Children need to feel welcomed when they enter a room. If ignored, it can inadvertently send the signal that the person is not welcome or worse, not even noticed. This applies at home as well as at school

We greet with words, with actions, and with nonverbal body and eye language. Does anyone remember the clever hand greeting between Annie James and her chauffeur in the movie, Parent Trap? Her twin, Hallie Parker, had to learn it exactly if they were going to be able to pull off their charade and switch families. If you notice they were smiling when they did the routine.

Some teachers have established innovative ways to greet the children in their classes. Most importantly, they greet each child each day.

One teacher of adolescents created a unique handshake for each student. He stands at the door of his class and greets each one in their special way. Although I admire that style it is not one that would work for me. I would spend more time worrying about my handshake memory than actually welcoming the student.

Some elementary teachers have created a visual they hang right at the doorway. It includes a heart, a fist-bump, a handshake, and a high-five. As each child enters, they touch the greeting they would like from the teacher that day. I love that they get to choose and I like the variety of options. You could add a wave, a bow/curtsy, or a mind-meld. Any options are fine so long as the child is greeted every day in a way that matches their comfort level.

Why every day? Have you ever seen a dog welcome their owner when they see them? Some bark but mostly they swish their tail vigorously. They are saying, “I am thrilled to see you.” Everyone knows what a wagging tail means. Unfortunately, humans are not so obvious. More than once I have heard a child say, “Ms. So and So does not like me. She never even notices I am here.” Usually, the teacher is busy with some desk-task that had to be done and it had nothing to do with the child. Still, that is the outtake the child perceives. So, we have to become obvious. We have to let them know they are welcome.

One year a teacher referred most of her class for behavior assessments because the childrens’ behaviors were so disrespectful and disruptive. We asked her to spend two weeks greeting each child as they entered the room and to smile while doing it. Then we would look at the list. Amazingly (to her) the number went from a majority of students to one or two. Her lack of connecting with the children created an adversarial learning environment. By greeting them and connecting with them that changed.

The Meet and Greet is not just for school. Home needs it too. Many times parents are doing something and yell, “Is that you? Hi.” That is not the same as Meet and Greet. The parent needs to stop what they are doing for the moment, face the child, and greet them any way that works. Don’t say, “Give mom/dad a kiss or hug.” That is the child greeting you. Say, “Let me hug, high-five or whatever you. I am so glad to see you again.” The whole process takes 3-5 seconds but makes a world of difference.

It works with a spouse or partner, too. No matter what was happening when my husband came home, I would greet him in the same spot for a hug and a kiss. Some days we were not really talking to each other because we were fussing about an issue but we never stopped our greetings. The greeting confirmed the relationship even though there were issues to be resolved.

As I said, humans have to be obvious. They also have to be consistent. Meet, greet, and repeat daily and you’ll reap the benefits of a well-grounded relationship that can withstand the pressures of learning difficulties, anger, and frustrations that seep into most of our lives-and don’t forget to smile.

Knowing Me Knowing You

This book is a treat for all readers. In groundbreaking style, book introduces type differences through original stories.

Characters model their best way to solve problems, work with friends, cope with life issues, and form relationships. Each story is complete so children can choose which story they want to read.