By: Martianne Stanger
“Who wants to hear about their greatness,” I ask as I glance down at the clock-radio, take a deep breath, and turn the ignition key.
“Me! Me! Me!” A surge of eager voices spills forward from the back of the van, washing away the woes of the moments before we hit the road. Those moments were filled with frustration born from one child who refused to don socks, got distracted umpteen times on his way to the van, and then tried to slam the door behind himself before his sister was fully in the car. They were filled with the poor timing of the girl who, having been told 15 minutes prior to leaving that we needed to head out, decided, at minute 14 that she needed to have a sit down on the potty. Those moments were also full of my youngest kicking me as he playfully squiggled and wiggled while getting his diaper changed.
Yes, the tide of negativity that threatened to spoil our day turned around with one simple practice: Celebrating Greatness.
Sometimes, when we get in the car, I ask the kids who’d like to hear about their greatness. Then, I start off by naming a specific thing that I saw, heard, or otherwise witnessed my children doing that day. Sometimes, I name something that a child did individually. Other times, I mention a special moment when I witnessed them working or playing together. For example:
“Luke, you showed responsibility when you cleaned up your toys without being asked.” (A rare event that I know Luke thought I didn’t notice.)
“Nina, you made Jack’s bed as a service this morning. It makes me smile to see such willingness to help others.”
“Jack, you did your lunch dish today and got your boots on to leave all by yourself. You are really becoming independent. Thank you for taking care of yourself.”
“I saw something so special today…”
“What? What?” the kids are eager to see whose greatness will be described next.
“Well, when Jack was napping, Nina and Luke found something in Luke’s drawer and used it together so happily. Then, when Jack woke up, Nina taught Jack to use it. And, Oh. My. Goodness. It was cleaned up before I even asked for it to be. I don’t know who was the responsible one, but it was so awesome to see all three of you sharing, playing and taking care of your… Do you know what it was?”
“Slamwich! The game!” They respond.
Then, before I go on, one of the kids pipes up with an idea about their own greatness, each other’s and mine. We all bubble forth, noticing and naming one another’s growth, responsibility, skills, cooperation, and service. We feel uplifted, focused on ourselves as positive individuals within a loving team of a family.
Now, I know, this whole “Celebrating Greatness” thing might sound stilted or corny in writing, but in practice, it is not. It is a quick, simple way to reset a day. An activity that makes us all smile. A small conversation that can have big effects!
Celebrating greatness helps each of my children recognize individual strengths. It lets them know I see their efforts to build better habits. It reinforces an attitude of gratitude and a spirit of positive thinking. And sibling rivalry? It even helps a bit with that, as each child gets a chance in the greatness spotlight without being compared to anyone.
Have you noticed your child’s greatness today?