It was a late night in the Rudolph household last week. Kids were screaming, toys were sprawled in every corner, and food was everywhere. It looked as though we were in the middle of a war zone.
After my wife and I spent, what seemed like a lifetime, picking up the disaster, we were able to spend a little time together having adult conversations. Kate, my wife, started off saying someone gave her a compliment about her hair and how awesome that made her feel for the rest of the day. She continued, saying that she has been trying to give people compliments throughout the day as well to share the joy that was brought upon her.
As I thought about this, I couldn’t help but have a flashback to 8th grade. We were on a character development retreat. At one point during the day a kids pool was brought in and put in the center of the couple hundred of us in attendance. Each person was given a pebble. We were to say something that has hurt us in the past and throw the stone in the water. That day we learned about the ripple effect and how one comment can ripple and make an effect on many. It’s funny how I can remember this important event, but I can’t remember any grammar lessons, essays, math or science assignments. My point is sometimes we need to remind ourselves that there is more to life than our “I can statements”, or our learning objectives. Sometimes a kiddo needs a compliment to help them win at the game of life.
Then I got another idea...what if we tried to give a compliment to our kids in our classrooms everyday?Maybe you already do this (that's great!), or maybe you are like me and you might be thinking this is a difficult task, and indeed it is. To be honest, I try to do this with all my students at some point during the day only to find myself failing. I believe the key is to start with the students who really need it. The students who may not have a solid home life. The students who don’t have a dinner at night and breakfast before school. The students who go home and maybe sit in front of their tablet or other gaming devices with little interaction with others. These are the students who need the positive attention right away, these are the students who need the compliments to help them get through the day. After I compliment these kids, I work throughout my room, and make it a point during the period to make an honest attempt to reach all students and give a compliment to them. You never know how far it could go. Will they spread that compliment with others and brighten the days of many?
The next time I watch my kids swim in their kiddy pool, or the next time I try teaching them how to skip a rock, I will be brought back that 8th grade character ed day, and I will remember the importance of a compliment. After all, it’s all about the kids!