Sunday, January 09, 2005

What's Going On???

I saw the most wonderful thing in a restaurant last night that I have not seen since I moved here...the disciplining of children! We were eating a lovely Mexican meal when a little boy, about 2 and a half or so, started in to one of those whiny-moany deals that increase in volume until everyone in the restaurant is ready to leave. Now, I completely understand that the behavior of young children is generally out of parents' control, especially babies. In this situation, I'm referring to kids in the 3-10 age range who can be taught to know better.
Back to the scene. Usually what I see in public is a parent speaking to the child. Or trying to reason with them. Goes something like this: "No, honey!" [parent casts exasperated look at those around them, people glare back.] "Would you like a piece of gum? Would you like to sit with Mommy?" Screaming obviously continues, because parent is giving child what they want, attention, and they are ready for some more of it.
But what I witnessed last night? Beautiful. Return to young boy (really young even!) attempting whiny/moany behavior. Whine lasted approximately 6 seconds when Dad picked him up and carried him to the bathroom. My eyes met Mike's and we both smiled in surprise! Dad returned in less than a minute with a quiet, slightly resentful child in tow. Dinner continued until about 15 minutes later, same child began noise again. Dad put down fork, carried child to bathroom, and returned once more with a peaceful child who lasted through the meal. I wanted to go over and shake their hands! Mike said this would be perceived as odd, inappropriate behavior and guided me out the door instead.
I don't know what went on in that bathroom, but I want to see some more of it! What has happened to that? It's the same thing at school - parents come in for a conference and their children are just HORRIBLE! I have disciplined so many kids in front of their parents and it's really embarrassing for me to have to do that. But, unlike their parents, I'm not going to let them think they can get away with something or they'll try it again in school.
So what's going on in this world? When I was little no one wanted to even dare get in trouble at school because everyone knew it was guaranteed to be even worse at home. Now, kids get in trouble at school, I am not allowed to spank them, yell at them, put their name on the board, give them silent lunch, or take away their recess because all of these things might hurt their self-esteem. I can, however, call their parents, who will the defend their child's behavior and make excuses for them (unmedicated ADD, dad's out of town, big soccer game that night, etc.) Then if I persist, they call the principal to alert her that I'm picking on their child. I am permitted, however, to positively praise them for something else that they did which was good and help them talk through their feelings about the thing they did that was bad. Which goes back to reasoning with a child.
We were also in Target last night (it really was a rockin' good Saturday night with Mike and I, we should've sent an Evite) and saw another mother who was trying to reason with her child about why he couldn't have a toy from the shelf. In her hands already was a PlayStation game and three pairs of child-sized long droopy basketball shorts. The (7 or 8 year old) child was adorned with more bling than Snoop Dogg. He had a silver sparkly medallion around his neck which hung from a psuedo-silver/diamond rope chain to his waist, an iced out watch with a face twice the size of his tiny wrist, and a huge diamond stud earring sparkling from his left ear. The kid was as tall as my waist and completely blinged out from head to toe. The mother finally lost her cool on the reasoning and yells [in line, in public], "It's not all about you! When are you going to learn that!?" clearly is all about him. You've already spoiled the child rotten by fulfilling all of his, um, wardrobe wishes, you're carrying even more in your hand, plus a game for this kid who is being a brat. Am I the only one who sees this? These are the same kids I work with every day. My partner teacher and I "censused" my homeroom this week and discovered that 17 of my 21 kids genuinely believe that the world revolves around them! (Her class has a much better ratio, I just had back luck this year.)
What is going to happen when these kids reach the work force? I don't see how they can possibly make it to college! What with no grades, no discipline, no parenting? These are people who could be taking care of us when we're old! So what do you think it is? Just "kids these days"? Society? TV? Parenting? Just please don't say it's the teachers, we're doing all we can.


none said...

Yes, that´s what I do with my son. I didn´t know if it was ok or not, I just know it works.

In places where we can´t have a time-out (lets say the car), I also seem to go deaf the louder a child gets.

katielady said...

Honey, it is NEVER the teachers' fault. I told my mom about your no grades, no discipline thing at school and she was speechless. Could not believe it!

The problem seems to be that adults have increasingly let children just run all over them to the point that children now seem to think they have a say in the matter. Like they are adults. Hello!!?! They are CHILDREN! You don't ASK them what they want, you TELL them what they are getting! Yes, in our culture of 'yes,' where parents feel the need to give their kids everything whether they can afford it or not, parents are just setting themselves up for future problems. It is a very sad thing that we are surprised when we see a parent disciplining the screaming child in public. However, it's reality.

I like the clock, by the way!

Anonymous said...

WOW!! Awesome awesome post! Thanks so much for sharing this. I know that I sometimes am lacking in the discipline area - other times I rock and my kids do so much better. It's all about consistancy in your parenting and thanks to your post I'm even more motivated to be consistant with them. THanks so much - I've blogrolled ya too so I can come back. Cheers!

girlfiend said...

Well said. Where I live the problem seems to be that teenagers have children who then have children when they're teenagers. The 2nd generation, too young to be parents, dumps their kids with the grandparents who were crappy parents to begin with. The kids have no sense of what's appropriate and get knocked up as teenagers themselves. I'm speaking in circles, but I swear it makes sense.

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Anonymous said...

I don't know what went on in that bathroom, but I want to see some more of it! What has happened to that?I suspect what's happened to that is the avoidance of the Parent Police and their casting disapproving looks (at the very least) at reasonable discipline. With so many nosey busybodies with nothing better to do with their lives, you can hardly raise your voice at your child in public without fearing someone will call "the authorities" on you.

That being said, though, I've found an effective measure in desperate circumstances is to tell my daughter that if she doesn't settle down, someone might "call the police" because they'll think I'm a bad mommy, and then the child protective service people or whoever will take her away. Extreme? Maybe, but it works like a CHARM without having to spank or yell. Sometimes you HAVE to do what it takes to defuse a meltdown!