Monday, June 6, 2011

Why don’t parents watch their children?

It is really frustrating to have a child, any child, walk into your home, and go around touching things. Don’t get me wrong. I love children. It’s just that it really gets my goat when I see parents neglect to watch their children’s behavior.

I can quote a number of examples of careless disregard. Shoes on the sofa. Sitting at the dining table along with adults and dipping dirty little fingers into clean food. Pulling things off side tables, bookshelves, etc. Running sticky fingers over clean walls. Opening drawers. Picking refrigerator magnets off. Dropping glasses. Writing on furniture, walls, etc. Spitting.

I don’t blame children because they are just being who they are. They need to be chided, corrected, not molly coddled and allowed to do what they want. How will they ever learn if parents lamely say, “You should not scold children. It will hurt their feelings” Grr.

I come from an age and environment where children had their own space to do what they needed to. As children, we were not allowed into the adults’ entertainment room. If there wasn’t a play area around, we had to make do with whatever other room there was and entertain ourselves with books and other games and children. We were not allowed to make scenes if we were bored. If in the presence of adults, we had to sit up straight, shake hands or greet adults properly, mind our manners, and a host of other things. We learned to respect others and learned that we would not get our way by throwing tantrums. We didn’t have the luxury of saying, “I’m not hungry.” We ate when it was time to eat. We never dined with the adults.

I watch parents these days fall prey to children’s tantrums. They just give up and give in. Therefore, kids are growing up in the dangerous world of ruling the roost. They do not listen to adults, do not greet visitors; instead, they slam doors and whine.

Although I do not strictly favour corporal punishment, sometimes, I feel it is required, especially when words fail. A little pat never hurt anyone. In fact, my niece recently displayed her famous terrible twos’ temper by spitting when I refused to give her a cold juice Tetra Pak from the fridge—the second one in her demands. I ignored her at first and then firmly told her no. That being said, she spat and looked at me defiantly. All of less than 2 feet in height. I gave her a light smack on her lips, like how you strike a carom coin on a carom board. Her eyes welled up with tears, the hurt evident, not from the smack, but from the fact that I smacked her. She spat again. I smacked her again, this time a little harder. She jutted her cute, tiny lips out, eyes brimming over and sulked. She did not spit again. She did sulk. I ignored her. In 5 minutes, her pouting was done and she was all smiles. Needless to say, this cute little monster never pulled another spitting attack/tantrum with me again.

In contrast, when her mother deals with her, gently chiding, sometimes yelling, sometimes trying to distract, the effect isn’t the same. My niece continues to spit. With me, she has learnt the fine art of not spitting.

I know it is easier said than done. I am not raising my own little brat, so my words may seem to be harsh. However, I have friends and family who are all raising their own troop of little imps. Some parents are firm and I notice the discipline in their children. Among the brats who have parents who molly coddle them and are never firm with them, I see the potential of them developing into whiny, ill tempered, badly behaved spoiled brats.

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