The Washington Post

Post-election: Lessons from kindergarten

Remember that book “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten”?

The one published in 1988 that made Robert Fulghum a best-selling author and the more cynical among us roll their eyes at how the country embraced prose, such as “Don’t take things that aren’t yours. Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody. Wash your hands before you eat”?

Well, it’s on my mind today, because as we nurse our electoral hangovers, I think many of us might do well to consider some of the simple advice we received as kids.

Be a good sport.

No matter if today is one of despair or of celebration, we can accept the results graciously.


First, “Be Polite.”

That’s the top tip on the KidsHealth Web site about learning good sportsmanship.

Some others:

“Don’t show off.”

“Tell your opponents ‘good game’.”

“Don’t make excuses or blame a teammate.”

In days to come we will see these rules repeatedly violated by our friends, neighbors, co-workers and even the officials we elected.

If we resist the temptations and practice good sportsmanship, our kids may just notice. They may better understand what we mean come the next competition when we lecture them — after they throw a bat in defeat, or gloat after win. They might even recall their parent’s exemplary behavior.


It could be either the silver lining or the gravy to the 2012 presidential election.

Related Content:

A parental act that predicts if a child becomes a voter

The Alex P. Keaton myth


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