If the frequency of my own sightings is any indication, those "My Child Is a Terrific Kid!" bumper stickers are fast becoming ubiquitous.
Curious, I did some investigating and discovered that Terrific Kids is a school-based character-building program sponsored by Kiwanis. Terrific is an acronym that stands for Thoughtful, Enthusiastic, Respectful, Responsible, Inclusive, Friendly, Inquisitive, and Capable.
According to the website at www.kiwaniskids.org, children work with their classroom teachers to establish goals to improve behavior, peer relationships, attendance or school work.
All well and good, but the teachers I spoke with told me that nearly every child who enters the program ends up being a TK. So it would seem that the TK awards are relatively meaningless, however well-intentioned.
To right this wrong, I've developed a 15-item inventory -- the Rosemond Truly Terrific Kid Scale -- that will tell parents whether their child is truly terrific or not, and if not, what needs some work.
Any given child begins with 15 points. One point is deducted for every item which is not almost always true. Any child who ends up with 14 or 15 points is a Truly Terrific Kid. A score of 11 to 13 means the child is kinda terrific; 9 or 10 less than terrific; and 8 or below is not terrific at all.
So, if you dare (each item begins with "The child ..."):
1. Eats whatever foods he is served, without complaint.
2. Does his homework without being told, does at least 90 percent without asking for help, and does his best in school.
3. Looks an adult inthe face when spoken to and responds appropriately.
4. Asks for something by saying "Please."
5. Receives something by saying "Thank you."
6. Declines something by saying "No, thank you."
7. Addresses adults as Mr., Miss or Mrs.
8. Obeys classroom and playground rules.
9. Neither creates nor participates in conflicts with or between peers.
10. Knows not to enter an elevator until everyone who so desires has exited.
11. Does not use a cell phone, for talking or texting, in social situations.
12. Goes to bed without complaint and goes quickly off to sleep.
13. Does not often create or participate in sibling conflict. (If an only child, this point is automatically earned).
14. Accepts responsibility when confronted with misdeeds.
15. Does not interrupt adult conversations.
It should be obvious that my TTK scale reflects as much on parents as it does on a child.
John Rosemond, a family psychologist, can be reached via his Web site: www.rosemond.com