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I take no prisoners when I dish out common sense. I may toss a little humor a student’s way, I may offer up a maternal counselor smile, but still, in the end, I say what I say- I spill all my beans, and I get to the point. And over the years, I have noticed that kids really do appreciate my honesty.
It’s highly rewarding helping mopey little caterpillars turn into cheerful butterflies. Sometimes all it takes is handing a student one powerful, yet potent, observation. Sometimes it takes a long conversation where we dig deep, and then, more deep! I have discovered that kids love “deep.” From one tender munchkin: “I can really use this! It’s so DEEP!”
I get that a lot.
Common sense is my secret weapon. Why? Well, for one thing, kids don’t find common sense preachy. In fact, quite the opposite is true- they often they find it funny. I get called “Yoda” sometimes, and I have to laugh. “I’m not Yoda, I’ve just read a lot of books and been on the planet longer. Of course I have more wisdom.”
More laughter. Kids love that kind of common sense, and usually answer something like: “Okay, that makes sense.” Then they lean in and listen.
Below: common sense advice I’ve dished out often to young people of all shapes and sizes. These life skills tips have helped many a mischievous munchkin, dreary goth, surfer boy, and drama princess find their way. I hope you can use my common sense with your own students whenever you need persuade them to act sensibly.
Tips in a nutshell:
1. Be yourself. It’s so much simpler! It makes no sense not to be your authentic self. If you’re always worrying about what other people will thinking about you, you’re always worrying. Worrying is depressing. Who wants to be depressed? So be brave and let your “weirdness” show. In the end, you’ll be much happier and much less stressed. Bonus result: Kids who don’t care what other kids think of them usually get the most respect.
2. Appreciate your gifts. When you’re good at something, be sure to notice, dig down and enjoy the “happy.” Think: “YAY! I’ve got a gift!” Gifts are special, magical, and worth taking note of. Say “thank you” for using your gift frequently. It feels good to do things we’re really good at!
3. Appreciate your challenges. If you’re not so great at something, even if you horrible at something, this doesn’t mean you are a hopeless person in a hopeless situation! Work hard in your challenging area until you do get better, and don’t give up.
After all, isn’t it fun to, all of a sudden, be good at something that once you couldn’t do at all, all because you worked at it? And wouldn’t life be a snore if everything came easily to all the time? Challenges give us goals that spice life up, they help us grow as people.
4. Bless your mess. You can’t make yourself perfect. Remember that. Nobody’s ever perfect! You can’t make the world perfect either. It’s not going to happen, so get over it. Surrender to those little things you can’t do much about. Chances are, that same whatever that’s really bugging you today won’t matter a week from now anyway. So go have fun and forget about it!
Bless your mess, then clean it up piece by piece at your own pace if you’re inclined to. But whatever you choose to do about the situation, don’t fret over little things that don’t get fixed right away. That kind of mindset will just make you crazy. Learn to embrace the messy situations in life with a whole heart. Learn to enjoy the wisdom you can absorb from each “mess.”
5. Think for yourself. Every culture, family, and peer group create have their own belief system built in. Sometimes you will agree with the attitudes being handed you. Sometimes- not so much. It’s best to check all facts- making sure they are facts, not just another’s agenda, then make you own mind up. Learn to ask: where did this information come from? Do I agree with this point of view? Absorb all the good stuff, but don’t be a sheep. Staying awake is so important these days, as the media bombards us with air brushed photos, reality shows that are half-staged, and pitch corrected singing!
Sub-topic: Who gets to decide what is “cool?”
Example: If blue hair is “in,” and you love blue hair a whole lot, it’s no biggie to color your hair blue. But don’t go blue because Katy went blue. That’s just you being a copycat. Also, please remember: What’s “cool” today is often “un-cool” by tomorrow. So make your own cool!
6. Look for the funny side. ”Whatever” feels better, and a sense of humor saves the day. Learn to say “whatever” more often so you can and feel better right away. Drama is for people with no imagination.
Ponder this: Aren’t funny people the ones you like to be around? Well, hello. You’re around yourself more than anybody else. So make yourself laugh, not cry! Take control of the moods. Because.. whatever!7. Pick friends wisely. Negative friends will bring you down. Positive friends make supportive comments, and give you hugs- way better. Take note: If you always feel bad around a certain person, maybe there’s a reason for that. Maybe they are in the habit of throwing around critical little statements that sound innocent but somehow dampen your mood. Watch out for those kinds of friends who aren’t really friends. If you hang out with happy people, their glow rubs off, and you get get happy!
8. Do Jumping Jacks. This sounds silly but it works. If you’re feeling down, get up and do ten jumping jacks. If that doesn’t work, go hug a tree, because getting physical changes up energy. Dance around, get off your bottom and on your feet! Singing does something awesome to brain chemistry. So sing a happy song!
9. Give others the benefit of the doubt: If someone says something to you that stings, but then explains they didn’t mean what they said the way you took it, give them the benefit of the doubt. Words mean different things to different people. Don’t hold on to hurts that shouldn’t be there in the first place. That’s just your mind playing games looking for drama. Holding a grudge will just leave you mopey and miserable.
10. Collect life wisdom. The more you learn, the more empowered you are, and the more choices you actually end up with. Deeper wisdoms allow a person to understand life better, to understand other people and themselves. Feeling like we “get it” and totally understanding complicated life situations helps us forgive others, forgive ourselves, and plan what to do, if needed, to allow us to fix the problem or just move on and enjoy our day. Understanding others better also helps us know what to say to another person to communicate more clearly. Wisdom rocks- so study up!11. Be generous with praise and forgiveness. Tell a friend her dress is pretty. Forgive your brother. Like your face.
12. Stay away from sugar. It will make your moods weird.
13. Police your head. Our mood is dictated, pretty much, from the last thought we had. Often we forget this and think lazy thoughts that bring us down. Not because we want to feel sad or un-brave, just because we have a lot of mindless chatter going on in our head saying things like: “I’m dumb,” “I’m fat,” “so-and-so said something about me to so-and-so, I’m sure of it!” Oh please. There are better places to place one’s brain. So police your thoughts. Always make sure what you’re thinking is the truth, don’t just go along with any silly blah blah running around in your head.
14. BE NICE! I saved this for last because it’s extra important. Here’s why: When you are kind, nice, giving, thoughtful, helpful, positive, loyal to your friends, and generous with others, the world reflects your charity right back at you. Think of the world as a giant mirror- what you give, you get! It’s as simple as that- so give a lot. Kindness is powerful!
Bonus tip: And don’t forget to notice every miracle. Life is a present.
This freebie empowerment poster lists all the tips above. Remind students they have the power to fill every day with common sense!
This poetic freebie inspires students to be themselves. Seize the day!
Have a magical new school year!