There is a fine line between a child engaging in typical childlike behavior and being plain old obnoxious; and it’s not always easy to explain. There are just certain behaviors that kids portray you can do very little about, such as a baby crying when she’s tired or hungry. That’s just what babies and small children do. And then there are behaviors that are not appropriate and are very irritating and are not ‘typical’ such as a 5-year-old complaining about being sick putting her hands all over your newborn baby inside her car seat at the pediatrician’s office where you are for a regularly scheduled checkup. Kids will be kids, yes, but that doesn’t give them the right to be jerks.
My kids do things that all kids do. They get excited and they talk too loudly sometimes. We remind them to use their inside voices. They get excited to see someone and they run through a hallway or away from us in the yard. We remind them to walk. Our jobs, as parents, is to differentiate between typical child behavior and poor behavior and teach our kids to learn the difference and behave appropriately. Of course, there are always parents that ignore their children’s poor behavior or try to play off their inexcusable behavior with a, “Kids will be kids,” spoken with a smile and a shrug. Sure, kids will be kids. But that doesn’t mean they have to be inappropriate or rude, and it doesn’t mean that they should be allowed to continue with poor behavior.
If my child is bothering you, please let me know. I would like for my children to learn to behave in public, and I do my best to make sure that they know what is appropriate and what is not. But sometimes I miss things. For example, I might not realize that my 4-year-old is kicking the back of your seat on a flight because I am tending to my 7-year-old, because I was speaking to the flight attendant or because I was engrossed in a game of peek-a-boo with one of my 16-month-old twins. By all means, if you do not witness me ask my child to cease behavior that is clearly unacceptable and inappropriate, kindly inform me.
Now, there are a few minor rules I’d like to establish before we go any further. Number one; please do not turn around and tell me that my crying infant is bothering you when I am in the middle of making a bottle for him or her. Or when I am in the middle of gathering the items that I need to change a dirty diaper, or when we are just waiting to see the pediatrician and she’s cold and not comfortable all naked and wrapped in a small blanket because they make me strip the kids down to weigh them yet keep the waiting room an uncomfortable 12 degrees below 0. I’m handling the situation to the best of my ability. Additionally, babies cry. If you’re sitting in the pediatrician’s office offended by a crying baby, well, sorry.
Rule number two; do not turn around assume that I’m not doing my job as a parent and attempt to discipline my child on your own. Please speak to m and let me do my job as a mother. On that note, please do not hesitate to grab my kid, yell at my kid or do whatever is necessary to correct a situation that might not be safe. For example, if I turn around to take the item my baby dropped from the kind woman at the supermarket and my 4-year-old decides it’s time to break free of the stroller and run to the car across the parking lot – feel free to handle that situation in an attempt to save her life.
But in general, please just tell me when my kid is bothering you. I recognize that there are some people that will blow things out of proportion. I once heard an older gentleman aboard a flight my husband and I were taking to Hawaii ask the mother of a teenage girl to please make her kid stop talking because “the sound of her voice is like nails on a chalkboard,” and while it was true, it wasn’t appropriate. And I recognize that not all forms of annoyance or bothersome behavior will be everyday things.
As my kids grow up, they might do something that you are bothered by. Perhaps my now 4-year-old daughter will bully your child or speak to her in a way that makes her feel poorly about herself. If that happens, please, please tell me. I need to know these things so that I can handle them. I need to know if my child’s behavior is out of line. I’m her mother, and I need to know. If my child is engaging in behavior that you believe is inappropriate, please, tell me! If my child has the worst singing voice in the world and cannot carry at tune, don’t bother; I know this. I’ve been listening to her for 7 years. I’m just relieved that American Idol was cancelled and I never have to see her on the first episode trying out while America shakes its head and mutters, “Why didn’t her parents tell her to find a new hobby?” WE DID.
The moral of the story is this; if you have a problem with my child or my child’s behavior, I’d appreciate knowing these things. Please don’t hesitate to respectfully inform me of something you feel I should be aware of so that I may handle the situation. On that note, please do be respectful. It’s not easy for a parent to hear negative things about their child, and saying it in a rude and inappropriate tone will do nothing more than put this mama-bear in defensive mode and make me feel angry toward you. But a polite and respectful, “I’d really like to discuss with you something that’s bothering me,” will do wonders.
I thank you.
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