All the kid activities this summer have reinforced an ugly pet peeve of mine: misbehaving kids whose parents are nowhere to be found or who choose to do nothing about it. Whether we’ve been at the park, daily swim team practices, or standing in line at the movies, I’ve seen the situation countless times this summer. A kid misbehaves and his or her parent either isn’t there to see, or doesn’t want to deal with, the transgressions. What’s really sad is these kids aren’t learning how to get along in the world.
Just this morning we were at a park and there was a kid throwing sand at everyone within reach. He was about three, cute, definitely curious, but made kids three times his age run in fear of his sand wrath. I looked around, expecting his parent to tell him to stop. Who was watching this kid?
My blood pressure rises slightly at swim practice when all the kids huddle around three outdoor showers to rinse the chlorine off after morning practice. There is one girl who must push the automated nozzle, which runs for about 30 seconds, 20 times at least, despite many other children waiting. I used to look around, waiting for her parent to say, “That’s enough. Give someone else a turn,” but it never happened. I have said things to her a few times, but really wish I didn’t have to. Plus, she ignored me anyways.
Standing in line just last week to buy movie tickets a 5-year-old pushed an older boy, who was standing behind him, in the stomach. The older boy had no escape. His mom stood there as helplessly as I did during the sand escapade. Later when the little boy yelled at his mom, making a scene as they made their way into the theatre, she smiled and tried to soothe him, having a patience threshold that was much higher than most moms I know. Part of me thought, That’s nice she’s so patient. The other part thought, Why is she so darn patient? That kid is a brat!
Life is much more fun and a whole lot easier if we face it when our kids are out of line, correct them, and move on. They learn better social skills and over time we can take them anywhere and everywhere (well just about) and they know how to behave.
Not that my kids are perfect angels and never misbehave. But I supervise them and the minute I see them doing something that is not considerate of others I intervene. This helps everyone in the long run, including them.
Doing the discipline work and being consistent hasn’t always been easy. I remember having to follow through on a threat to leave a birthday party when my son was younger. As much as I wanted to stay and socialize, we left 10 minutes after arriving.
Having to do that a few times early on, and following through every time, has made life much more peaceful and fun. We were able to leave all 4 of our kids with another family who has 5 well-behaved kids over night this past weekend (why we had to is another post entirely). The parents said they couldn’t believe they had 9 kids. “It was a pleasure,” the mom said, “Really. Anytime.” And I know she wasn’t just saying that.
I’d much rather watch 9 well-mannered kids than 1 who is not.