The importance of a greetingPublished 5:06pm Saturday, April 12, 2014
QUESTION: Please remind people of the importance of a friendly greeting, especially for the children in our community.
ANSWER: A 4-year-old and his mother walked through the door of the child care center. The little boy’s eyes were wide with apprehension.
I asked if I could help them. The little boy reached for his mother’s hand and tucked his head into her leg. This was Joey’s first day. I knelt down beside him to say, “Hi” and Joey covered his eyes in shyness. I said, “I’m glad you’re here, Joey,” and his mother and I led the way to his new classroom. I noticed how each of the teachers came down to Joey’s level to greet him. Joey’s mother commented on the friendly welcome.
Every day for the following two months, I greeted Joey and his mother in the hallway. Our morning arrival times seemed to match up. When I saw him in the hallway during the day, I made the point to say, “Hi.” Even though Joey wasn’t a part of my class, we made a connection. Day by day, Joey started to change.
I noticed that now Joey was walking into the building with more confidence in his stride. The reaching for mom’s hand slowly stopped and was substituted with a wave and then a verbal “Hi.” I continued with the hellos and goodbyes, a wave here and there and a touch on the shoulder when I walked by. Joey started to call me by name. If I was involved in a conversation, Joey would make sure I noticed him with a quick wave.
Joey’s self-esteem appeared to be moving in a positive direction.
Greeting children in our care is one of the most important things we can do as teachers and caregivers. It starts the day with a special connection that builds relationships. A farewell at the end of the day is equally as important. Goodbyes tell a child, “We had a great day. I can’t wait to spend the day with you tomorrow.” It can make children feel important and give them a sense of belonging. A greeting gives a warm, friendly feeling whether we are giving or receiving.
Observing Joey today, I believe the daily greetings that we shared were important to him. I say that because I notice the sincerity in the greetings he gives to people at his after-school job at the grocery store, although the people who are smiling in return are calling him Joe, now.
If you would like to talk with a parenting specialist about the challenges in raising children, call the toll-free Parent WarmLine at 1-888-584-2204. For free emergency child care, call the Crisis Nursery at 1-877-434-9599. Check out www.familiesandcommunities.org and the resources at the PRC Specialty Library at 105 First Street S.E., Austin.