My kids are very well-behaved in public. In fact, they’re so well-behaved that most people don’t ever think they act up at all. When I call them “monsters” they cringe at me like I called them “bastards” or something. To see my children in public you would think they never act up at all. That is because that from a very small age my children have been raised to not act out in public. There are many reasons for this. It’s disrespectful to other people. It’s dangerous. It’s annoying.
The hubs and I have taught our children to be considerate of others. They don’t get to knock food off the shelves when we go to the grocery store. We’ve talked to them about how it’s impolite to crowd people in the check out line. They don’t get to hide under racks in clothing stores. We’ve explained to them that if they knock clothes on the floor in a clothing store they have to pick it up, because they’re making someone else’s job that much harder. They don’t grab at toys in toy stores. They don’t get to touch whatever they want. They don’t get to leave our sides, actually.
We had an incident with Zorrie after a recent trip out of state where she went to stay with some people who have extremely different views on parenting. It was only five days, but apparently that’s long enough. When she was home again we went to TJ Maxx to buy her daddy some shorts. She was acting completely out of character. She was pulling stuff off of hangers and hiding under racks and moving things. I was completely baffled, because she had never acted out in such a way at a store before. When I would tell her to stop she would whine, “But I’m just being a kid!” After her third exclamation of the same, I decided that we should have a talk.
“Baby, you are a kid, but you know better than to act like that in a store. What’s going on?”
She put her little head down and whispered up to me, “[those people she stayed with] said that I could be like this because I’m a kid and I should just get to act like a kid.”
I nodded and replied softly, “There’s a difference between acting like a kid and being rude. You have always known that and behaved quite well in stores before.”
She nodded back, “But [those people] said I should act like that. That’s what being a kid is.”
“Okay,” I said patiently, “Do you think that I don’t let you be a kid?”
Tears were gathering in the corners of her eyes, “You let me be a kid, but you don’t let me run around in stores and stuff!”
“Nope. I don’t. And do you know why?”
“Because it’s not nice to the pretty ladies that have to clean the store and it’s not nice to the other people shopping that have to walk around me when I’m spinning in all the clothes.”
“Exactly! Good girl.” I gave her a hug. “How do you think you should behave in stores?”
“I like to be nice,” she smiled, “I like to tell people their hair is pretty. I don’t want to be rude.”
I grabbed her little hand, “You are a very sweet girl.”
We had absolutely no more problems on that trip to TJ Maxx. We got her daddy a new pair of summer shorts and she was so proud of herself for helping me pick them out. And I was so proud of her for being able to calmly straighten out her behavior without further incident.
Obviously, no children act perfectly all of the time. And I don’t expect that from mine. When they’re tired or hungry I fully expect them to act out to a certain extent. However, I do not let them scream, grab things, or run around like chickens with their heads cut off in stores or restaurants. Any of those three things warrants a walk out to the parking lot and a discussion about behavior.
Camalam was cranky at Target the other day and he threw himself down in the middle of the aisle screaming about I don’t remember what. I said very clearly and with an even tone, “Cameron, if you don’t get up and stop that right now I will carry your butt outside so Daddy and Zorrie can finish shopping without us.” I did not bend over or try to comfort him. I repeated myself twice and then lifted him up off the floor, slung him on my hip and said, “Fine, we’ll go outside then.” He quickly stopped his tantrum and asked to get in the cart. The end. He is three and a half so I completely understand him testing his boundaries at this age. But I will not coddle him or give any attention to a tantrum.
They are polite. They don’t interrupt when other people are talking. (Their opinions are valued always and we give them our full attention when it’s their turn to speak, but they still don’t get to interrupt.) They don’t leave the table until everyone is finished with their meal. They don’t run off. Now, my kids get to be kids. They get to have fun, dance around the house, get their wiggles out, do crafts, etc. Sometimes they get ice cream for no reason, they can get dirty, they play with their dogs, they wrestle with their daddy on the living room floor. They are happy kids.
Like I said, though, there is a HUGE difference between being a kid and being a horrible human being that has no consideration for others.
This little rant was brought on by an article I read on Psychology Today Why French Kids Don’t Have ADHD.