When did kids turn into such monsters?

Who else is volunteering at school these days?

With more time on my hands, I’ve put my name down for all sorts of things around school this year – reading groups being one of them. It’s proving to be an… um…. interesting experience.

Each Monday by 10am, I stumble out of the kindy room, slightly shell-shocked and desperately needing a cup of tea and a lay down.

I know naughty kids have always existed, but it does seem as though there are so MANY of them these days. Admittedly, the boisterous behaviour seems to have settled down by year 2 (I do reading with them another day), but the kindy kids are BLOWING MY MIND. Today, a boy was hitting me. I asked him to settle down, did all the ‘good’ parenting strategies, then ended up just wanting to smack him. I pointed out that he should be showing his best behaviour when there’s a guest in the classroom. “You’re not a guest, you’re just a mum”.

When and HOW did five year olds get so rude and disobedient?

I’d like to think it’s good parenting that has seen my kids grow up as lovely little people. But I’m not that smug and suspect that good luck has had quite a bit to do with it. Although I do maintain that good nutrition plays a major role. I’d love to know what these revolting little kids have eaten for breakfast – they just seem so out of control.

Afterwards, a mum of 3 and I debriefed. Both of us remember being incredibly awed and respectful of parents (our own and others). We decided that if we could pinpoint the moment, or the social change or value shift that altered this, we’d make a fortune. So what do you think it is? What has created this new normal of fearless kids who lack respect and are almost uncontrollable?

And PS, teachers, I love you ALL. You are all saints, and I thank you for your commitment to shaping the next generation. It’s astonishingly hard work.

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21 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Jan said,

    I think it started in the 60s with the Hippy generation. Everyone wanting to give their kids more than they had. We now have a generation of people who have entitlement issues. Add that to the political correctness that disciplining your children is child abuse and you can see why kids are so disrespectful

  2. 2

    Imogen said,

    I agree with Jan, and I think also it can be a result of parents working full time – at Daycare centres from a young age they can pick up bad habits, etc. It’s a sad state of our modern generation. Chivalry needs to be taught. People also don’t seem to realise that children are not rational like adults as wlel.

  3. 3

    im a 80’s child and i was brought up by a hippie single mum and even though she was very alternative she was also very strict.the result has been that my son has grown up with lots of love but strict boundries and is a respectfull kid.i thnk alot of the bad behaviour in his peers comes down to poor nutrition and the lack of parental guidence…its hard when women are pushed to go back to work so quickly and dont get the time to bring their own children up lovingly and to ‘lay down the law’ so to speak…and the dads are so stressed and exhausted from work, sometimes holding down 2 jobs just to make ends meat so the kids lack a attentive,strict daddy to look up too.i chose to work nights and weekends so i could be the mum that cooks the good meals,helps with the homework and keeps the household running while my husband works aways for weeks at a time.

    • 4

      wendyblume said,

      Sounds like you’re doing a great job Moira! I’m choosing to be with my kids for these few years too. I know they won’t need me so much in the future and I can go back to more lucrative work later on. I’m happy to live with less for a while. But I’m also REALLY aware of how privileged a position I’m in – that I’ve got some choice. I think so much would be solved by genuinely flexible workplaces. So much of the time it’s lipservice, and there’s very few dads who manage to get any flexibility in their roles. It always seems to come back to the mum making sacrifices…

      • 5

        thanks wendy 🙂 its a tough trot living with less but well worth it when i get such great feedback on how well my boy behaves in public…dont get me wrong he can be a terror sometimes.i feel so badly for the single mums and dads with 3 or more kids that are forced back into work when their youngest hits 5-6yrs…..who is there after school,who packs the lunches,who makes sure they are not drinking softdrink and hittn Maccas on the way home….and even worse attacking old ladies,snatchn purses and defacing public property?my 5ft tall mother had a run in with a 12yr old recently at the local shops that tried to elbow her in the face and steal her purse….where was his parents?probly working to keep the roof over their heads and food on the table…

  4. 6

    TroolyScrumptious said,

    I think it’s many things. I know for myself I found there is an overload of information out there about how to discipline. It gets confusing. I don’t really have anyone to role model from. Whereas my mum had her mum and her aunties to guide her. A lot more people live away from their families nowadays so you don’t have that village mentality as much.

    Also I think there is just a shift in attitudes generally. It’s not just kids.

    And don’t get me started on food additives.

  5. 7

    Cath said,

    I’m going down the childcare route for blame. One teacher per eight children – who has the time to do the proper manners/discipline/respect teaching when they’re all going nuts at once? It is hard enough with two kids at a time to have the energy, patience, time, enthusiasm to insist on manners for EACH AND EVERY request they make. And that is the only way manners are learnt. By insisting on them every single time. Extrapolate that for every other learning that is required….. Gross generalisation to be sure, but ask any early primary teacher – they can spot the kids that come from full time day care a mile away.

    Just my two cents worth.


      • 9

        Jane said,

        Mmmmmm, I’m a preschool teacher with some children at my preschool there full time. We are so strict with manners and respect, but unfortunately at many preschools and day care centers you aren’t allowed to say no to children anymore. Every single interaction has to be positive and child focused, you are actually assessed on this!
        I think it’s a bit of a cop out to blame day care, just like we can’t expect schools to raise our kids. The amount of times I hear parents praising their children for listening, good manners etc is over the top. This behaviour should be expected. And some parents never want their children to experience loosing a game or failing at an experience. We are raising a generation of children who are spoken to like adults, praised for every positive action and have a huge sense of entitlement – sorry love, but you’re not pinning all of that on us poor preschool teachers! Lol ( and yes, I have kids of my own who get pulled up about respecting adults and using their manners)

  6. 10

    Belle said,

    I think its many things including:
    *Lack of boundaries (some kids are allowed to choose what they will eat, when they will eat it, what they will watch on TV, what time they will go to bed etc etc. – I know of a family who let their 5yr old & 8yr old girls watch Desperate Housewives and all sorts of other “M” rated shows – & these children are out of control… co-incidence? I think not?)
    *Lack of REAL discipline
    *Lack of REAL communication between parents & children
    And this is going to sound harsh… but… I have noticed a growing number of parents (usually younger-ish) that think that the sun shines out of their childrens butts.
    I am growing very tired of hearing how these parents literally worship their children. Not one person on this planet (Including children) are perfect & if you bring up a child letting them believe that they are just so perfect in every single way, surely you are going to have problems?

  7. 12

    wendyblume said,

    Jane, your insights are really interesting. I never realised that it’s policy to never say no! I agree with the whole ‘overly positive’ aspect too. Sometimes kids are wrong, and need to be told so. I’m having that battle with my daughter now, she just can’t accept that she is wrong in any argument – although not sure if that is conditioning or just her personality!

  8. 13

    wendyblume said,

    and I LOVE that facebook page. will definitely share.

  9. 14

    KMC said,

    Hi, one thing is for sure: it’s not the kids fault.. also I think it is complex topic.
    Life is fast, we want it all, we set the bar high and when we are almost there, we don’t pat us on our shoulders, because we have already moved the bar even higher even faster each time. We forget what the real priorities are because there is too much to do to achieve our high goals.
    When you work all week the last thing is you want to do is spend the few hours disciplining your child. It is easier just to find excuses for your childs behaviour, because it often is just a reflection on ourselves – and that is hard to face in a world striving for perfection.
    We are too busy to take the time and step back and think what is going on and then take the appropriate steps to fix this behaviour.

    I am not sure about other childcares, but I don’t blame it on mine, because mine is really really good and they are stricter there than most homes of those kids. Bad behaviour is absolutely not tolerated and they have great steps to re-inforce those rules.

    I have to admit – I worship my little boy – he is the light of my life. I don’t have any family in Australia, so I have no support but myself and I can’t afford to have a little 3.5 year old run riot on me and not being invited for playdates or burden friendships that took so long to build in Australia. So I make sure he behaves, I am not his friend or cheering squad – I am his mum – the person that loves him more than anyone and that includes sometimes being tough so he can continue being my sunshine.

  10. 15

    It could be numerous things from the availability of the media (we now have numerous TV channels devoted to kids) or being time-poor or just having access to anything and everything (packaged food to whatever toy you could imagine in store!).

    The new generation seems so ‘i’ driven. I know this doesn’t relate to your story but I had to chuckle today. I work at a Uni and the Uni bar had been refurbished. Gone are the social pool tables and the big leather lounges that seat up to 10 people where you had a long coffee table to rest your food and drink on. They have replaced them with individual sloth like bean bag style chairs. On the wall is a flickering billboard that flickers in-time to some rejigged 80’s music being played on a massive TV screen.

    I walked in and there were about 30 to 50 students all nestled in their cocoons not speaking to each other – just surfing on their ipads or typing on their laptops:) Probably all communing with each other on their blogs in cyberspace (like I am doing now!! *snort*).

    It’s a funny world. If you find the answer to the rude-child-syndrome…please share it with us:)

    • 16

      wendyblume said,

      Love your bar story. It’s funny but also quite worrying! All these maladjusted peeps, so connected but so alone! How will that all pan out?

    • 17

      Actually I don’t think it is too far removed from the post. They don’t know how to communicate any more, remember that some of these izombies are also parents. They aren’t any more able to communicate with their children than their peers and so their children don’t know how to either.

      Another aspect is that in internetworld it is so easy to not be held accountable for your behaviour which translated over into the real world, kids think they can act the same in both places and aren’t pulled up for it by their parents because they too have their nose buried in their igadget and don’t even notice.

      So where do I put the blame? Television started it and it has evolved into computers being an added complication and lack of communication and community are starting to if not already failing at being the support system that parents need to be able to learn how to be a good parent. Instead of being able to turn to their own parents, aunts, uncles, siblings and grandparents they are having to find this support online which just makes the whole problem worse.

      Now I better stop rambling and go and be a parent. At least the TV isn’t on 😛

  11. 18

    Barbara Good said,

    I’m a high school teacher and when I say that to people I often get the response of ‘I don’t know how you do that’ but I love working with kids and especially with teenagers I have to say almost all kids are good, sweet and want to please, they just don’t always know how to express that appropriately or how to get the attention they need. The kids that outwardly seem naughty or rude often have reasons to be that way, none of which is their doing. There are far too many kids with such sad stories. Having said that a breakfast not full of sugar would be a good start for many.

    I think child care workers are doing a great job at teaching respect and manners to kids, my own go and I have always been pleased to see them insisting on these kinds of behaviours.

    Lastly, from my own personal experience while most of the kids you’re referring to have something in their background that explains their behaviour sometime the most lovely, caring and devoted parents have a child that is naughty or mischievous and then I think ‘Oh God if it happened to them it could happen to anyone’ and that’s what scares me.

    • 19

      wendyblume said,

      What do you teach? I don’t care what you say, you still deserve a medal – I went on a school excursion yesterday and was SO exhausted last night. I’m totally with you that all kids are basically good and that it’s not their fault. And agree too, that ‘it could happen to anyone’. Which I why I’m never smug about my children’s successes – they are so totally their own little people, I’m just a factor, never the sole cause! Besides, the second you take credit for something, it all turns and they become foul. 😉

      • 20

        Barbara Good said,

        Thanks for those kind words Wendy, but I must say I could never work with the littlies, give me teenagers any day! I too am never smug about whatever small successes I have as a parent, and I do have one of ‘those’ children who just can’t seem to behave appropriately in a cafe or restaurant. Oh I was so naive pre-children, thinking that when I had children they would know how to sit at a table and use a knife and fork as if they were little robots without minds of their own. And while I’m at it, I think you also deserve a medal for staying home with your kids and providing them with so many wonderful activities, not to mention delectable dinners. I couldn’t do the SAHM thing long term, I go absolutely nuts myself and am much better when I have a balance of home and work (hence I’m about to go back part time again).

      • 21

        wendyblume said,

        I’ve only been a SAHM since my eldest went to school – I loved working when they were little, but it all got too much for the family once we got to two pickups/homework/activities blah blah blah. I love being at home with them now (that they’re at school all day). and I”m lucky to be able to do VS and also pick up freelance design work at home. Grass is always greener i think, no matter which path you choose.
        And if it makes you feel better, my daughter is 7 and still can’t use cutlery. My husband (bless him) thinks she has a special disorder. I just think she’s a bit uncoordinated!

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