How A Daily Challenge Changed My Relationship With My Child

by Jessie Ford
Originally Published: 
Rebecca Nelson / Getty

Every single day I drop my daughter off at school, I say a little prayer in my head that I will be able to pick her up safely at the end of the school day. That is the new normal whether we accept it or not.

As one mom in a world full of mothers and fathers everywhere, I’m not always sure what I can be doing to make positive change. I can join groups, I can go to protests, and I can call my government representatives, but none of that seems to give me anything meaningful in return. I still feel pretty helpless, and useless even, in this domestic war on keeping our schools and children safe.

The Daily Challenge

A few months ago, I started this thing with my 7-year-old daughter. A daily challenge. On top of reminding her to be kind and respectful in school and to stay safe, the daily challenge was meant as something a little extra for her to work on and provide meaningful conversation after school.

The super simple concept started because I was sick of her bringing home her lunchbox full of food she hadn’t eaten. Her first challenge was to eat her lunch. After a few days of reporting back that she had, she earned a small reward. She also yearned for more challenges.

The daily challenge may have started with her lunch intake, but then went on to lots of other meaningful things. Some days we do one challenge and other days we have 2-3 challenges.

Together we thought of some more challenges she could work on, like:

Give someone a compliment today.

Play with a new friend.

Introduce yourself to someone you never met at school before.

Sit with different friends at lunch today.

Tell your teacher thank you before you leave for the day.

Find a friend on their own and go sit or play with them.

Make up a new game and invite your friends to play it with you.

Tell a friend why you like playing with them.

Ask your teacher if there is anything you can help them with.

Say good morning/afternoon to the principal.

Every day at school pick up, I ask her about her challenge and she tells me how it went. Listening to her tell me how she made someone smile or how a new made-up game is now a favorite always makes me incredibly happy inside.

Not only am I sharing something special with her, but I am able to get away from the stereotypical “how was school today” questions. I can tell how her day has gone just by the glow she emits telling me about her challenge successes.

The daily challenge has made me finally realize what I can be doing to help.

Better Communication and Knowledge

These daily challenges are so incredibly important for our bond and for me as a mother. Even though we’ve always been blessed with a great mother/daughter relationship communication-wise, it helps solidify that even more. It encourages us to keep talking and her sharing about her day — something I never want to change as she gets older.

I absolutely love talking with my daughter, and knowing what is going on in her world helps me know how she’s genuinely doing. It also allows me to step in if I need to, as someday she could share something that she may think is innocent but could be a red flag we can deal with, together.

Kindness Matters

As simple as these daily challenges are, they could be really important for someone who needs something. What if every day we challenged our children to sit with someone who’s all alone? What if we told them to find a new friend? What if our children were asked to give one person a compliment every day? That type of kindness could mean the world to someone who needs it.

If we teach our children to be kind, every day, in some way, maybe other students will have something more to live for. Let’s face it, the next potential school shooter is out there in a school somewhere, so you never know who’s life could have a positive change due to simple kindness.

Kindness doesn’t cost money or require laws. It just is. Kindness could truly matter.

Though these daily challenges started off in an inconspicuous way, they have really changed the way I look at things. No longer am I thinking there is nothing I can be doing. As a parent, the most important thing I can be doing is raising my children to be better humans.

Show them how to be kind by setting good examples and encourage them to be kind every day.

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