Your kids (and mine) will sometimes lie, cheat and otherwise be less than stellar human beings. I know that when you watch them sleeping they look like perfect angels but trust me, I work with children for a living, after all, and none of them are perfect. Even little N, who told me I was better than a Pokemon, and little G, who said I smelled like Skittles, are not perfect. But, you know what, that’s okay. Just make sure you are aware of it, and deal with it when need be or else those ‘perfect angels’ might grow up thinking their bad behavior is okay.
It’s Probably Not a Reflection of Your Parenting
I don’t know you, so I can’t say for sure, but I’m pretty sure the vast majority of us don’t raise our children to be mean. So, if you suspect your child is dabbling in being a class A jerk, don’t beat yourself up about it. And, if you notice my kids are doing it, kindly let me know. I’ll look at the facts presented with an objective lens (or more likely, a ‘what did she do now? lens) and decide how best to deal with it. You’d be smart to do the same.
It’s Exploratory Behavior (Most of the Time)
Sometimes kids like to try things on for size. Is my kid acting ‘too cool for school’, ‘like a mean girl/boy’ or a total bully? This doesn’t mean my child (or yours) is any of these things, it just means they are exploring their options and it’s up to us to make sure they don’t decide to continue down a bad path. Child-centered media makes being mean look pretty glamourous. Have you ever watched an episode of anything written with girl viewers in mind? It’s an uphill battle for sure, but I’m willing to fight.
You Probably Did it Too
You might remember your childhood as being rosy, but the truth is we all made some poor choices. Can you remember ever being on the wrong side of a teacher? Remember taking a turn in some bullying yourself? Did you ever lie to your parents to get a friend or sibling in trouble? Sure, you did. You most likely didn’t like it, especially if you spent any time on the other end of that kind of behavior, so be aware that your kids might be guilty, at times, too.
That Doesn’t Make it Okay
Just because you don’t teach it, or encourage it, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consistently address bad behavior. I’m not talking about whiny, cranky, or defiant kids here. I’d have a second full-time job if I had to address each and every misdemeanor. I’m talking about when our kids hurt others with their words or actions. Teach them it’s not okay, and remember to model what you expect. It’s okay to adore your children, but it’s also important to be aware that it’s our job to take an honest look at how they are behaving and help them make the best choices they can.