On Sunday, I went along to a soft play birthday party for my niece. Not my idea of fun at the best of times but with Zach’sbroken wrist, my enjoyment levels were at a minimum. I was closely supervising him whilst the others ran amok.
I spoke to some of the bigger boys, my son and nephew included, as they were racing through the little children’s area, reminding them to be careful and stay in the designated areas for people their size. There were some really tiny children there and they could easily have been knocked over or injured.
At one point a little boy snatched a cushion from Anya then climbed up the steps and barged Zach out of the way with it. Seeing no parent around, I spoke to him firmly but softly to say his behaviour was not kind. He promptly burst into tears and ran for his mum wherever the heck she might have been.
I didn’t mean to upset him but don’t regret speaking to him. Truthfully, I would expect another parent to step in and help my children make the right choices if they were behaving in a way they shouldn’t.
On school trips I have noticed that parents fail to monitor their children properly and I have stepped in to speak to them earning myself a dirty look from their ‘supervising’ parent.
The same is true for the school run. Children on bikes haring down pavements, heedless of pushchairs, small children, pregnant women and the elderly or disabled. I have told children and teenagers off for swearing and dropping litter.
Unfortunately, I hideously embarrass my own children when I do this but I want them to learn to speak up for what is right. I set clear boundaries for my children that I don’t think are unreasonable so if I spot others behaving in an anti social way then I will call them up on it.
I would be horrified if my child dropped litter deliberately and would want a member of the public to challenge them.
Of course, it isn’t always negative behaviour that I will address. If someone behaves beautifully I would also comment on that. Injuries and sadness, offering comfort and reassurance. At the soft play party, a girl fell off the steps and was screaming in pain and panic so I instantly went over and checked she was ok (it was a really scary tumble!) then guided her back to her mum. Again, I would expect others to help my children in the same way.
The saying goes ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men should do nothing.’ I wouldn’t say I’m ‘good’ but I try my best and I will speak out because I feel passionate about producing the next generation with love and respect for humanity and the planet. (Read here about what I think is important to instil in our children)
Children learn by example. They push boundaries and need to learn from mistakes but they do NEED to know when they are making those mistakes otherwise they will continue to make them.
Seeing some of the teenagers in the exams I invigilate, it is obvious that no one ever tells them no. They come into school with incorrect uniform, no equipment and a smug attitude. They are in for a shock in the real world…
My children aren’t perfect. My parenting certainly isn’t either. But I am trying and that it what counts. Are you?