What Does it Mean to be a Good Citizen?

By Kimber Underdown, MAT

people volunteering outside

My son is a second-grader in a public school. When he came home from school the other day, I went through his backpack and saw a booklet he created on being a good citizen. I thought it was quite timely, as we think about being good citizens, in and out of classrooms, as both teachers and students.

What does it mean to be a good citizen?

Being Nice

According to my second grader, being a good citizen means being nice to people (even when you don’t feel like it).

I think this may be hard for many of us to do. How easy is it to only be nice when we really like someone? This is great advice for all of us. Being “nice” whenever we can really does pay off in the end.

As the old adage goes, “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar” (or something like that – why we want to catch these flies is really another story altogether).

Having Manners

My second grader also says being a good citizen is by having manners. I think having manners is great! I had no idea my son thought this was great, too, but it really is!

As society gets more casual and less formal, sometimes manners go by the wayside, but they shouldn’t. Manners can be as simple as saying “thank you” and “please.”

Having manners isn’t hard and needn’t be complicated. But it should not be discounted either. It says a great deal about a person’s character if they have good manners. So, hold the door open for someone today.

Helping Those in Need

My second grader also says good citizens help those in need.

This is huge.

It is easy to justify why we don’t want to help those in need. We make excuses – they are lazy; they have not tried hard enough; they just want a handout. The truth is we never really know why a person is in the situation they are in.

We also never know when we might be in a situation in which we need help. I have learned this the hard way; life does not always follow our best-laid plans and sometimes we find ourselves in unexpected and even unexplained circumstances.

Being kind and helping those who need it makes sense. As “they” say, “what goes around, comes around.”

As we contemplate citizenship and being a good citizen of this great country, be sure to keep this wise second grader’s thoughts in mind. Go forth and be nice, have manners and help others. (Now, tell me my second grader isn’t brilliant… Okay, don’t tell me that; I know he is!)

Hear more about celebrating citizenship by checking out our previous blog posts.

More about Kimber:

Kimber Underdown is currently online full-time faculty in the College of Education at Grand Canyon University and an adjunct for traditional courses on GCU’s main campus. She also works on curriculum revisions, is a member of many committees and is the content lead for special education. Kimber has a BA in special education and a MAT in teaching is finished with all but the dissertation in her EdD in organizational leadership and is attaining an MS in professional counseling. Prior to GCU, Kimber worked in the field of special education for 21 years and worked as adjunct faculty at GCU. When she is not teaching, Kimber enjoys spending time with her four children and granddaughter, watching movies, reading and acting in community theater productions.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.