You can teach your children this lesson in a day or over the course of a few days. Either way, it’s a concept that should be modeled and discussed throughout their childhoods.
Start by saying to your children, “I want you to think of someone you know that everyone feels comfortable, happy, and safe around. I’m not a mind reader and you are probably all thinking of different people, but what I DO know about the people that you’re thinking about is that that person knows one really important thing in their head……..” (It’s the phrase, “Everybody is equally important.”) Keep your children in suspense.
Then play a game of hangman against your children and on the paper write the blanks for the phrase: “Everybody is equally important.”
Once the entire phrase gets filled in reiterate that, “Yes, the reason this person is so beloved by everyone is because he or she knows that everybody is equally important. He or she walks into a school building or a grocery store and treats everybody as important. We can do the same.”
Tell your children, “There are two paths in life. One path is called the ‘Only Me’ path, and the other path is called the ‘Me Plus Others’ path.”
Draw a picture of a fork in a road. Write “Only Me” as the destination on one path and “Me Plus Others” as the destination on the other path.
Then say, “When a person travels the ‘Only Me’ path, all they are thinking about is me, me, me – what’s good for me, how could I do things for me?”
“And when a person is traveling the ‘Me Plus Others’ path, they are thinking, ‘How could I take care of myself AND others?’”
Then use the following questions to guide discussions.
Q: Which path do you think is easier?
Answer: The “Only Me” path is easier because a person sits back and does nothing to come out of him or herself to think about others.
Q: Which path do you think is more enjoyable and fulfilling and why?
Answer: The “Me Plus Others” path is more enjoyable even though it’s hard work because hard work is good for us.
Tell your children that when babies are a few months old and they are learning how to turn from their stomachs to their backs they push on the floor and work very hard with their muscles. You as the mother did not come to rescue them even though they were working very hard.
Q: Why does a mother who loves her child very much not come to rescue this baby from hard work?
Answer: Because it’s good for the child. Once they can turn over, they can begin to crawl, then walk, and this opens up the whole world around them.
Say, “Many people run away from hard work because they don’t realize how good it is for them, but in our family we are very smart so we choose the strong healthy path, not the easy path. Now let’s examine what happens on each of these two paths.”
Include Sidebar: “Only Me” vs. “Me Plus Others”
I say whatever I want (Explain how this could hurt others – give an example.)
I try to get everything for myself
I make myself bigger
My own fun is #1
Result: People are not comfortable around me
Me Plus Others
I work hard not to say hurtful things (because I know we are both important)
I try to make sure everyone gets
I treat everyone as important.
Everyone’s feelings are #1
Result: More REAL friends