Mean Kid Behavior Starts Early
We can all become defensive of our offspring, despite the fact that some parents might actually be raising a mean kid. My daughter just turned 13 months. She’s walking, blabbering, and learning words like fish, beach, up, dog, yeah, no, hi, momma, and dada.I am even convinced she has said “I love you.” Her new three-word phrase is “Who is that?” She has said this at least a half-dozen different times, and on each occasion, my husband and I get so excited. We praise our petite princess, who seems to be showing all the signs of being a quick learner and an early talker.
She’s highly observant and seems to be quite the fearless one. She has a love for kids of all ages and is not the least bit timid around bigger kids. But, sometimes due to her small stature, toddlers her age or older might tower over her and exert their dominance. I can’t believe how fast little kids learn how to be mean. No parent wants to admit that their toddler is becoming a mean kid, but denial only makes unwanted behavior worse.
Kids are sponges, however they learn to explore their independence, which can either come out in a sweet or in a bratty way. It is my belief that kids don’t demonstrate personalities that they haven’t learned or picked up from somewhere or someone.
Once upon a time, I worked with behaviorally challenged children. They ranged from 5 to 17. Most, if not, all were abused and came from broken homes. What I learned is that many kids who are mean, do not always have parents that are abusive. The kids that I met while working with group home kids were sweet, loving, and all they ever wanted was to be loved in return. More people who grow up in dysfunctional families can relate to the core basic need that every human has and, that’s the desire to be accepted, protected and loved.
After visiting many parks located in nice South Bay neighborhoods, I’ve been surprised how many mean little toddlers and 4 to 5 year olds from affluent homes who have displayed horrible behavior and have said some mean things to my daughter. I’m always present to make sure that bullying behavior is put to an end. My husband has also stepped in and had to correct a little 5-year-old boy. The boy said, “She can’t play here, she’s too small,” and tried to shove our daughter out of the way. My husband told that little boy to keep his hands to himself and that our daughter can and will play in the park with everyone else. Of course the kid was there with a nanny and his parents weren’t supervising.
Another time, a little first grader was playing with a boy her age, but told Ariabella something similar, that she was too small to partake in her “playing house” game. What I found even more telling was how she said it and that she began to laugh at my daughter, encouraging the other little boy to do the same.
I didn’t immediately jump in to “save” my daughter and I certainly didn’t feel the need to get into an argument with a first grader. I watched to see how my daughter would respond to a mean kid. She seemed to have a look of analysis on her face, as if she was studying them rather than being negatively affected by their snootiness. My daughter does seem to know the difference. When my husband and I are correcting her, we talk to her in a calm and even-toned voice when instructing her that she can’t do something.
No matter how sweet we say it, she knows when she’s being disciplined and she begins to cry. So, the fact that my sweet, smiley, and happy little daughter didn’t let bigger kids ruin her day tells me a lot about the kind of daughter I’m raising. While most people might be skeptical and not think twice about situations and interactions their kid has with others, if you are absent, not really around, have a nanny or grandparent/relative watching your kid, and not hands on with your child, you miss the opportunity to see little signs and red flags.
Kids act out because something is going on at home or they are allowed to mimic unhealthy behaviors. I’m convinced a lot of this stems from lack of quality time with busy parents. When I worked with the kids in the group home, I saw a direct correlation of acting out with coming from a less supportive family. Most of these kids with behavioral problems didn’t have active participating parents or guardian.
Affluence or lack thereof also seems to make little difference. For example, the little girl who was mean to my daughter was bilingual and spoke what I believe was German. It appeared by the way she and her grandmother was dressed that they also came from money. While, this can be a general stereotype on my part it’s simply the first impression I got. I also had a run in with another little girl who tried to force Ariabella off the jungle gym. She spoke Spanish and wore what appeared to be hand-me-down clothes and shoes.
Meanness knows no socio-economic boundaries. Regardless of where you come from and how much money you have in the bank, you can be raising a mean kid and not even know it. A child’s personality forms within the first three years. So far, I’ve let Ariabella observe and listen to how kids talk to her. I’ve also observed her race against kids much bigger and too afraid to go down the slide. She zooms past them, looks at them in the face as if to say, “I got this” and confidently slides down.
She’s also used her head to try to prompt a slow crawler to hurry along. My husband and I immediately tell her to wait her turn when we see that she’s being a bit impatient. We talk to her a lot and are both hands on with her as well as willing to give her space to explore the world. We don’t have a nanny or a baby sitter, yet anyway. We share in duties, read, play, talk, go to the park every day and are very consistent with her. We think her sweet disposition and very happy, constantly laughing, positive sunshine type of personality hopefully reflects that we’re doing all right as first-time parents.
When we run into badly behaving kids, I blame the parents and their inability to communicate and to teach their child proper behavior. Kids take a lot of hands on effort on the part of both parents. Instead, there are far too many absent, busy, lazy parents who rely on nannies and baby sitters or even relatives are raising someone else’s child. Children might become enabled, too spoiled, and undisciplined, which negatively affects them later in life. You might think that it’s no big deal if your toddler or kindergartener is displaying negative behavior.
If you have a mean kid, not catching and correcting mean kid behavior can give rise to a bully. I have a real problem with absent-minded parents who claim, “I had no idea my child could do this or that….” Parents should know what their kids are up to, how they are treating other kids, and the kind of man/woman they are raising.