I was very sad to hear that a student at my son’s school was seriously injured this week while riding his skateboard on campus. Apparently just before the accident he had been asked to get off his skateboard but proceeded to ride down a hill where he fell. When I talked to my son about the incident I expressed my concern for the injured student but also wondered why he would choose not to listen to what was asked of him.
My son informed me that this was how the majority of the kids behaved in response to directions from adults at his school. I was genuinely shocked to hear this. He countered by suggesting kids in my day were no different and I told him that yes, kids did break rules but if we were caught the vast majority of kids would stop the behavior; only a small percentage—usually known as the true troublemakers—would blatantly defy the rules. When asked how many kids on average reacted with defiance to what was being asked of them, my son estimated it was probably 70 percent.
This information was coming from a kid I know is considered a good kid, one to whom I have taught manners and to be a thoughtful human being, one who in this moment was telling me it was “just how kids are” and he really didn’t think it was that big a deal. I explained to him that it was a big deal and that such an attitude makes it very difficult for the staff at his school to do their jobs.
I asked how long he felt teachers and administrators could maintain a positive approach to the students if they were constantly being treated with defiance and disrespect? I suggested that that kind of attitude in my workplace, where I am a manager, would surely make my job vastly more difficult and frustrating. I think I made my point and concluded by saying he’d better not be one of the kids that chooses not to listen or to disrespect the rules at his school, even if that is how most of the other kids behave.
If you are a parent of school-age children, ask them how they treat the people who are there to help them. They might not like the rules, may not always like the people in these positions, but it’s not acceptable to treat these people with such indifference. Teaching our kids to be respectful, courteous human beings is our responsibility and I’ll bet I am not the only parent who may be surprised to find their child might not be extending the most basic courtesies toward others.