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OPINION: Parents need to take control before kids become brats

SETTING RULES: Parents can easily forget, mid-meltdown, that it's up to them to keep kids in line.
SETTING RULES: Parents can easily forget, mid-meltdown, that it's up to them to keep kids in line. Thinkstock

SELFLESS parents who put their kids before their partners are creating a generation of entitled, spoiled children who get away with too much because we let them.

That's the gospel according to family psychologist John Rosemond, whose words have struck a chord on social media, with too-often forgotten husbands of the world sharing the parenting advice column far and wide.

In it, Dr Rosemond says the most important people in a family are the parents - and we need to remember that, for the sake of our country.

"When we were kids it was clear to us that our parents were the most important people in our families,” the US psychologist penned in a Florida paper.

"And that, right there, is why we respected our parents, and that, right there, is why we looked up to adults in general.”

"Yes...once upon a time in America, children were second-class citizens, to their advantage.”

He goes on to say that when growing up, it was clear his parents' relationship was the top priority - so as kids, they didn't sleep in their bed or interrupt their conversations.

"The family meal, at home, was regarded as more important than after-school activities,” he wrote.

"The primary objective should not be raising a straight-A student who excels at three sports, goes to an A-list university and becomes a prominent brain surgeon.

"The primary objective is to raise a child such that community and culture are strengthened - 'our child is the most important person in our family' is the first step to raising a child who feels entitled.”

So, by driving our kids to swimming, gymnastics, tennis and back again to give our little geniuses the best possible advantage in life - actually we are achieving the opposite.

Whether you're a parent or not, anyone will tell you kids behaving badly is not a new phenomenon.

They're in the newsagent, yelling for a lolly while dad buys the newspaper. In the cafe, screaming for a milkshake while mum orders her much-needed coffee. On the playground, screeching because they have to wait for the swing, which they want to go on NOWWWWWW. But - are they getting worse?

A report released this week showed that yes - yes they are. And it looks like it's all our fault.

Almost half of 15-year-olds in the Australian schools studied were badly behaved, while almost 40% in Victoria reported disorder in most science classes.

Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham was quick to blame "communities and families” who he said needed to enforce a zero-tolerance approach to bad behaviour.

"This research demonstrates that more money spent within a school doesn't automatically buy you better discipline, engagement or ambition,” he said.

"Turning these results around cannot rest solely on the shoulders of teachers or principals.”

"Ill-discipline or a bad attitude doesn't only hurt the outcomes of the student who brings such an approach to school but can infect entire classrooms of students.”

Kids need discipline. Kids need rules, and kids need to be taught to respect their elders - that's fact.

But it can be easy for a parent to cave - this one included on the odd sanity-saving occasion.

To give the chocolate egg to stop the meltdown for a minute, or buy the cheap stupid toy that will be broken within seconds just to have a moment's peace when it all gets too much.

We can blame their age - the terrible twos, the three-nager, the eff-you fours - and we can claim it's all just a stage, that it's not the poor little poppet's fault and the bad behaviour will stop. It has to. Doesn't it?

But what can be easily forgotten mid-meltdown is that it's up to us to control.

Kids don't need to do four things after school and more on the weekend. They need to come home, have something to eat and a chat about their day with people who care enough to ask.

They need to explore in the garden, play outside and resolve their own conflicts when they arise.

They need you to say no to the ice-cream filled milkshake at 8am, and they need you to punish them if they do the wrong thing. Because if you don't, they won't learn not to do it again.

So is it time we went back to basics with kids?

It's time we bring back the Mr and Mrs so-and-so, looking at someone in the eyes when you speak to them, not talking back, being polite and well mannered - no questions asked, no whingeing allowed.

Respect your elders, mind your manners and do the right thing.

Don't yell out in class. Be helpful to your teacher. Be a friend to your peers.

Before it's too late, and we are stuck with classrooms of disruptive, rude, know-it-all kids who grow into insolent, rude, know-it-all teenagers, who turn into arrogant, rude, know-it-all adults.

It's a slippery slope my friends. Maybe it's time we teach our kids that before they chuck a tantrum over having to wait for the slide.

Topics:  children family life parenting parenting advice


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