Each morning while my kids are stepping foot on the school bus, I find myself berating them with the below demands:
Remember to turn in your math homework! Don’t put your mouth on the water fountain! Eat your vegetables at lunch! Keep your hands to yourself! Don’t speak out in class! Wash your hands after you use the restroom! Don’t stand up when your school bus is moving!
As a parent, you feel that it is your responsibility to remind them of all of these things. You only want what is best for them.
The problem is, while I am lecturing them on all of these things I might as well be reciting the Constitution of the United States. They are bored, confused, and overwhelmed during my morning speech. They are only 6 and 7 years old, but they already know all of these things I shout at them as they roll their eyes and basically wave “shut up” at me.
Wait, What did You Just Say?
Then one morning, in the school bus line, I stood chatting with one of the other children’s grandmothers. As the bus approached, I began to address my son and daughter with the speech I prepared. I stopped when I heard what the grandmother said to her grandsons. She pointed her finger at them and said five simple words:
“Be nice to other kids”
She gave a little smile and started to walk away. I was a little taken aback by the simplicity of her request. So much so that I stopped her and asked her with a confused look, “Did you just say ‘Be nice to the other kids’?” She replied, “Sometimes they just need the reminder”.
It was such a simple explanation that there is no way she knew the impact this had on me. She was right. Kids do need a reminder to treat other children with respect and resist the urge to bully.
Why didn’t I realize it before?
Kids only have the attention span for one, maybe two, quick lectures at a time, and I was wasting those important morning discussions by insulting their intelligence with “Don’t put your mouth on the water foundation”!?
If I want my kids to be known for one thing at school, it is not that their homework is perfect or that they don’t leave any carrots on their lunch trays. I want them to be known as the kids who are nice to everyone.
That is what is important to me, and that is the principle I want to instill in my kids. I decided to start our day with that same simple reminder.
Yeah, but is he nice?
At the most recent parent-teacher conference, my son’s teacher was telling me about his math skills, reading ability, and hand-writing. I quietly listened, as these are important skills; however, I saved my most important question for the end:
But is he nice to the other kids?
Her warm smile and answer confirmed that we were doing something right. I decided that right then that the one and only thing I would make sure to always tell my kids before school is: “Be nice to other kids.”
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