Peggy D. Sideratos
"Use Your Smile to Change the World"
Updated: Nov 19, 2019
Hi everybody. I hope you are having a super week.
It’s back to school time. Some kids are getting ready to go back, while others have already begun their 2019-2020 school year. The start of the year is always met with a level of excitement and some anxiety. Most kids are excited to see some of their friends who they have missed during the summer and are a little anxious about meeting their new teacher/teachers. Some children, however, are experiencing a little more anxiety than others. This may be especially true for those who have moved and are starting a new school, and maybe for some that are not new to the school, but are quieter, shyer or teased by others. I think this is the perfect opportunity to encourage children to begin “Spread a Smile Week.” In fact, I think the whole family should get in on this activity. Each day, for one week, the challenge is to make one person smile that day. Smiles are easily spread; sometimes by just smiling at another person, they respond with a smile. Other times, they are a result of saying or doing something kind, like holding the door for somebody or telling someone, “Have a nice day.” Explain to the children that smiling causes wonderful physical benefits to people. Smiling releases feel-good neurotransmitters, including dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin, and can reduce stress levels, helping people feel less anxious. Blood pressure and heart rates lower as well. (For younger children, you may say that smiling makes others feel much better and helps their body to work better.) Each day take a minute and ask your child, “Were you able to make somebody smile today?” and ask them how it happened. Ask them how it made them feel, because smiling and its benefits are usually contagious. Remind them in the morning to look for people around them that day who could use a smile. And don’t forget to share what you did or said to make somebody smile that day.
This activity, while simple, may help reduce some of your child’s anxiety, may increase their confidence and can teach children to be more perceptive of others and their emotions. Give it a try and see how it goes. You may decide as a family to do this for a few weeks, a few months or even for years.
The Light Giver and Other Stories to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children
The Light Giver Stories Workbook