I discovered pretty early on that kids love to-do lists. Just like adults, they feel that sense of accomplishment when they mark a task as being completed. I began using a chalk board to make daily lists for my children when they were young. Items included school work, chores, and some fun activities. When a friend came by the house one day, he looked at the board. He questioned something on my son’s list. No. 4 read “Be a Stegosaurus”. He was so amused by my choice of words. Why hadn’t I written “Pretend to be a Stegosaurus” or “Act like a Stegosaurus”? I laughed about it at the time as my son roared at us from the other room. How does one Be a Stegosaurus? It involves taking on the characteristics and habits of a stegosaurus. There would be some studying involved. Practicing, emulating, and then being.
I think there’s a pretty good lesson here. If we desire our child (or ourselves for that matter) to become a person of honorable character, why not encourage him to “be” that person? It may seem false to act courageous or honest, or generous if you haven’t practiced those traits before. But it’s the first step to becoming those things.
So, as my children grow older, I no longer make to-do lists for them. But, I pray that they continue to practice the axioms we’ve talked about for years.
As they leave the house each day for school, work and sporting events, I want to give them some encouraging words. I think that rather than “Have a good day” or even “Do the right thing”, I’ll try pumping my fist in the air and shouting “Be a Stegosaurus!”