Don't treat misbehaving children with kid gloves

By Dinh Van Tien   April 10, 2022 | 06:25 pm PT
Many parents are quick to shift the blame or find excuses when their children do something wrong. They are doing neither the children nor society a favor.

A friend returned home to see dozens of her lipsticks destroyed by her nephew, who’d also covered her bed with red and brown stains.

His parents were not aghast or apologetic. They smiled at what he’d done. This was just natural, playful behavior, in their book.

"They’re just kids, they don’t know anything" is an excuse I’ve heard over and over again from parents after their child had done something bad.

We all know the "blame game" that is played when a child falls down or hurts himself or herself and we hit or scold the floor or wall for hurting the child. This game can be funny and harmless, but it can have damaging implications when this approach of blaming something or someone else for what one’s kids do is taken too far.

People who believe their kids can do no wrong go out of their way to explain misbehavior on some external factor even in the face of damning evidence.

I’m not saying that all families do this, but too many of them do.

I was watching TikTok the other day, and a girl said her nephew tore apart an album by her favorite band that she’d just bought. When she told the parents, the brushed it off: "There were just discs. Why are you overreacting? Kids don’t know anything."

It is not uncommon that the complainant is accused of being a selfish and heartless person for picking on a child.

If such excuses are trotted out each time a child misbehaves, how will he or she learn right from wrong? If children are not held to account for his or her behavior, the message they get is that they are unaccountable and have the freedom to do whatever they want, including stealing and destroying things and even hurting others.

Kids are naturally curious and active. Everyone understands that. But if we don’t educate our children to take responsibility for their actions, we are not doing them a favor; we are not being "understanding;" we are doing the opposite.

Children know a lot more than we think. They are very fast learners, as they should be. Some kids can use smartphones even before they learn how to read.

In this age of modern technology, it is even more important that parents treat their children right, not spoil them endlessly. If they are not taught to own up to their mistakes and correct their behavior, who knows how they will turn out when they’re exposed to the "darker sides" of the internet and social media.

Parents and adults should remember that the vital role they play in ensuring a good future for their children starts with making them understand they are responsible for their bad behavior. Failure to do so will reinforce problematic patterns that carry over to adulthood.

Then, it might be too late.

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