Feb 1, 2012

When children bully, who is to blame?

It would be easy to say just the parents, but there are too many factors involved. Raising children today is different than when children were raised in the fifties and sixties. Children did not back chat parents, and if they did would soon be told to behave. On the other hand one cannot blame it all on the times and the environment; the parents do play a big part when their children continually misbehave and they do nothing about it. Children know how to push your buttons. A child knows from an early age that if he hollers and makes a fuss, that he gets what he wants as the parent is just too worn out from household duties and makes the same threats every day without doing anything. What you might think is cute when your four-year-old purposely shoves his plate off the table, is not cute to others who have to listen to his screaming – and it is not pretty at all watching a four-year-old bullying his siblings to get what he wants and control the family.

Setting standards for a child

Your child’s behavior in any circumstances is as good as you have allowed it to be. A child who is reprimanded with kind words and without shouting, has a better outcome in the real world than one who is obnoxious and a bully. Teaching your children how to behave at home, at school, and with others is important and you should start as soon as your children understand what you are saying.  If he is with you at the supermarket and kicks the cans from the shelves, you should tell him immediately that you will deal with him when you get home. Don’t make a scene in public, but let the child know that he has misbehaved. Your punishment for this might be a ten-minute time-out. If this turns out to be a joy rather than a punishment, give him a chore that he can handle or take his computer game away for half an hour. Pick the right time. You can’t punish a child at bedtime for something he did wrong in the morning. He won’t know what he’s done to upset you.

In the good old South African handbook of acceptable behavior are things such as:

*          greeting people when you first see them, and asking them how they are,
*          not interrupting adults when they are talking, but waiting for a break in the conversation,
*          washing your hands before sitting down for a meal,
*          not talking with food in your mouth,
*          not taking more than one biscuit or sweet, if offered,
*          not arguing back with your parents,
*          not asking for anything in other people’s home,
*          not swearing, not being obnoxious, and not being rude.

Something that my old-fashioned grandmother always used to tell us kids when we were pre-teens is that you can be how beautiful and how pretty, but if you are rude and don’t have good manners, no one will like you. Children who are rude to parents, teachers and other people in positions of authority act out in public and more often than not land into trouble when they are teens.

Read The Playground of the Prophets and other posts

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