By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Mar 02, 2015 at 10:28 AM

Every Monday, my child gets a writing prompt at school, and we've taken to discussing them in the car on the way to and from school. It's like a mini editorial meeting. We talk about potential content for the prompts.

While they're great at getting kids to practice composing complete sentences and perfect their handwriting, at least in my kid's case, the prompts also prove a source of stress. The impromptu chats about the prompts helps release some of that pressure and allows the kids get some practice at brainstorming, which is a valuable skill in the creative working world.

I've also learned that there's a lot to learn from regular writing prompt brainstorming sessions with little ones.

This morning, we discussed the new prompt – "I can be a friend by..." – and I promised my little one that I'd work on the prompt today, too, based on the ideas we discussed in the car, though using a computer instead of a moveable alphabet, pencil and paper:

I can be a friend by being kind. While, at least at our school, children spend a lot of time learning and modeling kindness, it's something we, as adults, surely don't think about enough. We experience kindness every day, of course, in simple ways – when someone holds a door open for you, perhaps – and in profound ones, when we do something valuable for a neighbor in need, for example.

And we are blown away when we read stories of selfless do-gooders, in part because we know that for such stories to appear in the media, they must be at least somewhat rare.

Of course, one doesn't have to look carefully to find the opposite. Any news report is rife with spite, anger and evil-doing. Hop behind the wheel or go to the grocery store on a busy Saturday and it won't take long to find smaller, random acts of inconsideration. For all our preaching to kids about kindness, too many adults have defaulted to the opposite.

I can be a friend by being a good role model. Nothing encourages kindness and consideration like witnessing kindness and consideration, or being on the receiving end of kindness and consideration. Pay it forward.

I can be a friend by caring for others. This is really the foundation. Someone once told me that what they noticed about me while working at a now-defunct daily newspaper, was that I spoke to the building maintenance staff and the cafeteria staff with as much interest as I spoke to my colleagues, and I still think it's the greatest compliment I've ever received.

If everyone applied the golden rule to everyone they encounter each day – and I know I could do better at this – the world would most certainly be a better place.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.