or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Mom › Parenting › Why are kids so mean sometimes?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Why are kids so mean sometimes? - Page 2

post #21 of 51
Thread Starter 

I homeschool, too, and bullying and the way schools as institutions don't deal with it are two reasons.

 

I have to disagree that young children don't display empathy. My almost 7yo has expressed empathy since he was very young. He has always perked up and been affected by a crying baby or child. He wants to make sure the child is ok. He starts discussions about what he perceives as unfairness or injustice or bullying. I think kids who are never treated with empathy won't understand it. A simple example is the very common way that I see most parents deal with their young child's hurts and upsets. They tell their children it's no big deal and to just brush it off. They tell their children they aren't really hurt.

 

I do agree that we are all born with an innate desire to have power over ourselves and our own lives. The instinct to control our own destinies is not the same as the behavior that we use in order to achieve that. I lean more toward the idea that the behavior, to a large extent, is learned.

 

John Lennon was in entertainment news a few days ago. I guess it was his birthday. I'm not really sure because I'm not what you'd call a fan (I don't worship any other person) and I didn't pay that much attention to the news. I did catch a few snippets here and there. One thing that stuck in my head was a quote from him. I'm not going to get it exactly right. It was something like, "If everyone would demand peace instead of a bigger TV, there would be peace." Beyond basic necessities, we learn that having more is better.

post #22 of 51

While I think that bullying can be learned, it isn't always.  For example, my ds is in a very small daycare center, there are 4children under the age of 2.  My ds is the oldest and is 23mo, 2 of them are a week apart in age and are 18mo, and the youngest is 15mo.

 

One of the 18mo's went through a period of hitting, biting, and kicking the other children - none of the others have ever exhibited this behavior at daycare. He would do it out of the blue sometimes (when the teachers thought he was giving hugs, kisses whatever), other times when he was angry, other times when he was frustrated.

 

I don't think anyone on here would label him a bully - he's too young right? But where did he get that behavior? Not at home, I'm good friends with his mom, and she has never done CIO, she's very gentle in her discipline (far more gentle than I am), and she does address the behavior (unlike some who use GD who just don't do anything). She's a great mom!

 

I don't thin the behavior itself is "learned" - but I do think it needs to "unlearned" with the guidance of adults. I think when parents notice, or are told, about their child displaying bullying behaviors they need to act on it. But saying, "Oh, we are a GD household so my son doesn't know how to bully" certainly isn't doing anyone any favors. I'm sure its true that some children will not engage in bullying, but as parents we need to have our eyes wide open and watch for it so that we can address it if it comes up.

 

I also disagree that young children don't display empathy - just the other day my 23mo gave me a hug and kiss when I was crying (I stubbed my toe and it hurt so bad!), and he and his friends at daycare hug each other when one of them is crying.

post #23 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by MarineWife View Post

John Lennon was in entertainment news a few days ago. I guess it was his birthday. I'm not really sure because I'm not what you'd call a fan (I don't worship any other person) and I didn't pay that much attention to the news. I did catch a few snippets here and there. One thing that stuck in my head was a quote from him. I'm not going to get it exactly right. It was something like, "If everyone would demand peace instead of a bigger TV, there would be peace." Beyond basic necessities, we learn that having more is better.


John Lennon "Peace" waffle was rather ridiculously simplistic. Does "peace" take precedence over justice? Who gets to define both the peace and the justice? Can anyone over the age of 12 honestly go believe that all we have to do is "give peace a chance" as though that is all it takes?
 

post #24 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by MarineWife View Post


John Lennon was in entertainment news a few days ago. I guess it was his birthday. I'm not really sure because I'm not what you'd call a fan (I don't worship any other person) and I didn't pay that much attention to the news.


He was in the news because it was the 30th anniversary of his death.

post #25 of 51
Thread Starter 

Again, I'm not talking about the natural aggressive defensiveness of toddlers. I'm talking about school-aged children whom you would think would have been taught there are other ways to deal with problems. I'm also not talking about when children become overwhelmed or overstimulated and lose control. I'm talking about deliberate bullying just for the sake of making someone else feel bad. I don't think that is natural or normal or instinctive.

 

It seems to me that somewhere along the way children who are bullies learn that they can get whatever it is that they want that way. Where that is learned is what I'm wondering about, I guess. Is it learned from parents who bully their kids? Is it learned from watching other children bullying and being bullied? Is it learned from watching other people in IRL and media who behave badly? Most likely, a combination of all of that coupled with parents and other influential older people who don't attempt to show children that there are other ways.

 

I have to actively seek out parents who are respectful toward their children. If I just randomly associate with people from my neighborhood or my dh's work, I am surrounded by parents who belittle, berate and hit their children. They use intimidation and punishment to address their child's perceived "bad" behavior but do nothing to model or foster "good" behavior. Examples, spanking a young child for hitting another child. Punishing their children for interrupting, not listening or otherwise being rude while the parents don't ever listen to anything the children have to say. That makes no sense but I see it all the time.

 

And, yes, I think that if most people in the world demanded peace and started acting in accordance with peace, there would be mostly peace. Will there always be people who will use intimidation and violence to get what they want? Yes. But if the majority of people in the world would not do that, there would be a lot less pain and suffering. There is overt violence and there is subtle violence. I think most people fall into the trap of using subtle violence as a defense mechanism because they perceive so much violence and threat around them.

 

Whether or not I think it's possible for the majority of people in the world to get that and start doing it is another question. Sadly, I think that most people are too concerned with surviving (albeit, maybe a warped sense of survival) to contemplate life beyond that.

post #26 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by MarineWife View Post

Again, I'm not talking about the natural aggressive defensiveness of toddlers. I'm talking about school-aged children whom you would think would have been taught there are other ways to deal with problems. I'm also not talking about when children become overwhelmed or overstimulated and lose control. I'm talking about deliberate bullying just for the sake of making someone else feel bad. I don't think that is natural or normal or instinctive.



I don't think its only toddlers that exhibit natural aggressiveness though.  Children go through many developmental stages where aggression in some form is exhibited, toddlerhood is not the only one.  I also think that teaching children to use other methods of problem solving is a continuing process.  Yes, parents should teach their children to use other methods, but then we have to stay on top of it b/c our children grow and change, are exposed to outside influences - we can't assume that we've done our job of teaching alternate problem solving by the time they are school age.

 

I agree that bullying can be a learned behavior, but it certainly isn't always.  Kids also learn it from each other.  There are parents who practice GD that say, "Oh, I know my child would never lie to me, the other kid must be lying." - but thats putting a child on a pedestal which isn't any way to teach them how to act.  I've seen posters on MDC say that their children would never do the things they are being accused of, sometimes I'm sure its true, other times I read the posts and think, well that makes no sense at all.  No one wants to believe that their children would do such things, but I really don't think it necessarily has anything to do with parenting.  I'm sure there are some parents on MDC who have children who have become bullies - that doesn't mean the parents stink, it just means they have more work to do teaching their child. 

 

It's sad that you live somewhere that parents bullying their children is the norm, but I would wager a guess that not all those children are bully's.

post #27 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by pink_emerald77 View Post

I can't say that I know how kids acted 50 years ago, but I can tell you, I believe kids are getting meaner and meaner by the day. And the things that they talk about, these 11/12 year olds, are things I never thought about til I was in high school. Our generation is growing up too fast, imo. And the innocence and simplicity of childhood is no longer considered sacred.



Early philosophers made this argument. It's a staple of every generation in Western culture.

post #28 of 51

VisionaryMom is right.  Also, childhood as we know it has only been around for a 150 years.  Prior to this, children were considered little adults.  The idea of protecting 'childhood innocence' is a very new one.  I believe that we often tend to romanticize childhood... not that this is wrong.  It's just helpful to realize that this is a newer philosophy.  Otherwise, we become susceptible to chasing an old world kinder dream.  

post #29 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Super~Single~Mama View Post

I agree that bullying can be a learned behavior, but it certainly isn't always.  Kids also learn it from each other. 

 

It's sad that you live somewhere that parents bullying their children is the norm, but I would wager a guess that not all those children are bully's.

 


The part I bolded:  It's still a learned behavior even if they learn it from each other.  It doesn't really matter who they learn it from.  It has to come from somewhere.  You have one kid who has a stable, loving home life and another who is bullied at home... the one who is bullied at home teaches the other how to bully.  I just disagree that kids are natural bullies. 

post #30 of 51

 

Quote:
I don't think its only toddlers that exhibit natural aggressiveness though.  Children go through many developmental stages where aggression in some form is exhibited, toddlerhood is not the only one.

True. Heck, adults have "natural aggressiveness". Men get a testosterone surge every hour! Aggressiveness is a tried-and-true method of getting things from a weaker party (not necessarily physically weaker, but psychologically weaker - it can include adults). It doesn't seem "unnatural" that kids would notice that and use it to their advantage.

post #31 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by velochic View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by Super~Single~Mama View Post

I agree that bullying can be a learned behavior, but it certainly isn't always.  Kids also learn it from each other. 

 

It's sad that you live somewhere that parents bullying their children is the norm, but I would wager a guess that not all those children are bully's.

 


The part I bolded:  It's still a learned behavior even if they learn it from each other.  It doesn't really matter who they learn it from.  It has to come from somewhere.  You have one kid who has a stable, loving home life and another who is bullied at home... the one who is bullied at home teaches the other how to bully.  I just disagree that kids are natural bullies. 



It can be a learned behavior, and if children are learning it from their peers it still needs to be addressed.  I guess what I hear the OP trying to say is that only kids who are brought up in authoritarian households are bully's - but thats not true.  And as parents who practice GD we need to be aware of what outside influences are teaching our children - homeschooled, public school, private school, whatever - b/c they can learn it other places.  I think that the way we treat our children is most influential, but that may not be true for all children and personalities.  I think if I acted like my ds could never ever ever become a bully b/c I'm such an awesome parent I would be doing him, and his peers, a huge disservice.

 

And, really, if we just allowed our children to hit/kick/pull hair/etc when they're toddlers, and don't teach them not to do it, they would probably grow up to be bully's.  Considering most children do those things to some extent  as a toddler, most children probably are "natural bullies" and we teach them alternate ways of behaving.  Now I'll get to hear from everyone who's children never ever once even tried to do any of those things b/c they were born perfect eyesroll.gif

post #32 of 51

 

Quote:

We homeschool also. ButI have learned that bullies are everywhere, not just at school. They are at the YMCA, the mall, the dance centre. It is easier to deal with bullies when they arent faced with it every single recess. But unfortunelay our homeschooled kids are not safe from bullies either.

I realise that, but my comment was tied into my theory about bullying being worse in demographically-similar groups. At the YMCA, the mall or the dance centre, kids are more likely to come across kids of a variety of ages. It doesn't prevent bullying entirely, but it removes one of the triggers, ie. lots of kids of the same age, in the same social group, in which they've had time to develop a pecking order and hash out a strict this-is-cool-this-is-not regime.

post #33 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by pink_emerald77 View Post

I can't say that I know how kids acted 50 years ago, but I can tell you, I believe kids are getting meaner and meaner by the day. And the things that they talk about, these 11/12 year olds, are things I never thought about til I was in high school. Our generation is growing up too fast, imo. And the innocence and simplicity of childhood is no longer considered sacred.


Respectfully, but tell that to the Jewish people who survived the pogroms and World War II, and to the kids in sub-Sahara Africa that have survived various injustices in which "kids" were catalysts.  Kids have killed; kids have been informers; kids have shunned people on the basis of their race, religion and creed.  Kids take their cues from their surroundings and go with it.  Kids have been actively involved in "mean" things for thousands of years.  Life isn't so simple as talking about or thinking in romantic terms about the "old days" and the innocence thereof.  Kids have been involved in violence in every aspect of known history.  Why?  Because it was okay to treat people shamefully (in our terms of shamefulness).  There were mean kids when I was growing up (and I'm on the older end of the spectrum here) and there are mean kids now.  Kids aren't meaner now then they were then.  There has always been a pecking order and sometimes that order is modeled in the form of violence.    What has changed is our tolerance of such behavior.  What was acceptable or over-looked then is not now.  I think that is a good thing.   I think it is good that we recognize the mean  in people and shame them accordingly.  I think a lot of this begins at home, not in school or social groups.  Modern schooling as we know it hasn't always existed, and there have been horrid times in history in which children were active participants.  It is the societal acceptance of meaness that is disturbing, not peer pressure, which is just an off-branch of the greater problem, in my opinion.


Edited by CatsCradle - 12/12/10 at 3:11pm
post #34 of 51
Thread Starter 

Actually, I never said that all kids who are bullies must have come from homes where they are bullied. If you read my last post, you will see that I think it probably comes from a variety of sources. My point is that I do think it is a learned behavior and not something that they are born with, not original sin, as it were. I also never argued that older people don't have a natural aggressiveness, either. That is not what I'm talking about here. To me there is a difference between the person who expresses their natural, defensive aggression and a person who does something deliberately mean just for the sake of being mean.

 

post #35 of 51

Having lived in other cultures, there is a certain "meanness" that I observe in American kids that I feel is different that the typical human aggression/power plays, etc.

 

I am sure the issue is multi-faceted but I think a huge contributor is media.  In sitcoms, characters get laughs by making fun of others.  Family members cut each other down and use sarcasm constantly.  Celebrities are constantly criticized for wearing the wrong thing, gaining too much weight, having the wrong hairstyle.  The worst contestants are American Idol are shown just so that people can make fun of them.  Certain characteristics (being overweight, being a "nerd" or "uncool" etc) are overemphasized and jokes are constantly made about such characteristics that make people different.

 

Children imitate what they see.  most kids spend many more hours in front of a screen than they do with their parents.  I have been shocked at hearing how mean characters are on some popular tv shows for kids.

 

When I was living in another culture, I tripped while walking.  Several of my friends immidiately rushed to my side with genuine concern to see if I was ok (it was a little stumble and it was obvious I wasn't really hurt).  Nobody laughed or even smiled.  Here, if a kid trips while they are walking, everyone bursts out laughing and will probably make fun of the kid for weeks.  We have been conditioned to think that others mistakes or misfortunes are funny.  this is not typical human nature but it goes beyond that and I think the media is a huge factor in creating this culture of meanness.

post #36 of 51

well i think various factors are at play.

 

1. our kids are constantly being asked to fit in a certain box. adn there is something wrong with them if they dont fit in. so i think social conditioning is coming from that. so in their world everyone has to fit in a box.

 

2. break down of the community feeling - breakdown of the family. extreme stress on the families - whether rich or poor. we are getting socially conditioned to react. not think. 

 

i think children are like the canary in the coalmine. they are truly pointing out how degraded our society is getting. in this 'all about me', 'me me me' culture - its about every man for himself and as others have pointed out that sense of power. we should have power over others. 

post #37 of 51

 

 I have to say that my view on this is a bit different. I dont think that putting the same age kids together creates a more ripe atmosphere for bullying and putting in various aged kids creates a lessened atmosphere for bullying.

 

For example, my daughter is in 4 dance classes a week ( 1 pre pro tap, 1 pre pro ballet, 1 req jazz and 1 req ballet). In 3 of them she, at 6, is the youngest by up to 3 years. In her pro ballet class she is the youngest by only a year.

 

In the req class where there are kids from 7 to 9, my daughter is bullied more often b/c she is younger and therefore weaker. She is isolated b/c of her age and her lack of "standing" in the age grouping, while also being picked on b/c she is seen as the teachers pet..the youngest who is good enough to play with the older girls. I have had to step in more then once.

 

In her pro class, she is younger by only a year. There has not been once where I have had to step in and intervine. They see her as a peer and not as a threat.

 

I think when you put kids of varying ages in, you are creating an automatic peeking order. The older kids are at the top of the heirachy, and the youngest is at the bottom. The younger ones with the stronger personality will automatically take up head over the older ones who are quiter and not as dominant.

 

 

 

 

 

 

post #38 of 51
Thread Starter 

bluedaisy ~ I think you make some really good points. I'm reluctant to blame the media because my experience has been that it's only as influential as you let it be. I think the problem with the  media comes when parents don't discuss the behaviors of the characters with their kids or even laugh along with everyone else. I don't restrict my children's TV watching much. I don't let them watch very scary, gruesome, violent or sexual adult shows and movies but they can watch pretty much whatever kid's shows they want. We watch them together, though, and we discuss what happens on the shows. We talk about who the person being picked on or made fun of must feel and if we would want to feel that way. That sort of thing. I think because of that my kids understand that a lot of the behavior is mean instead of funny.

 

Your experience in another culture is very interesting.

 

beenmum ~ I wonder how much of the teasing from the older kids comes from what they've learned from other exclusive environments. I don't know if most of the teasing and bullying that goes on in school, for example, comes from same aged peers or older kids. What I see from the kids in my neighborhood is that the slightly older and/or bigger kids pick on the younger and/or smaller ones. I have read that is a trickle down effect. Adults treat teens with disrespect. Teens treat tweens with disrespect. Tweens treat younger children with disrespect. I can't remember where I read about this now but it was comparing western society and culture to other cultures where teens are treated with much more respect and caring. Those teens then treat the younger children in the same way.

post #39 of 51



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Super~Single~Mama View Post

While I think that bullying can be learned, it isn't always.  For example, my ds is in a very small daycare center, there are 4children under the age of 2.  My ds is the oldest and is 23mo, 2 of them are a week apart in age and are 18mo, and the youngest is 15mo.

 

One of the 18mo's went through a period of hitting, biting, and kicking the other children - none of the others have ever exhibited this behavior at daycare. He would do it out of the blue sometimes (when the teachers thought he was giving hugs, kisses whatever), other times when he was angry, other times when he was frustrated.

 

I don't think anyone on here would label him a bully - he's too young right? But where did he get that behavior? Not at home, I'm good friends with his mom, and she has never done CIO, she's very gentle in her discipline (far more gentle than I am), and she does address the behavior (unlike some who use GD who just don't do anything). She's a great mom!

 

I don't thin the behavior itself is "learned" - but I do think it needs to "unlearned" with the guidance of adults. I think when parents notice, or are told, about their child displaying bullying behaviors they need to act on it. But saying, "Oh, we are a GD household so my son doesn't know how to bully" certainly isn't doing anyone any favors. I'm sure its true that some children will not engage in bullying, but as parents we need to have our eyes wide open and watch for it so that we can address it if it comes up.

 

I also disagree that young children don't display empathy - just the other day my 23mo gave me a hug and kiss when I was crying (I stubbed my toe and it hurt so bad!), and he and his friends at daycare hug each other when one of them is crying.


Just on the bolded part, your post assumes that a parent who doesn't CIO, is gentle in discipline, and addresses behavior is still not capable of parenting in a way that makes a child act out.  I agree that on the surface those factors should give a child a better chance of not exhibiting those behaviors, but you simply never know what else is happening in a home.  Everything from subtle negative influences to blatant meanness is possible when no one is around.  I'm NOT saying your particular friend is like that or her home is like that... just saying you really can't be sure that because a parent does those 3 things, there aren't other factors/dynamics in play that could make a child act out.

 

I also agree that whether a child turns into a bully/consciously mean or not is a sum of 3 factors that are all very influential: how they're parented (or not); how their peers act; and the temperment they're born with.  I think parenting and termperment are most influential though, because that determines the base behavior on which they'll process and respond to peer behavior.

post #40 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by LROM View Post



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Super~Single~Mama View Post

While I think that bullying can be learned, it isn't always.  For example, my ds is in a very small daycare center, there are 4children under the age of 2.  My ds is the oldest and is 23mo, 2 of them are a week apart in age and are 18mo, and the youngest is 15mo.

 

One of the 18mo's went through a period of hitting, biting, and kicking the other children - none of the others have ever exhibited this behavior at daycare. He would do it out of the blue sometimes (when the teachers thought he was giving hugs, kisses whatever), other times when he was angry, other times when he was frustrated.

 

I don't think anyone on here would label him a bully - he's too young right? But where did he get that behavior? Not at home, I'm good friends with his mom, and she has never done CIO, she's very gentle in her discipline (far more gentle than I am), and she does address the behavior (unlike some who use GD who just don't do anything). She's a great mom!

 

I don't thin the behavior itself is "learned" - but I do think it needs to "unlearned" with the guidance of adults. I think when parents notice, or are told, about their child displaying bullying behaviors they need to act on it. But saying, "Oh, we are a GD household so my son doesn't know how to bully" certainly isn't doing anyone any favors. I'm sure its true that some children will not engage in bullying, but as parents we need to have our eyes wide open and watch for it so that we can address it if it comes up.

 

I also disagree that young children don't display empathy - just the other day my 23mo gave me a hug and kiss when I was crying (I stubbed my toe and it hurt so bad!), and he and his friends at daycare hug each other when one of them is crying.


Just on the bolded part, your post assumes that a parent who doesn't CIO, is gentle in discipline, and addresses behavior is still not capable of parenting in a way that makes a child act out.  I agree that on the surface those factors should give a child a better chance of not exhibiting those behaviors, but you simply never know what else is happening in a home.  Everything from subtle negative influences to blatant meanness is possible when no one is around.  I'm NOT saying your particular friend is like that or her home is like that... just saying you really can't be sure that because a parent does those 3 things, there aren't other factors/dynamics in play that could make a child act out.

 

I also agree that whether a child turns into a bully/consciously mean or not is a sum of 3 factors that are all very influential: how they're parented (or not); how their peers act; and the temperment they're born with.  I think parenting and termperment are most influential though, because that determines the base behavior on which they'll process and respond to peer behavior.


Thats not what I was saying at all - I was pointing out that children go through aggressive stages, and it has nothing to do with our parenting.  A child who has never been left to CIO, whose parents practice GD, etc can still be aggressive - most 18mo - 2yo children go through a stage similar to the one my friends child is going through right now.  My ds did too.  It's NOT b/c of the way they were each parented, and just go check out the GD forum here on MDC - there are posts about hitting/kicking/aggression going up almost daily.  If we did not address those things, our children would grow up to bully other children.

 

I don't think that practicing AP gives our children a better chance at not exhibiting those behaviors, I think it gives us parents a better chance at being able to effectively ADDRESS those behaviors - which I think is an important distinction.  I don't AP b/c I think it will make my child "better" than the next child, I do it b/c I want to be in tune with my ds so that when something is wrong I know about it, and then can address it. 

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Parenting
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Mom › Parenting › Why are kids so mean sometimes?