Growing the Golden Rule

As the group of first graders took to the risers this afternoon, their music teacher asked them, “What are some things we need to remember for today?” One child said ‘Sing from your chest.‘ Another said, ‘No touching each other‘. Another said, ‘Stand up straight and tall‘. A little guy that’s been with my daughter for three years raised his hand and said, ‘No negatives‘…The teacher asked him to explain to everyone what he meant. He described it as ‘Don’t say no. Don’t say don’t do this or don’t do that’…

Here is a little on how that breaks down…

It is the running theme in her school that all the parents, staff and students work together to support what they call Socio-Emotional health.

It’s an environment of inclusion but also one where they are taught ‘everyone may not be *where* you are’, and the needed acceptance for others including themselves, and tolerance for matters that, quoted in their student produced video, “we may not understand now, but we will!” They are learning that their school community, which is a large portion of their life experience, very closely mirrors that of what they will experience later outside the confines of what is, now, comfortable and reasonably controlled and mediated.

We were provided a list early in the year that accompanied the video, on ways we could help augment the coping skills the children are learning at school. A great deal of it focuses on support of anger and frustration. Emotions in children that are often taboo and brushed aside as unnecessary, out of line or just plain irritating…lack of proper rearing even. It got me thinking just how adults are, much later on, still so intolerant of each others frustration and anger. You don’t want to hear it. See it. Surely, you’ve got better things to do. No time to field blame. Most of all, you just don’t want to deal with it. Sounds a lot like a parent put upon by their child’s untimely outburst doesn’t it. I’ve read in the past that having to deal with the big emotions of our kids is so off putting because, at the core, it is “upsetting the grand plan”. For the day. The week. Life. Whenever. And I certainly agree. When we feel anything, we are merely an inconvenience to others. I fear my daughters growing into women who feel either inconvenienced by others emotions, or are worried that feeling anything makes them a burden.

We are nobody’s Fall Guy, that’s true, but as humans we do have to be accountable. The reality is, in order to be emotionally healthy, *kind* adults, we can’t simply ignore each others feelings. That isn’t what we would want for ourselves, is it. So, along with learning how they can support one anothers trials, a lot of the work they do stresses validation that what they feel *is* normal. And they learn to accept themselves in spite of their off days. And they are learning to express their feelings clearly and reasonably. We always tell our children “use your words”. Sounds ridiculous if we were to say that to grown ups. But there are many who will not simply use their words. Then the lack of understanding they feel grows to power plays, pouting and expecting others to pander to us in order to draw our emotions out. Which leads to more frustration when not received. It would seem we would all want to be understood. To have a voice. To be able to say I Feel…and have it be okay.

This healthy communication is stressed with the help of things like learning supportive listening, and practicing empathy. They teach this with the instruction “imagine walking in someone elses shoes.” This is easy enough for children to do. Adults can be mindful of it from time to time as well. Also, Breather Boxes. A collection of shoeboxes with activities to calm yourself and recenter when you aren’t feeling your best. Writing it out is always encouraged. Counting. They’ve learned basic yoga and self guided meditation to help themselves as well. My daughters favorite part of the box is the little hand mirror so she can see herself when she’s feeling off. And recognize it.

…Back to ‘No negatives.‘ This is a focused communication wherein the children state their needs in any situation by telling someone how they can help, how they can learn or how they can understand, without saying the word Don’t. It’s a positive reprogramming where, in music class, they wouldn’t say ‘don’t slouch’. They would say ‘stand up nice and tall’. In class they wouldn’t say ‘don’t hog the ipad’. They would say ‘it is my turn now’. And with a friend they wouldn’t say ‘don’t do it that way’. They would say, ‘try it this way’. I hollered at my daughter in the bathroom during an event a few weeks ago. She was heartbroken, but she said, ‘talk normal’. As much as she, even as a child, probably felt drawn to say ‘don’t yell at me’. So I did. I talked normal. I apologized. Profusely. We work together on the big picture of communication. That’s what I would want from her.

These are all basic pieces of softening ourselves. The world can be cruel, but it is just that. One World. We are all here together. Softening doesn’t make us victims or door mats. Speaking respectfully even through anger and frustration makes us healthier emotionally. Tolerance and patience help us meet others where they are. Awareness helps us take responsibility when we’ve been unkind. Understanding helps us know and accept ourselves and others. That it is okay to need support. Teaches us to *be* supportive. To emote without being coaxed into it, or forced to hide it. And to walk in someone else’s shoes when we aren’t too busy walking in our own.

Kindness is where fulfilling expression meets empathy. And everyone has the time for it.

Sam

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45 thoughts on “Growing the Golden Rule

  1. I love this!! I love that the school is teaching the kids these awesome skills. I love how you wrote this. We definitely need more kindness!! Is it okay if I re-blog this?
    💌💌💌

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    1. Absotootly, lol. Thank you!!! It was a little hidden lesson today at music open house!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Those surprise gems help us get through the rest of caca life throws at us👍💌

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        1. 😂😂😂 Case and point, the boy who spoke up with wisdom was the same one hacking a lung onto my daughter for an hour and we will all probably have the plague next week but this is what I call EVEN STEVEN!!!

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          1. I’d have to agree. King Ben brought a Kootie home 2-3 weeks ago and we’re all still sick.
            *Some* sharing is NOT okay😷😂

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  2. Reblogged this on King Ben's Grandma and commented:
    Some small ones are learning lessons on how to be kind to themselves and others. These are things we grown-ups (?) should practice too.
    Sam says it better…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Isn’t this interesting, and timely. My 7th grader just brought home this exact ‘project’…same topic. And we’re not even in the same country! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s great! I think all the change of our current world has put so much into effect at this level. The school’s “moto” as she puts it, stresses responsibility, respect and safety. If you are those three things, all else can grow from it. Crucial building blocks to being a good human! We participated in the Generosity Project this year too and that did so much for their self esteem. I found a little set of round cards that had a lot of the same principles on them that we’ve just started. It’s so amazing how that pride and responsibility brings a greater level of confidence and happiness in everything! Free medicine, lol!

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  4. This is really fantastic! I would love to set this basis up for my kids as well! (And for some adults I know). A few years ago I recognized how much I hated the word “no” in my work correspondence – so I made the conscious effort to never answer an email or text with the word “no.” I would word my response differently to get my message across. I love how your daughter and her classmates have learned that skill to not use negatives! And all the other things they are learning – wow! Really great!

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    1. Thank you! I’ve inspected No Negatives from many angles since I heard it. And I weighed it against what a lot of adults are just now learning…”No is a complete sentence”. And it is. And what I come up with is, “No” creates the boundaries for yourself. Whatever that needs to entail. It is necessary at times. “No Negatives” helps the people around you grow and reinforces connections with the people who make up your community. It’s sort of like…a side job after taking care of yourself! To support others!

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  5. This is such a good program, Sam ! Should be the foundation in all schools – and work places for that matter 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think it should too! I hear of people trying to reinforce morale of office teams similarly and people take *offense* to the inconvenience or the training itself! “Why do we need this?” Everybody needs this!

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      1. Would change the culture, and that’s what is needed.

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  6. This is great, Sam. Reblogging it 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Great post and great lesson. This should be highlighted more

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I reblogged this too. First time I’ve EVER done that. One of your best posts of all time.

    Oh if more people only understood and cared how much their own mental/emotional health impacts others. We would all be kinder, I think.

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    1. Thank you!!! I agree, I know the changes I’ve seen in her this year alone when I face her with being accountable with the credo. She tends to look at most things as “are they in line with the motto”. Each week they have a schoolwide community meeting and talk about incidents or scenarios and the way things were either handled well or how they could have helped improve a situation. Learning to be responsible for others gets blown out of the water with this ignorant anti relationship meme culture that basically preaches “i dont need you and your feelings are not my responsibility” type things. Well…maybe so but it doesnt mean you get to willy nilly fire pistols in the air in the town square and not be accountable either…to take part in the world and reap any reward of it, you need to support and respect it too.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It all goes back to that inevitable and difficult fine line between self care and autonomy, and being a decent human being. It’s so hard to not swing too far in either direction because they both feed different parts of ourselves. Such good insight here and so impressed she is learning so young.

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  9. This *really touched my heart. Out of all of the humans in the world…. children are the ones, ‘hushed’ the most. They are taught to keep quiet and not be expressive, to “behave”, let alone, open their heart to another. Indeed, a person whose child has a meltdown is looked upon as a parent with no control…..then we wonder why so many kids grow into adults that are incapable of using their words and communicating how they feel….*without feeling guilty. Listening, without eye rolls and feeling burdened…. because they aren’t being taught as kids, that they have the right to feel and be understood, and they have the responsibility, to *feel for others, and learn to understand the ‘whys’ of another, and where they are coming from. I love that her school recognizes the importance of teaching healthy communication at a young age.

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    1. I was thinking about this when we were sharing meltdown stories. How bad I feel for parents afraid they will be judged for their child having a breakdown. How bad i feel for the child to know they have to “behave” but *can’t* keep controlled. And I always realize all of it comes from hurt and things that they cant express other ways. And feeling like a burden or embarrassment just grows more frustration. It made me think about how many adults are hushed for feeling something, or made to feel guilty for it. Just like kids often are. Or adults who can’t get close to anyone who isn’t a walking emotional coma. If your needs are never met, you can’t learn to meet the needs of another.

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      1. Yes! That conversation was so important. We live in a very competitive society, where even the human condition is grounds for competition and sickening harsh judgement. I remember when Jeh was a baby, I was strolling through the baby isle of Target and he started screaming. He needed Pampers, a sippy cup and a serious nap. This Mom kept walking past me giving me the most disgusting looks, like…I could not ‘control’ a baby. Even as I consoled him…her looks would not quit. I learned quickly that kids, no matter the age, even adults, are forever learning how to express our feelings. Even the lady whom was disgusted with me. Her expression with her own feelings were hurtful with someone else. Rather than learning to understand, she quickly judged. She wanted me to keep him quiet. To leave so that she could enjoy her shopping experience. I did leave. AFTER, I purchased his Pampers. I was not raised to express. I had to learn how, through pain, mistakes, life changes, and being given the allowance to say how I feel and not apologize. Having your feelings understood as a child, helps you to grow up, building and establishing healthy relationships. When a kid knows that they will *still be loved after the meltdown, the tantrums, the screams….and they’ll be understood…their hearts will be more open to learning how to listen and how to use their words, and piece those feelings together through words. And they won’t feel guilty.

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        1. 😭😭😭 Absolutely! My kids have gotten used to me saying “uh oh, someone’s sad!” when a baby or toddler is throwing a fit. Joe used to sort of bug her eyes out like she couldn’t believe it a kid was acting up. Nowadays she will say “they must need food!” 😂 And if that’s even a little shift in tolerance or understanding because she’s been there herself, that’s healthy! And in the future she won’t allow anyone to say or think “wow, sucks to be those people”. And you’re exactly right…you were disturbing that lady’s peace. That was all she cared about. Not that you may have, God forbid, needed some help or even a smile.

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          1. “They must need food!” 😂😂😂😂 Most of the time that is the truth. Lolol. That is a huge shift for a child. And the fact that she is only 6 and says *that, rather than plugging her ears, is her being such a big girl. You’re raising your babies well. These are hard lessons for kids, and it takes time. It’s up to those closest to them to give them that daily lesson of tolerance. And most of the time those lessons are learned by how much we understand *them. I needed a kind word, and yes, even a simple yet, meaningful smile. That is all people need sometimes…that gift of empathy and understanding.

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            1. I was going to say, any little thing would have taken the pressure off. It heightens the already stressful when we feel like we’re irritating everyone or that our kids are. Then we get mad at them and they suffer more. Then they arent learning patience and tolerance cause its not being modeled! It’s gross!

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            2. **Any** little thing. The lady walking around behind her had a little girl. And she says; “Mommy the baby is crying!” Her Mom calmly says…”He’s probably sleepy.” And she went about her business. That encounter was so peaceful, because, she was calm. She was not judging me. She understood, and she was setting an example for her daughter. I’m not even sure if the other lady was a Mother. Yes, the kids get the anger more, because we’re trying to give impatient adults with the lack of understanding, their peace. It *is gross.

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            3. Just about every day someone apologizes to me for their kid bumping me, cutting me off, screaming…something. i just point to the girl child and say ‘hey, I’ve got one too’. I don’t have much grace for rude or mean but just about anything else, i get it.

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            4. Right. Whenever a parent apologizes, I say, please don’t be sorry, it’s perfectly okay. Anyone with a kid or kids, should identify with those anxious parental moments, where we feel bad, and have mercy towards one another.

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            5. You mean you dont like catching parents shaking their head at you or your child?? Come on now! ☠☠☠

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            6. That too!!!!😲😲😲 Ugh! When I was new to Mom life, I was more mouthy, concerning parenthood. I was living off of 3 hours of sleep per day, with a new baby, so *everything* made me anxious. That head shaking, got to me back then. I would ask anyone that would dare do it (which wasn’t that often)…do you have a problem? Not the greatest time. I feel for parents when they start getting anxious about their kids, in public.

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            7. I’ve never address anyone because I can’t be sure I’m not wrong. And there’s also always that “did that really just happen” moment where you think you just *HAVE* to be wrong! And you don’t want to overreact. I am guilty though of telling one or more of my kids “I guess we’re irritating people today”. Lame. Then I never have to see them again. I did run back into that heifer who instructed her kids to cut us on Fiesta night then grinned about it…Apparently they go to our school. Glad I found out as late as possible. Like yesterday.

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            8. I would never address anything like that now….more than I would, just ignoring it. If people are bold enough to give digruntled looks, then perhaps they should be adult enough to ‘use their words’, and be honest. But, who will be *that bold. Oh geeze, the line cutter😬. *That is absolutely a NOPE, towards the parents. We can’t purposely teach our kids bad habits. I’ve seen adults cut line and not think twice. Gross. ‘I guess we’re irritating people today’s😀. To be in that position to even need to say that, is completely frustrating and unfair. People must raise Monks for children. At least you had those delicious chicken tacos. No. Not at least. They looked good though. 😁

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            9. I just uncovered all the pics I took of the food that night! 😂😂😂 I was so sick. And found out my daughter doesnt like chocolate mousse but ate creme puffs and a stack of cheese cubes. For some reason there was no Greek table…but why? 🤔 Polka and salsa lessons but no spinach pie

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            10. Omg! Spinach pie is so good. You found food pics 🙌 I was going to do a salivating emoji, but I don’t think I have one 😁. Polka and Salsa lessons merge well together. I once saw this video where a River Dancer and Flamenco dancer did a show together. It was *Beautiful*😍 Well you can’t go wrong with cheese cubes and cream puffs either. We have a Greek festival around here every year. I always want to go to it, and it always passes by the time I remember. That chicken looked perfectly shredded.😀

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            11. Our Greekfest just passed but I don’t go because it’s one of this areas MOST crowded events. Bluesfest, Art Fair and the Taste as well.

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            12. That’s the one thing that keeps me away from these huge events. The large crowds, and the many branches of unnecessary chaos involved with that. All of the community ends up going. But that’s one I would go to, just once.

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  10. Wow Sam! What a progressive, enlightening school climate! I love it! You are giving your kids all the necessary tools to make their lives more fulfilling! Again, what a great dad you are! What amazing young women you are raising! Yay!

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    1. It really is. I’ve learned to not take it for granted for one second! It’s the ‘whole person’ education that is so important. 🙌🙌🙌

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  11. Excellent post! The schools must be a place that ‘co-parent’ now a days and need to help kids learn important lessons for life. I work in a school now and I see how many kids are floundering. It takes a village to raise healthy humans–we ALL are responsible for every bad thing that happens. Thanks for reminding us. xo

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    1. Thank you! Absolutely! Emotional intelligence is so important in guidance and growth of the whole person! I think what a difference she’s living compared to myself at her age. We were all flying very blind, and very alone. No adults at school knew about home life or individual struggles or challenges. Not to mention worrying about teaching us how to coexist with one another!

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