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moody_stoplight_poster-p228686860434805885tdcp_400I have two boys in elementary school. I absolutely love their school and I adore their teachers. I could not have asked for better teachers! In case you didn’t know, most early elementary school children come home with a folder everyday with their color stamped inside. It is an indication of how they behaved today. Red, yellow, and green doesn’t quite cover it. In today’s classroom, behavior can range from purple (superior behavior), pink, blue, green, orange, yellow, and finally red (uh-oh!).

There is part of me who needs to see the color. I need to know how my children behaved today. I appreciate the effort their teachers make to let me know how the day went. I want to reinforce at home the teacher’s status as an authority figure. What I have realized though, is that I have made a terrible mistake in convincing my children that their value is in their color. I have led them to believe the most important thing about their day is their color on the piece of paper in their folder.

So I am changing things up a little. I do want them to behave…I truly do. We still discuss it, but it is no longer the first thing I ask them when I see them. When I get them in the car I say…”I have missed you today!” Maybe even, “I am so glad to see you!”  Or how about, “I am excited to hear about your day!” There are 1000 better things to ask than…”Welcome home….were you bad today??”

The last thing I want my children to believe about themselves is that my love for them depends on the choices they make. I have had to say again and again to my older son, “I love you no matter what color you are today.”  I am trying to undo what I did his first years of school. So maybe one day when he is older and makes a mistake much bigger than being off task, or playing in the bathroom, he will tell me. He will know that I love him no matter what. Red, Yellow, or Green.