The other people sitting in the room were trying to listen to the speaker. Some of them, feeling annoyed, stood up and walked away. One woman offered to help the mother with her toddler. She refused her help and remained in the room throughout the session.
If you had a similar experience, what would you do? This mother wanted to listen to the talk but her toddler was preventing her from doing so. She remained in the audience because she felt that she had every right to be there.
Her toddler could not remain docile for such a long session intended for an adult audience only. He was restless and needed to move about. His mother was not considering his needs nor was she thinking of others who had to put up with the noise her son was making.
Love your neighbour: Children need to be taught that other people are important, too.
Many parents with young children today find it hard to strike a balance in the way they manage their children. They either become too lenient or too strict. There are those who abandon their good sense to make sure their children are happy at all times. They have no consideration for the feelings of others.
There are also parents who train their children to abide by their rules no matter what. I asked one mother how she managed to keep her young children from fussing during a meeting, and she told me: “They dare not make any noise. I have a small cane in my bag.”
Parents who take their young children along to meetings can enquire whether the organisers have special facilities prepared for young ones. It is up to the parents to make sure that they are able to accommodate young children before attending the programme.
Young children do need boundaries. They have to understand that their behaviour can affect others. They cannot run about and shout as they please in places where people conduct their meetings. If they do, the parents should tell the children to leave the room, out of respect for others.
Parents must make sure that their children understand how to conduct themselves in different places. At the same time, they need to help them without punishing them when they are unable to comply. They cannot be forced to remain still for long periods.
Children know that they are important people, but other people are also important. If they want others to respect them, they should do the same for others. Parents should show the children how to conduct themselves in public.
I work with children in many different settings. Common behaviours I have observed are of children pushing one another and cutting queues to be ahead or to grab a snack. Being competitive is not all bad but hurting others along the way to gaining success for oneself is not good.
One father once said to me: “I told my son that he has to fight hard with others to get what he wants.” There are those who even teach their children strategies and mean tricks just to stay ahead of others.
Children are naturally self-centered. They need adult guidance to show them that other people count, too. We want our children to have the values and virtues on which a positive sense of self is built.
If we are to feel good about ourselves, we need to make sure that we can make others feel good, too. The mother who only regards her own needs above others sets an example for her son. She has very little regard for her neighbours, therefore she cannot teach her son that others count.
Thinking about others and how our actions affect them will help us to behave in an acceptable manner. Then we will feel good about ourselves.
If you want your children to behave, you must first be their role model. Actions speak louder than words. Before you discipline your child, work on yourself first.