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Normal behavior or family influence?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

I took my son to the Burger King play area because that is the only place practically in the winter to get some exercise for him, plus he loves it. Anyway, he is two and sometimes he has a hard time getting from level to level. Way up beyond where I could reach him he started saying, in a somewhat panicked voice, "Help me, please help me!" He was stuck and was too scared to move.

I talked to him trying to get him out of it, and the other older kids kept playing and went right past him. He kept saying "Help me, please help!" and one girl turned and actually started to lift him up, but when her sister started getting past her, let him go and went off with her sister. My poor little boy gave the saddest cry you have ever heard. His feelings were so hurt!

Finally the grandmother asked them to help him. But I wonder about the kids, they typically seem to ignore him, even when he talks to them. Do you think that is just an egocentric part of development of kids, or do you think that their families don't emphasize helping others?

Just curious what others thoughts are!
post #2 of 18
That's very sad that today's kids can be so selfish! You know, maybe it's just coincidence but the times we've hung out with homeschooled kids they seemed much nicer. Maybe they are taught in school to look out for themselves and survive rather than taking the time to help others. I don't know . . .

I've had several bad experiences with other kids knocking her down and even their parents who saw and didn't say a word to their children or to me. I would have been apologizing all over the place.

Then there was the time when we were at an indoor amusement park type place. Dd was just about 20 mos. old and got way up into the play structure and got "lost." I scrambled up there to get her (luckily I'm petite) and when I reached her there was a two year old trying to carry her out of the net area, and another child was telling her it was okay. I met a third child on the way up who had gone to get me. Later found out they were having a homeschooling gathering there and all the children were homeschooled. I was so touched and also amazed at the difference in the children vs. the general public.

I think public schooled children can be taught to be compassionate too, but most of the time I see parents who are happy just to release thier kids to the system and not take the effort to raise them right.

post #3 of 18
I went to public school, and they made a big effort to encourage helping others. It worked pretty well. But a lot of the kids were coming in with a self-centered, aggressive attitude from home. I think it has more to do w/family than type of schooling...but there probably is a correlation, due to the types of families who tend to choose home-schooling. Holding family attitude constant, it seems to me that home-schooling would work against developing a helpful attitude, because when you're the only kid in your "class" and the curriculum and every aspect of the "school" are designed especially for you, nothing requires you to be patient with the needs of others.
post #4 of 18
post #5 of 18
My dd#1 tends to ignore dd#2 but will help other children when they need it. We try so hard to teach her to help her sister, but she refuses to help her. What can I do???
post #6 of 18

ilovebeingamom and envirobecca

Ilovebeingamom I think there are several answers to your questions. sometimes it is the parents sometimes it is the child themselves or a combination of the two. My cousins kids are an example of both. They have been taught that ONLY THEY count for anything and everyone else be hanged. I suspect that she may still be having problems at school and the daycare.When the oldest started school he would not work well with others because only HE was important and he should get anything that HE wanted. He should be allowed to push people around etc.
some parents don't want their children to interact or touch other kids for whatever reason (including today being a litigious society and you might sue them if they help and their child hurts yours instead.)
other kids may want to keep to themselves or be autistic like one of mine and only able to observe though mine is past that now
so therefore the many answers.

EnviroBecca after reading this

'due to the types of families who tend to choose home-schooling. Holding family attitude constant, it seems to me that home-schooling would work against developing a helpful attitude, because when you're the only kid in your "class" and the curriculum and every aspect of the "school" are designed especially for you, nothing requires you to be patient with the needs of others. "

I have to think you have met of the norm homeschoolers. And I know several with only one child too. Not sure what you mean by holding family attitude constant but here the family has to work together to function. And not being patient of needs of others?
the Majority of hsers I know are very very volunteer oriented -including mine when we have the opportunity. We just finished a service project in dec and have one in Feb for our personal homeschool. Our group does habitat for humanity starting as young as 9, the teens do food banks and many things at nursing homes as the preteens
our children here in this house are taught that we are all tied together and have to share this rock
and for myself this family of 6 has to learn patience and needs of others in order to function
even my autistic cfhild who used to sit and observe now goes out of his way to help other kids in need when hurt -pats them on the back or ask if they want him to get their mommy'
so please don't let the experience you seem to have be the only one you believe to be the norm
post #7 of 18
okay, this is totally T but...

Originally posted by EnviroBecca
...it seems to me that home-schooling would work against developing a helpful attitude, because when you're the only kid in your "class" and the curriculum and every aspect of the "school" are designed especially for you, nothing requires you to be patient with the needs of others.
I disagree. Mostly b/c homeschooling is not about being the only kid in your class. Even if you are an only child most homeschooling kids meet with other homeschooled kids regularly, participate in group classes on occaison, and participate in a wide range of group activities outside the home. And if you have more than one child, then each child must share their class with other children of different levels, aptitudes, interests, and ages.

And I think that your argument that having a curriculum designed "solely for you" promotes selfishness is also incorrect. One should subject one's child to an inappropriate curriculum just to teach them that other kids might learn better/differently than you? I just don't see the two as being related.

I say this not to criticize you, but your attitude about homeschooling seems to be one of ignorance. And I say this with all due respect b/c up until a couple months ago I would have not recognized the errors in your post at all. I have only recently begun to look into homeschooling and I've already recognized what ignorance I had about the subject, and since had many of my own assumptions "debunked". It's just not what I thought it was!
post #8 of 18
Trying to attribute this behavior to public schooling or home schooling frankly amazes me (not the OP's question, the responses). How do we know where these children were schooled? Why would we assume that the schooling is responsible for this behavior, when a whole host of other factors could play into it? I'm a little sensitive to people looking for every opportunity to lay every conceivable social ill on the doorstep of public schools because dh is a public school teacher, and because our public school provides an outstanding education, and most certainly emphasizes empathy, helpfulness, kindness, etc.

In any event, I think that part of this is that you were in a play yard at Burger King, where kids are likely to be overstimulated in the first place. I also think that some kids are conditioned to ignore strangers in public, and yes, I think ego development does factor in.
post #9 of 18
Trying to attribute this behavior to public schooling or home schooling frankly amazes me
I had said in my post that maybe it was coincidence, and had also stated that it was probably parenting more than schools. Please re-read my post.

I am a public schooled kid myself and consider myself very compassionate and well-mannered. It wasn't the schools that did that to me, it was my parents and grandparents who taught me to consider the feelings of others. My school experience was so awful as far as the other kids were concerned that I can see why some, if their schools were like mine, would have that "take care of myself" attitude. It's a matter of survival.

I was just making an observation and for whatever reason it has been my overwhelming experience that homeschooled kids in my area are much more compassionate and helpful and kind than public schooled kids in my area. I have four years experience at YMCA and Boys and Girls club under my belt and have found that the more involved the parents are, the better behaved the children are in most circumstances. Regardless of where they go to school this is true, but it would make sense that homeschooled kids usually have more involved parents. There are a lot of good parents who send their kids to public schools and they stay involved in their kids lives. But in my experience a great many of the parents are just too happy to let the schools raise their children.

post #10 of 18
I think there could a lot of reasons. My ds is always happy to help other kids out when he is asked to. But if not asked, he is much too shy/nervous to invade a smaller child's space by trying to help. He might well come and tell a grown-up, but he just would NOT touch a very small child without the child's permission.
post #11 of 18

i believe in my post

i said there are many answers
and I stand by that just as many answers as there are people and personality types
post #12 of 18
Sorry, I seem to have confused some people. By "holding family attitude constant," I mean, "if you compared families who have the same attitudes toward how to act in society, and the only difference between them is home-schooling or public schooling." As I said, most people who choose home-schooling also are good citizens who emphasize gentle behavior, volunteer work, etc., so if you meet a random home-schooler and a random public-schooler it's likely that the home-schooler will be nicer, but home-schooling is not the reason.

Imagine two typical obnoxious American families who believe that they are the best people ever and deserve to have everything they want without the inconvenience of considering others' needs. If one of those families home-schools, their decision to do so is motivated by wanting to teach their kids just exactly what they want without the inconvenience of considering that other kids might want to learn something different or that the world might need their kids to know other things. They're not going to seek out volunteer activities--why should they? I would bet that their kids are every bit as obnoxious as those of the other family with the same attitude, if not worse.

I've known a number of home-schoolers, including members of my family. They home-schooled for a variety of reasons, ranging from "my brilliant child was not adequately challenged by public school" to "we disagree with some of the curriculum" to "my child must be protected from the evil unChristian world." (The latter actually seems to be a very common reason for home-schooling, and does not facilitate teaching the child to get along well in society.) Some of these home-schooled kids are fabulous, kind, eloquent, well-behaved people; others are obnoxious, ignorant, self-righteous people only equipped to deal with a very narrow range of situations; most are in between. Just like people who went to school.

All I'm saying is that I don't believe social skills are automatically built into home-schooling; in fact, I think that opportunities for lessons in social skills are not as frequent in home-schooling, and thus parents have to make more of an effort to teach these skills. (Most do!) I'm not saying that public school is the only place to learn social skills, just that it is one place where that learning is facilitated by the nature of the situation.
post #13 of 18
Well, since this isn't a debate on homeschooling vs. public schooling (or private schooling, I suppose!), the only thing I'll say about that is that, as a person who taught in public elementary schools for a number of years, I did observe that SOME kids tend to learn that dog-eat-dog mentality from being in such large groups. However, the kids who tended to behave that way were the ones who were not being taught values in the home, so the school was more of a catalyst than a cause.

I do believe that kids in playgrounds often get so caught up in their play that they might behave this way, but on the other hand, I definitely see that some kids seem to have a whole lot more empathy than others, even at my dd's age (four), and can only conclude that it is what they have been taught. I don't think kids learn empathy by instinct - they have to be taught by example first, and by some actual direct teaching, too. Sadly, a lot of PARENTS I see have that "me, me, me" attitude and heartily pass it on to their kids, even encouraging selfish behavior so their kids can always get the best or be first or whatever. I have seen HIDEOUS behavior on the part of parents at birthday parties, when there is a pinata, for example - helping their kids grab as much crap as possible. I'm sure many of you have seen this too!

All I can do is teach my dd some values and be thrilled that she isn't like this...and give her a special treat at home because all she got from the pinata was one measly lollipop...:
post #14 of 18
Thanks for clarifying, EnviroBecca! You're right, I did misunderstand your original post.

Sorry for derailing this thread!
post #15 of 18
LunaMom wrote:
I don't think kids learn empathy by instinct - they have to be taught by example first, and by some actual direct teaching, too.
I'm not sure about this. It's so hard to tell what's innate and what's socialized! It's also hard to know what's really going on in kids' minds from what we see in their behavior. Some of the concepts that were rock-hard tenets of developmental psychology have been disproved by creatively designed research studies that looked at the situation from a different angle.

On one hand, nearly all toddlers and many older children show at least some "selfish" or "egocentric" behavior when interacting w/others. When kids are old enough to talk, most demonstrate some resistance to ideas about restraining one's own desires to avoid hurting others. Attempts to guide their behavior in more socially harmonious directions often require many repetitions before the "lesson" sinks in. Thus, it seems that babies are born self-centered and need to learn empathy.

OTOH, it might be that we don't recognize early signs of empathy because of infants' different ways of expressing themselves, and/or that empathy is discouraged by the way kids are raised and then has to be "put back in" by teaching. For example, when someone nearby is in distress, even a tiny infant usually will become distressed as well and sometimes reach out toward the distressed person. Some people say this is a reaction to the unpleasant noise and the reaching is an attempt to make the person shut up! But it looks to me like an empathetic reaction ("I'm sad that you are sad!") and an attempt to comfort. When this reaction is discouraged ("Oh, stop crying, nobody hurt YOU!") it gradually fades away; baby has been taught not to do that. Of course, CIO and similar techniques that demonstrate a lack of empathy for baby may be teaching "we don't do that" and thus discouraging baby from offering empathy as well as from seeking it.
post #16 of 18
Interesting point, EnviroBecca! What I really meant, and what I should have written, was that I don't think kids learn empathy ENTIRELY by instinct. I think that the "seeds" might be there, but there has to be some modeling and teaching for it to flower. (How's that for a metaphor? ) I do remember dd as a baby stopping what she was doing and looking at other crying babies, and not looking away until someone comforted them.
post #17 of 18
I didn't read most of the replies because the answers went in a direction I never could have dreamt. Woo. But I don't know anything about homeschooling beyond teaching them to count and such and sending them to a great preschool..SO...all that aside...

I think it's very simple. As the older child, I'd be afraid you'd see me pulling his arm or trying to lift him up and you'd think ~I~ made him cry. I don't want to get in trouble for making a baby cry! She may have tried to help him out, but hey, she's a kid, that kid isn't her responsibility, right?

We want our babies to be babies and not get too independent too fast...but that older child has to know what to do or she's not being properly taught to look out for everyone around her? She's a kid.

I teach my kids to be nice, but sometimes they just don't think past "Hey. That kid is screaming."

I've been in the same situation...my kid screaming her head off inside the McDonalds germ breeder (blech!). I simply asked the other children if they could give her a hand because she was scared. They were happy to oblige. I've also asked my own children to help another terrified or otherwise stuck child.

But I have that "village to raise a child" attitude and I tell other people's children what to do all the time. lol I haven't even been assaulted for it yet. (I'm sure it'll happen eventually, though. )
post #18 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks for everyone's replies. Took an interesting turn! I guess I still don't know what conclusion to make of it. There have been children before who all they want to do is help the little ones from level to level. So like everything else, it probably is just that mix of nature vs. nurture.

I hope though that when my son is their age he will look to help others when it is needed and not just be out for himself. I shudder at the thought of people who actually teach their children to be selfish, and I know some close relatives who actually do that. But I can also see that children aren't perfect and don't always know what to do!

Again, thanks for your thoughts!
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