I took my daughter to Boo at the Zoo last night. It’s a terrific fundraiser run by the Smithsonian’s National Zoo here in D.C. with sponsors and donors manning kiosks throughout the zoo, so that the kids can mix a little trick or treating with a little zoological learning along the way. It is also a complete madhouse.
As with any event upon which a thousand or so children converge, mayhem reigns. But most parents are experienced in this type of pediatric stampede. And it’s an opportune time to impose a crash course on sharing, waiting turns and making friends with others. You can treat it as a glass half full/glass half empty opportunity if you will. And most parents do as well as the children…exercising appropriate social graces.
And so it is that I am always shocked and disappointed when I encounter graceless parents passing on graceless lessons to their children. Among them: shoving your child ahead of others in a frenzy; shouting at them that they shouldn’t shout; teaching imperious entitlement by insisting that for whatever reason they deserve more; blaming unacceptable behaviors (e.g., pushing, hitting) on others’ unacceptable behavior.
It just makes me so sad to see these children who are so malleable being lead down the wrong path. Don’t be afraid to discipline your child – you don’t have to be mean, just keep it simple and be firm. And don’t lose your perspective – your child is always watching you and the others around you. Be the example and treat them as you would like to be treated. Having children or even just being around them is a priceless opportunity to shape a better person.