Today, my good readers, I have a challenge to issue to you:
? Think of a child that holds special meaning to you – maybe your son, granddaughter, niece, or your neighbor’s little angel that stops by your house every afternoon asking for a Kit Kat.
? Imagine, if you will, that child’s regular routines on a normal school day. Breakfast, backpack, out to the car, back to the house to put the other shoe on, back to the car, and off to school.
? Then think of the interactions this special child has with adult humans.
Odds are pretty good that this precious child had a good-morning hug and kiss from mom and/or dad, was encouraged to eat breakfast, received reminder (after reminder after reminder) to brush those pearly whites, engaged in some lighthearted conversation about baseball or goats or the solar system or the composition of metals in a fork, snuck in an extra hug and kiss, then went bounding down the sidewalk like Tigger en route to Pooh’s place for some hunny. For the children dear to our hearts, we ensure they get their RDA of love, encouragement, and preparation for each and every day.
For a tremendous number of children, however, Pooh’s hunny jars are empty. Switch your thinking for a moment.
? Consider the roughly 1,000,000 American children that are victims of child abuse or neglect every year.
? Ponder the 10,000,000 children in the U.S. that witness violence in their own homes this year.
? Imagine the 3,000,000 school-age children who have one or both parents incarcerated right now.
We’re talking millions here, people. And what about the kiddos who have less dire, but no less impactful, episodes of neglect, bullying, feelings of worthlessness, and disconnectedness? What do their mornings look like? How might they compare with the routines of the special child you smiled about earlier?
We know facts about the correlation between attitude and altitude: positive thoughts lead to positive results. That’s why motivational sites like BucketFillers101.com exist, why John Maxwell’s books have sold trillions of copies, and why Boston Red Sox fans held on for 86 years until that elusive World Series championship finally did arrive. We agree that we must think positively, create positive images, and act in a positive way....so where did we learn this? From those caring, doting, attentive, supportive adults, that’s where.
If you’re like me and you work in a school with hundreds of children scampering and scuttling about all day long, you’ve had bazillions of opportunities to watch the youngsters arrive at the schoolhouse in the morning. Some disembark from warm vehicles with the music of “I love you” serenading them as blown kisses chase their confident, happy, well-adjusted selves towards themain entrance. Others get off a bus, laughing and giggling with friends as they share stories of puppies, mittens, weekend plans, and basketball scores.
And then there are our hunny-free children. Downtrodden, burdened, exhausted, overwhelmed, disenfranchised, lonely, confused, battered, scared, anxious, depressed......they trudge uncertainly towards the door. We watch them walk. We see the scars in their expressions. The worry shrouds them like a morning fog. Our hearts ache, our empathy is activated, and our concern heightens. “If only,” we tend to think. “If only there were something I could do. Poor thing.” We watch them pass without making eye contact, hardly even breathing. Then we see them walk by a mysterious someone......
7 seconds later
.....and after a similarly mysterious interaction, those same hunny-free children crack a smile. Eyes glint. Shoulders de-hunch. Steps become more sprightly. Britches get yanked back up above the keister. Laughter fills the air. What just 7 seconds ago appeared broken and destined for disaster now shows promise, life, and expression.
What just happened? A caring, dedicated adult just maximized the use of 7 seconds, that’s what.
It only takes 7 seconds to make a child’s day. 7 seconds is all it takes to weave a little love into an ordinary, run-of-the-mill morning routine. Transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary takes just 7 seconds. Tending to a relationship, filling a need, answering a call, cheering a soul.....just 7 seconds.
During those 7 seconds, that caring, dedicated, and not-really-so-mysterious someone could have said something like this: “Good morning, Jacoby! You look like you’re ready for school today. Did you get a new haircut? So handsome-look out world, here comes the pride of Lion- town, Jacoby! Have a good day today, young man.
How long is 7 seconds? Have you ever watched a pretty fast baseball player hit a double? It takes about 7 seconds to run from home to second base. 7 seconds might be a blip to you (it’s roughly 0.008% of a 24-hour day), but it could last a lifetime in the experience of a child. It’s a small investment on our part to fill a bucket, to infuse some positive energy, to generate some forward momentum, and to set in motion events that change lives. And since it doesn’t take too long and it isn’t terribly complicated to implement, a 7 second investment is a relatively easy way to make a humongous difference in the world of a child, a family, a group, a class, or an entire school.
You can make it happen! Just...
Be there. A prerequisite to dedicating 7 seconds to this cause is to be where the children are. Good places might include the cafeteria, the bus line, the front entryway, the main hallways, the playground, the library, the corner crosswalk....anywhere you might find children, especially those you know are in need of some heavy-duty bolstering.
Take the initiative. Go ahead and be the first one to say “Good morning” and offer a hand for a high-five, or “Top o’ the morning’ to ya, laddie” with an over-embellished Irish accent. You needn’t wait for the child to make eye contact or seek you out first, because the odds are against
the neediest children taking those steps – that’s why you’re the professional adult, you’ll step out on that limb first.
Get specific. Learn the children’s names and use them frequently. Hearning your name makes you feel special, like the other person really knows and cares about you. (This works for our neighborhood grocery store clerk, who says, “Thank you for coming in today, Mr. Griswold,” so you return to that store even though the chain three blocks down might save you some hard- earned cash.) Ask them about their families, their pets, their interests....and if all else fails, ask a random question like, “Hey Alonna, which do you suppose grows faster, dandelions or crocuses?” You might have to explain what a crocus is, but that’s part of the experience.
Use compliments. Compliment anything and everything, using specific language. This coming Monday, find a student and tell her she’s got the most beautiful smile this morning. Then, for a week, call her “beautiful” every time you see her. Watch her beam and sparkle before Friday’s lunch.
Commit to it. Brother, can you spare 7 seconds? Chances are you can. Are you willing to? Dedicate yourself to making a positive difference every day. Commit to lighting a child up every morning. Devote the energy to being a beacon in a child’s life. Set aside 7 seconds and watch it work.
It only takes 7 seconds to make a child’s day. What might be the implications of not using those 7 seconds for that purpose?
Article by Pete Hall Education World, copyright 2011