Since I go back to work tomorrow and students return to school next Monday, it seems like a good time to reflect on rules, especially those that begin with that word we all hate: DON’T.
When I first started teaching elementary school, Ruth Marcos, our principal, introduced a positive behavior program. Our goal: catch them doing good. As part of the plan, she required that all rules be written in positive terms. Instead of Don’t talk while others are talking…Be courteous. (An opportunity for a vocabulary lesson as well.) No fighting or touching other students…Keep your hands and feet to yourself. Don’t run in the halls…Walk. Every class rule ever written had to be modified to fit the new requirement.
Maybe I would have had more success on DON’Ts if they’d been written in positive terms. Here’s my list of the DON’Ts I wish I’d taken a little more seriously.
Don’t bite your nails. My nail biting habit began when I entered kindergarten so for the next dozen or so years I heard the words, “Don’t bite your fingernails.” Anyone who’s seen my hands can attest to the fact that these words did not result in a change of behavior. Since I still haven’t stopped biting my nails I hate to wear rings because I don’t want to draw attention to my hands. I’d love to wear rings proudly.
Don’t sit on your legs. These words were always followed by a warning that doing so would result in varicose veins. There’s still great debate as to whether crossing or sitting on your legs can cause these ugly and sometimes painful veins to appear, but I wish I’d heeded the warning if doing so could have prevented even one of them from appearing.
Don’t worry about what others think. Much easier said than done! Failure to follow this advice has kept me off the dance floor, and it’s the main reason I cancelled my membership to the YMCA. The conversations regarding how other members dressed and whether they were wearing too much or not enough make-up ended my visits.
Don’t wash your hair after a perm. I guess this is suppose to be common knowledge, but I somehow missed this important direction. As a result I looked like a chia pet for the next three months following my first perm.
Don’t go outside without putting sunblock on your face and hands. Age spots, dry skin, and wrinkles…yuck! They announce to all I ignored this warning.
Don’t hang on to the ski rope when you fall. In the summer after I completed fifth grade, I spent a week on a lake with my best friend, Rosemary. My head was so full of directions about how to get up on skis that I somehow missed what may have been the most important…don’t hang on to the rope when you fall. However, I learn pretty fast. I only did this once!
Don’t eat too much corn. You’ll make yourself sick. This “Don’t” came as I bit in to the third ear of corn, and I suffered as a result of not listening. This applies to other food as well…don’t eat too many of those berries.
Don’t lose sleep over it. Right! Easier said than done. I can lose sleep over most anything. Too excited to sleep. Too worried to sleep. Too tired to sleep. Too nervous to sleep. Would someone please tell how to do this? Put it in positive terms. I’m ready to take some advice.
Don’t drink orange juice after you’ve brushed your teeth. I thought this was a matter of dental hygiene. Of course you don’t eat or drink after brushing your teeth. Little did I know that it also leaves an awful taste in your mouth. Once was enough on this one. No OJ after brushing.
Don’t sail out farther than you can paddle back. We’ve had paddle practice twice this summer. Great wind as we left shore followed by dead calm less than an hour later. The good news…on the lake it’s not possible to sail farther than we can paddle, but I want to keep this in mind as we sail off the coast.
Don’t try to be perfect. Perfectionism is paralyzing. I know on more than one occasion I’ve quit a project because I couldn’t do it perfectly. I’m trying to learn that it doesn’t have to be perfect to be good enough.
Don’t put off to tomorrow what you can do today. I’ve been pretty guilty of this at times. When I just don’t feel like doing something, it’s pretty easy to just put it off for another day. Cleaning, paying bills, doing yard work, shopping, grading papers, the list goes on and on. I’m doing better on this one. Make a plan and stick to it as a way to avoid procrastinating.
So what Don’ts have you ignored?