Lessons from a Kindergarten Class: Be Nice!

1 Sep

I watched the Republican National Convention this week, as I will watch the Democratic National Convention next week. It reminded of a recent conversation I had with my neighbor, a kindergarten teacher. Don’t worry this isn’t an article about my political views or my party affiliation. In fact, I enjoy flipping through all of the cable channels to listen to the spin each one puts on the same speeches so they can read their own names in print the next day. It reminds me of an unruly schoolyard when the teacher leaves a student in charge of the group.

Don’t get me wrong. I love our democratic process and our first amendment right to the freedom of speech. That said, just because we can say something doesn’t mean we should say it. So, what does my neighbor have to do with anything? Well, we were chatting the other day after her summer vacation ended. She had just come home after meeting her kindergarten students and their parents on the first day of school. I asked her what skills they struggle with most often. Instead of saying math or reading, she was quick to say “social skills.”

Well, after this week’s Presidential Convention coverage, it’s no wonder that children have to go to school to be taught to respect one another; speak with appropriate language; be polite and considerate of one another; and to be nice!

So, what are the top four social skills we learn in kindergarten that we should remember as adults?

  1. Understand the difference between right and wrong and recognize and respect authority figures. You can disagree without being disagreeable. Treat others, as you would like to be treated. 
  2. Communicate needs and feelings verbally in a socially appropriate manner and understanding/recognizing that other   people have feelings. Be respectful. Choose your words carefully. Once you say it, you can’t take it back. Never is this truer than in our Internet world.  What you say and do can be saved and viewed for years to come. 
  3. Play independently or in a small group without needing constant supervision. Learn to be a good listener. Be an active listener. Cooperate with others who have differing opinions. Negotiate respectively. Be willing to compromise for a resolution that serves the greater good. 
  4. Learn to take turns, share, converse and play with others without needing to be reminded and uses polite language. Respect one another. Be polite. Use respectful language. Give others the time to share their views and acknowledge their right to be wrong.

Time will tell if we can all learn to be nice. We need to remember that children mimic the behavior of adults. They repeat what adults say and model their behavior. So, let’s just be nicer to one another. Or, perhaps we should all repeat kindergarten?

What are your thoughts?



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