you can still reap rewards as the kids do.
Drumming realigns and releases negative feelings, so just tapping out a rhythm does wonder for your mind and mood. If you want to up your game, buy a finger drumming pad (and headphones, of course) to keep in your desk, alongside a mandala coloring book. Shading in geometric patterns is another proven anxiety reducer.
Or whistle while you work—that is if you work alone. If not, take a breathing break—focused in-and-out breathing quiets the mind and centers you.
Regina and her preschoolers know what a little creative exploration, role-playing, and cheerleading can do. And if these were packaged, they’d definitely be labeled Ages 3 and Up.