Tiny Human

Marc Cocchio
7 min readMay 26, 2023


A parenting micro-philosophy

My sister has, as far as I know, always referred to her child as the tiny human. Not a baby, not a toddler, not a “wow, you’re such a big boy now!”

As a quirky person, I attributed this, initially, to her quirkiness.

It wasn’t until I had a child of my own, and in really analyzing my relationship with my child, as well as reading (admittedly skimming) a handful of parenting guides, that I began to understand what she meant.

Now, I might be reading into her initializing the “Tiny Human Philosophy” too much, so I’m making it my own, as one should with philosophies.

Here’s how it works. Hold on to your hats, as this just might come as a big surprise to you: our children are human. Just usually smaller than us.

Instead of waxing philosophical, here are some of my personal tangible points, collected from my own experiences, conversations with fellow parents and various readings. In no particular order, of course.

exhibit 73b — the tiny human.

Try not to do solo time-outs

It’s not like you’d learn anything if your boss told you to “sit and think about what you’ve done” if you had some issue compiling software or forgot about deadline. Further, something so unpersonal and generic would not at all help build a more positive relationship with your boss.

Try not to raise your voice

“Inuit Morality Play” describes the taboo of losing one’s temper, most especially towards a child. What do you think about your friends, acquaintances, and work people who yell? There’s barely ever an appropriate time. Yes, it takes a heck of a lot of patience when your child *insert a repeated action that you’ve told them to do so many times*, but we don’t want to teach them that losing one’s temper a common thing. Sure, we all do sometimes, nobody’s perfect. If you do, just acknowledge and apologize. Just as you would with a fellow “big human.”

Try to keep promises

When someone flakes on you for a lunch, a coworker “forgets” to help you fill out that form, or your partner didn’t make those Saturday-morning-pancakes they had promised, none of that feels good. Tiny humans have surprisingly excellent memories of promises made. Don’t forget!

Try not to make threats

In line with above, tiny humans remember these threats, especially when not followed through. And we know so many of those threats are empty or at the very least “in the moment.” A better solution? Just don’t do it. Even the tiniest “threat” from an authority can be almost soul-damaging. Also, so many threats don’t even make sense, “You don’t want to eat your broccoli? Okay, no toys in the bath.” Imagine if you got a parking ticket that read, “now you have to sweep the floor of the nearby barber shop.” Wait, that’d be kinda cool.

Try to “drive all blames to oneself”

You got me, I took this one directly from the twelfth Buddhist aphorism. But you knew that, right? You know the trope of the child throwing a tantrum in the mall, screaming “I want to go home!” while rolling on the floor? Turns out, the tiny human has been dragged against their will to walk around a sensory-overload prison, confined to dozens of strange rules, designed specifically for big humans. For multiple hours. It wasn’t their choice.

Try to transition slowly

Your partner turns off the TV right as Michael Scott begins to deliver yet another monologue to the entire office. “Hey, put your shoes on, we’re going to the supermarket.” What the heck? Give me at least a bit of a warning. It’s not a huge leap to let your tiny human know, “after a few more times down the slide, we have to go because it’s getting dark,” or “we’re going to say goodbye to your friends soon because your mom has an important appointment.” Ah, I should have subtitled this one, “No sudden movements.”

Try to give lots of time

I remember being in a hot-tub with my brother and some friends in our late-teens. I watched as one guy after another tried to open a twist-top beer with pruny hands. Every single one of us thought, “I could do that, give it here.” Battled with adolescent patience (or lack thereof), the bottle actually made its way around and one-by-one we failed to open it. We kinda paused for one of those teenage-philosophical moments. Not only did we each think that we could do it ourself, we didn’t want to wait and watch someone failing again and again. But, when holding the bottle myself, what did I do when someone tried to take it from me? No way. If I was going to fail, just give me time and let me fail. I’ll ask for help after I fail. Similarly, recently the tiny human in our home struggled to open a not-beer-beverage. It took a lot of willpower to not reach out and open it for them, but I resisted. I gave them time.

Try to give time alone

Isn’t quiet time nice. Sit back, look out a window, peel an orange, flip through *app everyone is flipping through these days* and, “hey don’t you want to go play on the slide?” or “why don’t you come sit with us?” We cherish alone time; we literally consider it self-care. Turns out, tiny humans also love and need their own alone time, too.

Try to limit constant quizzing

What did you eat today? What are your friends’ names? What color do you like? Tell me the name of this animal. Tell me about your math test. This point is a little tough, because making conversation (whether sincerely deep or just light chit chat) with tiny humans is just as amazing as with other fellow humans. Somewhere I remember hearing about a kid saying something to the effect of, “Stop asking me about school. I don’t want to talk about school; I go there all day, and it’s the least interesting thing in my life. There are a million other things we can talk about.” We pursue refining the art of conversation with big adults — on dates with prospective lovers, in meetings with bosses, at that new craft beer place with friends complaining about said bosses — let’s try with tiny humans, too.

Be sincere when they are hurt

This subtitle is a bit obvious, no? Well, I’ve heard all kinds of strategies on reacting to when your child falls down.

The overly dramatic one: “Oh my goodness, oh no, are you okay. We’ll get you big bandaid for your big fall. You have such a big ouchy!”

The cheerleader: “Woohoo! What a perfect tumble. Let’s dust yourself off! Don’t worry about it.”

The denier: “You weren’t going that fast. It’s just a tiny scrape. It doesn’t even hurt. You don’t need a bandaid.”

The make-it-worse-er: “Ah, you got your pants all dirty. And now we don’t have any time for snacks, because we need to go to the car and change your pants.”

The blamer: “That’s what you get for not listening! I told you not to go down the slide that way.”

And the observer who simply looks at the child and waits to see their reaction, enabling some strange “what’re you gonna do now?” waiting game.

How about this: treat the tiny human (who, in this hypothetical rhetoric just fell down and is potentially in pain) as you would a fellow big human. Look at the specific situation and assess their physical and emotional needs.

The thing is, there are parts of each of the above reactions that are suitable to each situation, and if your adult friend fell down the stairs at work and twisted their ankle, you’d take a moment to figure out a sincere and appropriate reaction.

Try not to wake them up

Ok, my mom said, “Never wake a sleeping baby.” Which I think means that as caregivers, we should try to align our lives in order to prioritize sleep for our tiny humans; this, in turn, empowers us to overhaul our lives to include another individual among our top priorities. But also, do you enjoy getting woken up by someone? Seriously. No one wants that.

Try not to let perfection be the enemy of good

Nobody is perfect. No “system” is perfect. Try your best, communicate as much as possible with the tiny human and others directly involved in their care, and take a deep breath. You’re good.

In Review

After presenting this text to my friend and upcoming global author Charles G. P. Teasdale, he had this to say:

The “Tiny Human” philosophy presented in the text seems to be an approach to parenting that emphasizes treating children as humans deserving of respect, understanding, and empathy. It encourages parents to consider their children’s perspectives and needs, fostering positive relationships and effective communication.

The philosophy suggests several tangible points for parents to consider, such as avoiding solo time-outs, not raising voices excessively, keeping promises, refraining from making threats, taking responsibility for one’s actions, providing gentle transitions, allowing ample time for tasks and activities, respecting children’s need for alone time, avoiding constant quizzing, and responding sincerely to their emotional and physical pain.

These points align with principles of respectful and compassionate parenting. They promote building trust, maintaining emotional well-being, nurturing positive parent-child relationships, and acknowledging children’s autonomy and individuality.

It’s important to note that parenting philosophies can vary, and what works for one family may not work for another. However, the “Tiny Human” philosophy appears to emphasize treating children with empathy and respect, which can contribute to their emotional development and overall well-being.



Marc Cocchio

Both a creative and critical thinker, I am a Python programmer, UX designer, and woodworker, based in Japan.