Do we want our children to speak like Trump or Clinton or Kelly Anne Conway or Kimberly Guilfoyle or Jimmy Carter? Distrust politician speak? Hope your kids don’t learn to talk like that? Also worried they might go the other way and not know how to ask for what they need or fend off aggression? As a parent, how do you ensure your child develops a good, balanced way to speak and navigate amongst their peers? Do you or their nanny or their Kindergarten have a structured curricula for that?
Behaviors and value systems take root early and it is important to inculcate good principles starting with the kindergarten years. Later on, too many other factors influence children, or they will already be formed and unlikely to change too much. Between beleaguered kindergarten curricula and disorganized care givers, there is a good chance your child will never form a clear foundational value system and will merely imitate or attempt to cope.
Traditionally, inculcating a value system has been left to hands-on mentoring by parents or grand parents with their ideologies, principles and best efforts. Sometimes, books and other media are brought into the mix to reinforce some ideas. What has been lacking is a set of books that followed a well thought framework of social and emotional learning. Could such books also be fun? Could they also bring in other important learnings?
Merely speaking nicely or politely is not enough. Leaders use the “THINK” principle as a way to be transparent, inspiring and to move their followers in constructive directions. People who successfully use it build their own reputations and even have tough conversations. Few kids’ books remark on it or teach it and even fewer teach how to stand up for oneself. In fact, few parents or grandparents have heard about it. If you went looking for kids book that teach kids to speak well then you might find these or just a bunch of books talking about race.
The THINK principle is simple. Consider if what you are about to say is True, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary and Kind. THINK before you say it. Clearly Donald Trump never does! Chances are if it does not meet these criteria, what you say will not have much effect. So how does one convey this to a young child? Here is an entertaining book that adroitly retains interest while teaching the principle, showing it in practice, and displaying its effect on those being spoken to. It also showcases some amazing lowland gorillas with habitat appropriate names.
Here is another photo story book as opposed to merely a picture book that showcases a real family of mute swans with eight cute cygnets. With so many siblings, the mother swan has to encourage some of the more timid ones to stick up for themselves as their siblings grab and push for opportunity. The scenarios in the book show aggressive teasing, angry opportunism and unfair pushiness. It shows how in each scenario the more timid cygnets learn to gently but firmly speak up for themselves.
Kindergarten curricula is much researched, cited, published and justified. Usually it just contains objectives and frameworks for language, math, science, history and social science. It simply does not include anything specific about ensuring kids grow up to be good. There are organizations like CASEL proposing and propagating a framework for social and emotional learning. However, they are fighting for widespread acceptance. Implementation will only come years later. And while nannies and other care givers may talk a good game, it is really up to the parent to ensure some framework for learning to be good exists and that the child is going through it. Don’t let your child learn to talk like the Donald or yell like the Guilfoyle or be a shrinking violet.