Saturday, December 4, 2010

Time to raise our expectations

My children are regularly rude to me and each other, but I'm always taken aback when children are repeatedly disrespectful of other adults.

I know I shouldn't be shocked (I was a high school teacher) but I have been astounded since I started back at work by the behaviour of the some of the kids I've met.  The high levels of blatant disrespect and rudeness.  Children who are ungrateful ("I hate this prize, I don't want it, it is stupid").  Children who ignore repeated instructions. Children who are just horribly mean to other children.  Children who run to the other end of the library and hide when their parents say it is time to go home.  Children who lie - over and over.  The list goes on - and all the school teachers go 'and yes, Jenny, so what's new?!

Now that I have my own children, I'm more confident than ever that kids CAN do better than this.  My children are so, so far from perfect (daily, first-hand experience) but I keep trying.  I keep trying because I know that they need to learn how to behave appropriately, because I know they can do it and if I don't believe they are actually capable of it, then I should give up.  And I've seen that being consistent and following through with my expectations of their behaviour is so worth it (and frankly, I'm no queen of the discipline - have not followed any special method here).

I'm reluctant to pass judgement on other parents because I do find it incredibly tedious when others do it to me about my imperfect children.  But sometimes I do think 'can't we just try a little harder as parents here people?  Can't we hope for a little more from our kids?  Isn't giving our kids some clear expectations the right thing to do by our kids?  Is it OK to just give up because it is all too hard?'

I have five children.  I'm pretty (totally) over disciplining three year old behaviour.  Been there, done that (yawn).  But hey, I'm a lazy parent - I don't want to be dealing with 2yo type behaviour when they are 10 simply because I couldn't be bothered having a few (ok - let's be realistic - about a million!) fights with them along the way.  In my mind it is preventative - work hard now - make the expectations clear early - and make life a lot easier for yourself (and a heap better for them) as they get older.

And if you have worked hard but are still finding it hard (like I often do) imagine how much more hellish it would be now if you hadn't put in the hard yards before!

4 comments:

Simone R. said...

Yeah.

Karen said...

So true. Thanks for the reminder. In volunteering at my kids' school, I see so many little people who have clearly had very few boundaries ever set for them in their lives. It makes me sad to think there are so many parents out there with such low expectations. And it's worrying for the future as this is passed on to future generations....

Richard said...

Good on you Jenny :)

SAndra said...

I'm still reminding them to say please and thank you - will I still be doing it when they are 20??

While I am regularly reminded I am the most repressive mother around I think they are all the better for the boundaries we have enforced, sometimes with great pain and frustration (our children are incredibly persistent- but that's a virtue, isn't it?? shame they train on their parents)