Last week I was in my son’s kindergarten classroom at the end of the day to bring in cookies to celebrate his birthday with his classmates. He’s my second kiddo in this kindergarten class, so I’ve been in and out of it quite a few times. But last week I heard something I hadn’t heard before. It was the end of the day and the teacher was having all the students gather their belongings. As they were settled in and waiting for dismissal, she asked them to use sign language to say a few things. Sign language isn’t new. Both of my kids have learned it in kindergarten, and I love that it’s part of their curriculum. The sign language wasn’t what got me, though. It was what she had them say.
I am important.
I am special.
I am smart.
Then, in true kindergarten teacher fashion, she said to them, “Boys and girls, remember that you are important, special and smart.”
I found myself overwhelmed in that moment. What a wonderful moment! (And what a wonderful reminder of how much I love their school!) Can you imagine what the world would be like if each of us not only heard but believed those affirmations every day? I don’t know if all the kindergarteners go home to hear those kind of things. I know that we try to speak positively in our house, but I doubt I say those things so clearly to my children as often as I should. The wonderful thing about 5- and 6-year-olds is that they believe these words without feeling embarrassed. They don’t feel a need to explain themselves. They accept them without downplaying them. They listen to them without hearing an inner voice saying that they aren’t these things.
Can you imagine if every day of your life you heard those words and believed them? What if boys in upper elementary struggling with their aggression heard these words every day? What if girls in middle school struggling with body image heard these words every day? What if teenagers facing peer pressure heard these words every day? What if college students struggling to make their way in the world heard these words every day? What if young mamas doubting their momming skills heard these words every day? What if husbands and fathers stressing over providing for their families heard these words every day? What if retirees working to redefine themselves heard these words every day? What if YOU heard these words every day?
You are important.
You are special.
You are smart.
What a difference we would see in our world. I can imagine the change starting in each of us. Having a reminder that we are important, special and smart shifts our attitudes just enough to make a difference. Suddenly we have enough confidence to try new things and not shy away from challenges. Suddenly we understand we are worth taking care of and start living more healthy lifestyles. Suddenly we are free to love others more fully and stop beating ourselves up.
We can easily look at our children and see these truths, but we often miss them when we look in the mirror. I can tell my children they are important, special and smart and believe it 100 percent. When I think of saying them to or about myself is when I start to fade. It’s hard to believe them about ourselves. But God created us. He made us important, special and smart. As I tell my kids, God doesn’t make junk. As our Father, God thinks these things about us and who am I to question the Creator of the universe?!
I have to believe that I’m not the only person who needs to hear these words. And I have to believe my son’s class aren’t the only ones who need to hear them either. Maybe what we need to do is learn a lesson from kindergarten and tell ourselves these things every single day. Isn’t it at least worth a try? I sure think so!