My 3-year-old is chatty. It’s just that his go-to subjects are these beautiful, nonsensical ramblings about firetrucks, train whistle noises, Paw Patrol, and our pets.
I was shocked the other day when he spotted one of his personal heroes, our 7-year-old neighbor, across the yard and yelled with perfect diction, “Hello Max! It’s good to see you. How are you today?”
My mom had been babysitting him while I worked that day. I wondered if she snuck him off to a future-diplomat boot camp. Turns out they watched an episode of Daniel Tiger about “polite greetings.”
I have to tell you. Our neighbor was downright charmed by the special treatment.
These polite greetings, as prescribed by Daniel Tiger, they really cut through the bullshit. They simply remind the people you care about and respect that you do just that. The whole exchange was so refreshing after a day of logging into group Zoom calls on mute. Our calendars of nonstop (but well-intentioned) large group video chats have sort of sucked the spirit out of our greetings.
But greetings are so important.
According to a study in the Journal of Positive Behavior, positive greetings at the door of a classroom increased students’ academic engagement by 20% and decreased disruptive classroom behavior by 9%. Saying hello, the person’s name, and doing something nonverbal like smiling or waving promotes a sense of belonging and reduces the stress levels of the person being greeted and of the greeter.
I suspect our ongoing civic duty to stay home and be hermits may have set us back a little here. Let’s look to Daniel Tiger. At least once a day, try for a super well-executed polite greeting.
Look right into the camera, smile and say, “Hello [NAME]! It’s good to see you. How are you today?”
And just see what happens.
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