Why Kids Are Smarter Than Adults

As of today, I’ve been a father for 3 years, 2 months, and 8 days. And for the past 16 months, 2 weeks and 5 days – a father of two :)

While doubling up on kids has been quite the adjustment (why doesn’t anyone ever tell you how much harder two is??), I’m learning a lot about being a dad, and really about human nature in general.

Particularly, that kids are much smarter than us adults.

For example:

They’re happy with what they have! Give them a cardboard box or a $100 toy and they’ll be just as pleased with it. Happiness = happiness to them!

They never stop learning. They’re constantly exploring and asking “why” every three seconds.

They tell everyone what they know. Sometimes it’s irrelevant (my eldest just informed me that “ghosts don’t have penises” haha…), but by and large shared information is better for everyone ;) Imagine if all your friends told you their tricks with money and life?

They’re honest about everything. And I mean everything.

They dream like crazy. It doesn’t matter how realistic they are or not!

They never stop having fun. (Isn’t being old boring some times??)

And most importantly, they LOVE unconditionally. They don’t even know what “grudge” means.

Of course, they also don’t have any responsibility or need for money whatsoever, but those minor facts aside they’re living it up right ;) And the truth is, the more we can learn to copy them in some of these, the better we’d be off too.

There’s something to be said for the basics. So long as we’re fed, clothed, (hopefully healthy!) and have a warm place to sleep at night, life really isn’t that bad. The rest is just extra.

Do your best to be happy with what you have over the weekend, and know that things will be okay if you’re struggling! Keep learning, dreaming, sharing, and loving those around you as best as you can. It may not make you a millionaire over night, but it’ll bring you joy a lot sooner. And from what I can tell with my two boys, that’s all that seems to matter :)

See ya back on Monday, friends.

PS: If I’m slow to respond the next few days, it’s because I’m hanging out with other money nerds at our yearly financial blogging conference :) If you happen to be there too, come find me and say hi!

[Photo by woodleywonderworks // Could you tell what that kid was doing up there?]

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  1. Slackerjo September 18, 2015 at 6:03 AM

    Those kids are totally on to something with the boxes thing. I work for a cleaning company so we have a lot of boxes. Boxes are totally fun to use to make shelves and tables and footstools. I plan to make a nice nice barcalounger out of them.

    Did not know about the ghost penis thing. You learn something new everyday!

    1. Stockbeard September 20, 2015 at 7:53 PM

      Wait, how can we know for sure unless we check under the linen shroud?

      1. J. Money September 21, 2015 at 12:18 PM

        haha… I’ll have to ask him and report back :)

  2. bacon&feta September 18, 2015 at 6:49 AM

    I agree completely! I think it comes down to the fact that kids have not yet learned to think of what other think of them. We adults, once we learn to feel judgement, shame, and pride, that’s when carefree life goes out the window.

    1. J. Money September 21, 2015 at 12:22 PM

      Yup. Sadly…

  3. Thias @It Pays Dividends September 18, 2015 at 7:05 AM

    I wish I could look at the world with the curiosity of my daughter. She is only 5 months and just discovering things and everything new she finds she looks at with such curiosity like it is the greatest thing in the world. I would love to approach life this way more.

    1. J. Money September 21, 2015 at 12:23 PM

      You can!!! Just takes baby steps! (no pun intended ;))

  4. Kalie September 18, 2015 at 7:09 AM

    So much truth here. My 4-year-old was having the time of his life hitting our grass with a stick last night. And he seems to prefer pre-owned ugly shirts with boy stuff on them to anything new he receives. I need some of that simplicity!

    1. J. Money September 21, 2015 at 12:25 PM

      hitting the grass is better than eating the grass :)

  5. Penny @ She Picks Up Pennies September 18, 2015 at 8:09 AM

    As a teacher, I am constantly floored by the insight that comes blurting out of kids at the most random times. It’s especially fun to get their take on national and world news. Sometimes I think we should let 12 year olds run the country instead of us! Your list is wonderful and the unconditional love bit is entirely true. Middle schools do, however, know how to hold a grudge. Just wait ;) Have fun at FinCon!

    1. J. Money September 21, 2015 at 12:25 PM

      I’m not looking forward to that ;)

  6. jestjack September 18, 2015 at 8:39 AM

    AAAHHHH….Money….the best is yet to come. Children have a unique ability to see things VERY differently. Not so long ago (about 15- 20 years ago) my DD2 and I were doing some “house cleaning” when we came upon an old portable typewriter. She had been “plunking away” on our computer and printing things out for some time. I then explained to her how the typewriter worked and put some paper in. I explained that this was “old technology” and that the computer replaced this device. She typed a bit and then exclaimed…”Dad…this is so much better…it cuts out a lot of steps….my words go right to the paper”….. Crazy….and amazing …For you… the best is yet to come!!!

    1. J. Money September 21, 2015 at 12:27 PM

      haha yeah! no electricity or messing around with printer options needed! :)

  7. Andrew September 18, 2015 at 9:02 AM

    I don’t have any children yet, but I look forward to it. Is two really that much harder than one? I thought it got easier? Have fun at the conference, perhaps I’ll see ya there in the future.


    1. J. Money September 21, 2015 at 12:35 PM

      I did too! It was a lie! :)

    2. Darrell September 22, 2015 at 6:47 PM

      Father of 4 checking in. Difficulty is a child by child issue. If they sleep and eat well, most things fall in to place. Going from 2 to 3 is the hardest adjustment. You go from a man-to-man to a zone defense.

      The real difficulty with multiple children is when they all start doing activities. Managing a calendar gets harder each time another child joins a scheduled/weekly activity.

      1. J. Money September 25, 2015 at 1:06 PM

        Oh man, that’s what I’ve been hearing… I’ll need to hire you to help out when I reach that stage ;)

  8. Justin @ Root of Good September 18, 2015 at 9:07 AM

    I think about this all the time. My kids can have fun with cardboard boxes, dirt, sticks, leaves, or anything really. We have some fancy toys but they don’t really care about how much something costs. It’s all about engagement and fun.

    So I take those lessons and apply them to my own adult life. Novel, unique experiences don’t have to cost anything really. :)

  9. Gretchen September 18, 2015 at 9:28 AM

    So unbelievably true! Our daughter turns 2 next month and I just love this age. She constantly comes and finds me just to give hugs and kisses, and everything she says I find absolutely hilarious! I might be a little biased, but seeing the world through kids’ eye is an awesome remind of what life is supposed to be.

  10. Lisa O September 18, 2015 at 9:55 AM

    Makes ya wish you could go back and live that way forever! Although I think in this day and age by the time they are in Jr High they start living with more reality as to what this crazy world has to offer. My little ones at 26 and 22 have entered the adult world of responsibility, expectations from employers and student loan debt payoff along with every day bills! This journey of life is full of choices and you need to make ones that work for your happiness!

    1. J. Money September 21, 2015 at 12:37 PM

      Yeah, no way to avoid reality over the years, but we can still work towards being more open-minded and creative :) We have control over most our decisions.

  11. EL September 18, 2015 at 10:13 AM

    Yeah its true they have tons of fun and ask crazy random questions. I am still wondering why they like boxes, because I did as well. Have fun in FINCON.

  12. Mr. Utopia @ Personal Finance Utopia September 18, 2015 at 10:13 AM

    A conversation I had with my 2 year-old son a few months ago as I climbed into his bed to snuggle up for a few minutes:

    Him: Nooo! I don’t like cuddling anymore!

    Me: Oh, that’s too bad. Why not?

    Him: It takes away all my energy!

    Kids say the darnedest things…that youthful innocence and vigor for life is amazing to see.

    1. J. Money September 21, 2015 at 12:39 PM


      You should tell him it GIVES HIM MORE energy! Powers him up like a big cuddly energizer bunny :)

  13. Kim September 18, 2015 at 10:32 AM

    I love watching my kids imagination go! My oldest loves to make pretend instructional videos where she does a craft and describes exactly what she’s doing to a pretend audience – like a How – To video for herself. My youngest loves complexity with her creative play. They’re not just dressing up as princess. They’re princess doctors that are also mommies, but they need to use their construction equipment and magic powers to clear a road block on the way to work at the hospital castle. It’s awesome that they can’t really see limits in their environments – anything is possible, and you can do whatever you want :)

    1. J. Money September 21, 2015 at 12:40 PM

      That is awesome :)

  14. John C @ Action Economics September 18, 2015 at 10:38 AM

    Each kid added increases chaos exponentially, to many people think its a straight line increase. By the time you have 4 controlling the chaos is almost impossible lol.

    1. J. Money September 21, 2015 at 12:41 PM

      I can’t even imagine!

  15. Money Beagle September 18, 2015 at 10:52 AM

    One of the best experiences I’ve had as a parent is when I see the wonder in the eyes of one of my children as they discover something in the world. You can never truly see things through their eyes, but being around them and sharing the experience is definitely the next best thing.

  16. Danell September 18, 2015 at 10:59 AM

    I miss those days. My kids are teenagers now but they still amuse me with their insights. Oh, and going from one to two kids is like going from one to three. It’s a trick someone plays on us. We think one kid isn’t so bad, let’s have another and then Wham! I’ve heard once you get to like four or five though, it starts to decrease the workload. I think it’s either because the older ones require less work and can maybe help out or because you’ve completely lost it and have given up!

    1. J. Money September 21, 2015 at 12:44 PM

      I’ll let you try it out and then report back ;)

  17. Emily @ JohnJaneDoe.com September 18, 2015 at 11:38 AM

    I love that my daughter will repurpose almost everything to turn into a toy. Toilet paper roll? Tape 2 together and she has binoculars. Random log? with a little glue and other stuff, it’s a fairy house. Cotton balls? It’s a bug hospital.

    And kids are so passionate! It’s no fun when some minor decision like what you cooked for dinner becomes the end of the world, but how else could they get so mad about other kids being hungry, or feel so strongly that injustice is wrong. And that you should do something about it. I really think kids make us our best selves.

    Enjoy your kids, and Have fun at FinCon!

    1. J. Money September 21, 2015 at 12:45 PM

      Thanks Emily! The bug hospital idea is the best, haha… they’re so creative!

  18. Benji September 18, 2015 at 12:11 PM

    That child is obviously on fire and doing the stop drop and roll…. and here is where I make my second joke about having a different idea for rolling in the green means.

    I’ll just let myself out.

    1. J. Money September 21, 2015 at 12:46 PM


  19. Ella Blue September 18, 2015 at 1:54 PM

    Kids just live, it’s great! During a training we were talking about self-care, and one of the suggestions for self-care, was to spend time with children. Kids are so honest, and simple, and matter-of-fact. I love it. I babysit on the side for a family who goes out a lot, and their youngest who is 5 years old, just cracks me up with these statements all the time

    “nah… girlfriends are better than wives”
    “Kids are expensive, I don’t think I want one”
    “So you’re still in college, and when you graduate, you’ll be a grown up?” (Apparently even though I was 27, I was not considered a grown up because I had not yet graduated college…)

    1. J. Money September 21, 2015 at 12:46 PM


  20. M/M Kash September 18, 2015 at 2:18 PM

    Kids are wonderful…enjoy it all. We live near the beach and our son was happiest digging holes at the beach and playing in the surf. No big $$ ever spent and tons of fun. I love the things they create, their imaginations are amazing….write it down. Keep track of their funny, quirky sayings, their great ideas, their dreams. I have an amazing journal with all kinds of things…we still read through it (he’s 12) and he loves hearing the things he said. ❤️

    1. J. Money September 21, 2015 at 12:48 PM

      Fantastic idea!

      Now how the hell did you make that killer red heart in your comment? Haha… That’s awesome!

  21. Maggie @ Northern Expenditure September 18, 2015 at 4:12 PM

    Kids are the best! Though their financial sense is often skewed. I was buying new glasses this week (because my youngest snapped mine in half). They said “those frames are one ninety five” and my oldest said, really loud “A dollar ninety-five?! That’s so cheap mom! They’re like bananas!” No, honey, one hundred and ninety five dollars. “WHAT?!” Love them.

    1. Benji September 21, 2015 at 10:16 AM

      If you have your prescription already, you might want to check out http://www.zennioptical.com/ which my wife uses or any number of discount places online to get glasses. My wife is always loosing her glasses so we bought 5 pair at about $13 each. Now she can leave them all over the house and car and we always seem to be able to find a pair when we need to.

    2. J. Money September 21, 2015 at 12:50 PM

      I used to compare everything to bananas too :) at 25 y/o.

  22. The Professor September 18, 2015 at 9:31 PM

    Nice column here today.
    When I was expecting my first child I asked another Dad what it was like to be a Dad. His response was classic and I’ll never forget it. He said: “It makes you a better man, not better than any other man, just a better man.

    I have two daughters that have definitely made me a better man.

    1. J. Money September 21, 2015 at 12:54 PM

      haha – brilliant.

  23. Michelle September 19, 2015 at 6:34 PM

    I have a daughter and she’s really smarter compared with when I was at her age. She asks a lot of questions and is never afraid. She’s just amazing as well because I can see that she has potential to be a financial adviser because she makes good financial advice to me.

  24. Steve Miller September 20, 2015 at 12:39 PM

    And they surprise you in many ways. When my son was in the 3rd grade, I went to a class play they arranged. I had no idea going to the play that my son was the lead and he did incredibly well. He never told us he was going to do it!

    Always amazed.

    1. J. Money September 21, 2015 at 12:55 PM

      That’s cool :)

  25. NDQ September 20, 2015 at 3:37 PM

    I cannot wait to see what this generation does with technology. The term “one hour photo” is completely foreign to them.

    “Beam me up, Scotty!”


  26. J. Money September 21, 2015 at 1:04 PM

    Agreed. The best is “what’s a dial tone?”

  27. Rafael Cervantes October 9, 2015 at 11:44 AM

    I have three boys and let me tell you they are very intelligent. They focus on everything and remember a lot of what I teach them. I really like this post because its humble and very true. Us as adults and providers of our families we focus so Much on giving them material things, instead on focusing on how they are very happy even with the smallest thing. My boys have taught me a lot about my life, and that is, always be grateful for what you have, Because in a blink of an eye it can all go away.

    1. J. Money October 9, 2015 at 12:26 PM