What My Words Tell My Kids About Them (and Me)

The bell rung. The gates opened. The playground was filled with laughter, hugs and excitement. It was the first day of school. With a big smile on my face and the confidence of a fifth-year teacher, I walked to greet my class. Then the unexpected happened. Overwhelmed by the moment of first seeing his teacher, my young second grader leaped out of line and threw his arms around me. With total admiration he exclaiming, “Mi Maestra!” (my teacher!). I quickly came to realize this sweet boy viewed the whole world through the same lens of elation and excitement that I saw the first moment we met. How, I wondered, could he experience sheer joy every moment of every day? What was his secret? Then I met his mother. Compelled by the moment she raced up to me and threw her arms around me. With broken Spanglish she sang my praises and spoke about her boy as if he could walk on the clouds. Her words were the inspirational soundtrack playing throughout his life. And the songs she sang were those of great respect, admiration and gratefulness.

As I reflect on my own parenting, I often recall this beautiful love song between mother and child. Having full confidence in who he was in his mother’s eyes, this child was an inspiration to everyone around him. I believe this woman's words and attitude told a story of deep respect for herself and deep respect for those around her. Each day I too strive to sing that song to my kids, my husband and myself knowing that the words and melody will fill my family's heart and pour out in their lives.

I sing about…

Their Strengths. Each person has his or her own unique strengths and abilities. Knowing that these strengths are valuable and make a difference is key to continued development.

Other's Strengths. By focusing on the strengths of others, I teach that each person is special and valuable.

Opportunities. Some opportunities are full of excitement. Some are a chance to serve. Some can feel like a nuisance. Yet each day we are given opportunities. How we think about and use these opportunities can change how we view the world.

Teamwork. Most great things were not accomplished by a single individual but by a team. Those who know how to use their own assets and the assets of others for a single goal can accomplish the unbelievable.

Beauty. The world is filled with more beauty than we can comprehend. From the exquisiteness of a cell to the vastness of the cosmos. Beauty is everywhere.

Love. Each day I get to impart the gift of love on my family: To show them that they are my world.

Admiration. Each person has wonderful traits. Focusing on the good qualities of people like you and those with opposing opinions enforces people's unique value.

Strength. People exhibit strength in so many ways. Calmness. Patience. Perseverance. Love. Hope. Might. All are demonstrations of individual strength.

Kindness. The smile of a child has the power to turn a challenging situation into something worthwhile. Choosing to accept and receive kindness can completely change your outlook.

I could write volumes just telling of the songs I choose to sing. Each song trains me to see the world anew and teaches my children how much I value myself, my family and them. By reframing situations, looking for the good and respecting others I can make a soundtrack that can help carry my family through the good times and the bad. What song are you singing today?

Antoinette is a wife and mother of two young boys. In addition to her experience as a parent, Antoinette draws valuable insights from her many years as an elementary school teacher and her masters degree in education. She also offers interactive lessons for preschool and early elementary aged children on her Etsy store, Reason2Discover.

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