Today I spent some time taking with the husband of one of the teachers I used to work with. I worked as a “one-on-one” with a pre-schooler in her special ed pre-school class. It made me think that it had been while since I pulled from my “everything you need to know you can learn in Special Ed Pre-School” repertoire. And since school just started, the timing is perfect.
In my mind, this one has to do with Boundaries. When I operate with good boundaries, it keeps the good stuff inside me and the bad stuff outside me. I treat myself with dignity by not receiving negativity or untruth from others ( that’s the “outside” part) and by not sharing all my intimate thoughts and feelings with unsafe people (that’s the “inside” part). So here is how it would look at Special Ed Pre-school: A child is trying to color a picture.The girl sitting next to him repeatedly tries to color on said picture. He is getting irritated and it’s clear that his temper is mounting and there is about to be some sort of blow up. The teacher notices the tension building and politely encourages the boy to say, “No thank you, friend” to the culprit. So, the boy turns to the precious little girl and screams in her face, NO THANK YOU, FRIEND!!!”. Minus the volume and tone of the offended child, I really think it’s a pretty good way to diffuse or avoid otherwise delicate interactions. For example, when your child, friend, spouse, student or even an enemy has done or said something that makes you want to knock their block off, you can simply say, “No thank you, friend.” I remember a friend telling me that when he was little, about 5, he would stand on his porch and tell other kids to stay off his property or he was going to call the police! Saying “No thank you, friend” is a less hostile way of telling people to “stay off your property.” A recovery way to say it is, “say what you mean, but don’t say it mean.” Because here’s the deal-you are not responsible for other people’s annoying, offensive or hateful behavior. But you are responsible for yours-even if it’s a reaction to their annoying, offensive or hateful behavior.
It’s completely legitimate to take care of your heart. But establishing boundaries is not the same as building walls. Walls are immovable and impenetrable. Keeping our boundaries flexible allows us to be open and loving with some people and not others. It let’s us receive truth and guidance from some while guarding ourselves from people who are not mature and healthy. And a simple “no thank you, friend” is a positive, kind, respectful response that let’s you act with self-respect and a gracious spirit, in spite of how the other person is acting. Letting your “gentleness be evident to all.” Just try it and let me know how it goes-“No thank you, friend.” (try to avoid the screaming part)