Modern children face an unfortunate fact. For all the love and attention we lavish on them, hardly a soul takes them seriously. Further, despite abundant indulgence and protection provided to middle-class children, in particular, few are given anything significant to do, because few adults believe there is very much they can do. Accordingly, their serious thoughts on matters of daily consequence are rarely invited. I suspect that the suggestion that this is a problem may strike some as absurd. Yet the loud repercussions of this state of affairs are considerable, and we should address how this imbalance now colors the temperament of childhood. Usually, our society focuses intensely on the effect, while paying less attention to the cause of children’s behavior. So there is ample discussion of the most pressing problems: poor attitude, impulsive self-gratification, aggression, and elements of depression. It is not my intention to suggest that such syndromes don’t exist, because they do, hindering the harmony to which most families and classrooms aspire.
The above is an excerpt from my recently published essay, On Monstrous Children.
I wanted to share this in relation to an interesting story from Canada about a restaurant offering patrons a discount for well-behaved children! Some might object to this policy on the grounds that it unfairly penalizes parents of children with behavioral disabilities. True. But in my view, the more significant issue is to understand why children misbehave in the first place – much of the reason has to do with being given little or no respect. We could have a massive and collective effect on child behavior if we changed the way we talk to kids. Our speech is the most important indicator of respect, and too often we talk to kids like they are second class citizens.