I attended a church event recently as a guest. There were many children in attendance. When their parents did nothing to quiet them or keep them from misbehaving, it left me thinking: “Where have all the parents gone?”
When my children were small and attended an event with me, it was my job to make sure they were respectful, quiet, and did not disrupt anyone sitting around them. If I needed to keep them occupied, I would bring a “church bag” with quiet activities like coloring books for them to work on. I did not allow them to bring a book to read or any electronic gadgets that would distract them from hearing what was being said. And if they needed to speak to me, they understood that it was an “inside voice” they were to use.
This is not the case today. The “parents” that I saw sitting with their children were doing an excellent job of ignoring their child’s behavior and focusing on the program. They never shushed them or asked them to speak in a quiet voice. I felt like I was on a playground and not inside a church building.
Unfortunately, this is a common attitude today. Not only do parents not correct their children in public, but they don’t know how to react to their misbehavior in an appropriate way. A parent of a toddler told me recently that she has no idea how to handle her child’s misbehavior without a temper tantrum. She and her husband have allowed the child to have her way, which has basically created a little monster at home.
Parenting can be difficult, but it is not impossible. There are a few easy things parents can do to teach their children how to respect authority and how to behave at home and in public.
Never let your child be the boss of you.
Children need to learn that they are not in control. This is very easy to teach. You give them choices from a very early age. The choices need to be two things that you approve of. For example, you can tell them to finish their dinner and have dessert, or they can stop eating now and have dessert another day. The point is that they won’t get dessert if they don’t finish their dinner. Whatever choice they make is fine with you. If they choose not to finish dinner, then get angry because they don’t get dessert, simply remind them that they made the choice to not have dessert and maybe tomorrow they can make a better choice. In any case, the child learns that they made the wrong choice — not that you are a mean parent.
Give consequences for bad behavior.
If your child behaves badly, there should be a consequence for their behavior. Many parents often ignore the bad behavior and the child learns that they can behave any way they want. However, if you give consequences, the child learns that what they did was wrong.
Teach your children right and wrong.
This is a hot topic in today’s society. Many parents are of the mind, “I want my children to learn on their own and make their own decisions,” but children are egocentric and will only do what they want to do. They don’t know how to share toys or wait patiently for something unless we teach them. If we shirk our responsibility as parents, then our children will grow up to be selfish bullies that have no friends and no self-esteem. Children thrive when given healthy boundaries.
If you feel that you need a little guidance in your parenting skills, call a counselor and set up a few appointments. You, your children, and people who sit near you at an event will be glad you did.