A couple of posts ago, I talked about the need to speak kind words to children and to help them to feel safe. Today, I saw the opposite situation going on. I was in Target hanging out in the toy section with the kids when I hear this hideous, loud, screeching coming from a few rows over. I had to kind of chuckle a bit and think, "Boy, I've been there a couple of times." It's really embarassing when you're in public with your kids and they have a melt down. You are trying super hard to not come across as abusive, but at the same time trying to let your child know that his behavior is unacceptable. It's a very tricky balance I openly admit.
About a minute later, I hear the same scream coming from the same location and then I hear a voice, much too old to belong to a 2-3 year old demand, "I want that right now mom!" Well, we were done with the isle of toys we were on and so we turned the corner to the next isle. That's when I saw the 4-6 year old boy standing there with a blotchy, red face and fists clinched at his side while his mom knelt beside him telling him, "You'll have to ask for that for a gift. It's $35 and we don't have the money for that."
I've been there too, where your child wants a toy, but you don't think it's worth the money or you simply don't have the money. I don't see anything wrong with explaining to my child that everything we buy has a cost and we don't always have the money to buy everything we want. Besides that, I don't think it's healthy for children to get everything they want. We should all be told no from time to time.
This mother then told her child that he could instead pick out a ball instead of the item he wanted. Done that too! Negotiation is such a key part of parenting. Did you ever realize how many skills being a mom would utilize? Chef, driver, laundress, teacher, friend, manicurist, hair stylist, the list goes on and on.
The boy continues to let out an entirely out of control scream! It would be at that point that I would tell him that he gets absolutely nothing and we are leaving the store. What does his mom do? She continues to try and convince him to get the ball instead of the toy he wants. She even tells him she's leaving (who hasn't done that trick as well?). She does walk away and he just stands there. She walks several rows away and starts looking at other items. Do you know what he does? He screams and screams and screams. I don't know what his name is, but all I could think of was Veruca Salt from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
You know, I think all parents should be required to watch that movie because that's where I'm driving at. Poor behavior should never be rewarded. Now, don't think that I'm saying that I'm perfect in this area because I'm not. I compromise and cave in from time to time. But, do you know what that teaches a child? Every time mom or dad won't give me what I want, I'm going to throw a fit until they do. If my first fit doesn't work, I'll throw a bigger fit.
Seriously, it's the biggest turn off to me to see a child throwing a tantrum and to see a parent begging the child to stop and offering rewards for just being quiet. Is there no standard of expectation? Shouldn't the expectation be that the child can be good mannered and from time to time earn a reward? When did we as parents begin to believe that the standard was that our children are going to throw fits or disobey and that we are going to promise them anything they want just to do the basics we would expect them to do?
Honestly, what do you see in this kid's future? I'll tell you what I predict--an out of control kid that becomes a demanding teenager that gets into a lot of trouble because he was never expected to obey his parents. His mom can't figure out what went wrong, she always bought her child everything he ever wanted and showed him so much love even when he misbehaved. What went wrong?
Please remember, I am not saying that I don't fall short of this ideal too. However, my children know that I expect good behavior from them. They know that I am impressed when they are well behaved and disappointed when they are disobedient. I do believe in feeling sympathy for parents who are having bad days, but I absolutely don't believe we should reward fit throwing. Back in my day it would've been a swat on the butt and no apologies to anyone. Now, we seem to be begging our children to be our friends. How 'bout we just watch Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and remember that naughty children often (not always) come from poor parenting choices.