I’ve worked in an elementary school for the past 6 years. It’s probably the single most entertaining job I’ve ever had. Kids crack me up, and I am that person who is likely to giggle for a little too long when someone’s little darling innocently makes some innuendo filled statement that only an adult would notice. Kids can be adorable, and wise beyond their years…or they can be little dicks. I’ve had multiple conversations with multiple adults about how disrespectful children can be these days. You used to be able to count on one hand how many kids were poorly behaved and disrespectful. Unfortunately, the tides have turned and it’s more likely that you can count well behaved, respectful kids on one hand. With this in mind, I give you my advice on how to prevent your kid from being on the ugly side of that statistic.
1. Teach them that it’s not amusing to be a little punk who ignores the directions of adults. Believe me, we know they find it amusing because they tend to have a smirk on their face that makes even the most even keeled of adults want to slap it off their face and into next week. It’s not cute, it’s not because they’re young, it’s because they haven’t learned to respect adults.
2. Teach them that the adults at school are NOT blind. When we see them do something right in front of us, it means WE SAW IT! No matter how many times they say they didn’t do it, WE SAW THEM DO IT! This might be a good time to start teaching them accountability. When they punch a co-worker in the ribs in front of their boss someday, they won’t get away with saying they didn’t do it.
3. Teach your child some independence. Show them how to open a friggin straw, or wipe their mouths. For the love of all that is great and holy, teach them how to wipe or blow their nose! It’s unbelievable how many kids need help with EVERYTHING. It’s not because they aren’t capable, it’s because they never have to do anything for themselves. I’ve seen parents come to school for parties or lunch, and they literally spoon feed their child! PLEASE, let them do things for themselves. They will be okay.
4. Teach them not to be wimps. Seriously. Life is a lot easier when you can suck it up and move on. There are so many kids who whine over trivial injuries, invisible cuts, and act like they are crippled for life when they have microscopic booboos. Then you have the kids who suffer daily with hourly stomach aches. A lot of this is for attention, so for everyone’s sake…especially your child’s…give them the attention they need.
5. Teach them to be a good friend. Nobody likes a tattletale, and there are kids who make it their job to rat out every other kid in sight, for even the slightest of transgressions. Unless a classmate is going to get hurt, it’s usually okay to let things slide. Teach your kids that manipulating others, talking behind people’s backs, ranking friends, and being visually disgusted when someone sits next to them, is not going to win them friends. Teach them to be kind. It’s not okay to be mean and hurt people’s feelings.
6. Teach your kid that not every damn thing that is said and done “hurts their feelings.” A lot of kids like to use that phrase to get other kids in trouble. They tell the adults at school that so-and-so hurt their feelings, usually with an annoying smirk on their face. Refer back to rule #4. Tell them to get over it.
Clearly, this is not an exhaustive list. It’s just a starter guide, if you will. It boils down to teaching kids that school is a place for learning, and that teachers and other adults are to be listened to, responded to, and respected. Stop babying your kids, stop assuming they are always innocent, teach them how to do for themselves, and to treat other kids the way they want to be treated. Ultimately, it will make your child a better member of society, a better friend, and a better person. It will also prevent you from being the parent of the kid that nobody likes. Don’t be the parent of THAT kid.