When my friend picked me up to take me to the hospital for my knee-replacement surgery almost four years ago now, she tossed me an orange shirt and told me to put it on. She proclaimed that we were going on vacation.

Not only do I not look good in orange, but the shirt was splashed with large white and smaller blue flowers. It was so not me! Too loud, too vivid, too orange! Plus, I knew we weren’t going on vacation … but, I played along because it was all in fun.

While driving to the hospital, my friend pointed out sites along the way as if I had never seen them before. She got me laughing, and that was good. On the way home from the hospital, we stopped to purchase our favorite cookie-and-cream shakes because we were on vacation. That was better!

Every once in a while, my friend challenges me to wear the shirt. She wants me to relax. The shirt causes me to do the exact opposite because it’s not me. We laugh about it.

I’m at my best when I can be myself. I can fake it for awhile, but the stress eventually takes a toll. Integrity is where I want to be. Lying to myself and others about myself is uncomfortable. It’s wrong.

What about children? Can we help them know themselves well enough to be themselves? To like themselves? How? When children don’t know who they are or don’t like who they are, they don’t know how to behave. They may be wishy-washy, inconsistent, and too easily influenced by others. They may not stand up for themselves. This isn’t something to laugh about.

Do something this week to help children know themselves and be themselves. You’ll be glad you did.