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5 Rules That Apply From Kindergarten to College

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I still remember my mom hugging me goodbye in my dorm in the fall of 1998 while saying, “Be a good girl.” I was 18 and had heard that instruction on a regular basis from kindergarten to college. Now I tell my sons, “Be good boys,” and I plan to keep saying it because no matter what situation they find themselves in, that’s just good mom advice.

You’d tell a 5-year-old not to eat the glue and a college kid not to lose the parking pass, but those rules are pretty exclusive to their ages. But there are some rules that work whether our kids are walking into a classroom with an alphabet rug, a middle school with lockers, or a dorm room with a minifridge. Here are 5 rules that apply from kindergarten to college.

1. Be yourself.

It doesn’t matter if you’re making friends on the playground or after a football game—there’s no point in being someone you’re not. It gets really tiring pretending to like stuff you don’t like and talking in a way you don’t talk. Be yourself and you’ll build solid, healthy friendships.

2. Share.

If you have two pencils, an extra Gatorade at soccer practice, or the notes from that tough professor’s class, sharing is not only a great way to make friends, but it’s extending a hand to someone whose situation you might not fully understand. Teaching our kids to share is teaching them one of the most important commandments—to love your neighbor as yourself! It applies from kindergarten to college and beyond.

3. Get some rest.

Who else has purchased one of those padded red and blue naptime mats? Naps are a top priority for our little ones, but the command to “rest” is just as important for big kids. Our brains don’t stop developing until our mid-20s, so whether your kids are going through puberty or pulling an all-nighter to finish a paper, getting good rest is essential.

4. Look both ways.

This is a great rule from kindergarten to college if you’re the kind of mom who tends to worry. It reminds our kids to observe and think before making a move—and what mom doesn’t want her kids to think cautiously when they’re walking to school, going to a party, or accepting an invitation for a date?

5. Call me if you need me.

My older son is really good at falling. Through the years I’ve received several calls from the nurse’s office: “Hello, Mrs. Watts. I have Liam here. He fell but he’s OK. He’d like to speak to you.” He just needed to tell me what happened and hear me say that I’d kiss his boo-boo when he got home. I remember calling my parents from a payphone when my car broke down and from my apartment in college when I was stressed about exams. Knowing I should always call—even if it was just to talk—was a rule I was happy to follow.

What rules do you have for your kids that apply from kindergarten to college?


What’s one rule we have that you think every family should have?

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