Influencers start young
I was Skyping with my daughter late one night due to some serious jet lag and asked her how the Little Guy was doing in school. "School" is day care, but Little Guy's parents wisely planted the seed that he was going to school to play and learn, thus creating the expectation of something really good happening twice a week!
My daughter took a heartbeat to reply. Daily 'school' reports track Little Guy's nap time, snacks and lunch, as well as the other necessary thing parents need to know about a toddler's day. But a recent report shared that Little Guy is an instigator, usually in a positive way - which is an influencer by another name. Turns out in the middle of a quiet lunch Little Guy stood up, leaned his hands on the table and said in a serious manner, "We dance."
And began to dance without any music.
Needless to say, the other toddlers left their lunches to join in the dancing.
Little Guy is quite a character -- he has his parents' tender hearts and strong wills. And he is encouraged to use his words for big feelings, as well as to engage in physically creative play. Even though he is not yet two years old, it is evident Little Guy is developing quite a personality and a way with people.
At the end of the story, while we were both laughing, my daughter said, "Mom, I think my son is going to be one of those children who uses his power with other children for good or evil. And I don't know what to do."
I guess "we dance" was not the first evidence of Little Guy's leadership skills.
It is inspiring to know Little Guy's parents are realistic about his character development and looking/planning forward to who he could become. But, at such a young age, what can a parent say or do which will help him along the trajectory towards using all the gifts God gives to him for the good?
Sometimes, parenting is about jingles. You know, those catchy, little songs which keep a product or service in your head? They are also incredibly useful to promote specific precepts, habits or character traits! Good parenting anticipates conversations with children about why specific habits or values are important. But a simple, appealing parenting jingle -- used over and over again -- is a powerful short-hand reminder which children internalize quickly -- especially when they are young.
And I am sure you can think of a number of other jingles used by your parents or grandparents. Maybe even some you are using with your children!
Choose to do good
So, what would Nonna say to a not-quite-two-year-old who is on his way to becoming a real-life influencer? I'd say, "Choose to do good, Little Guy."
He may not get it now, but he will.
With much encouragement,