While waiting in a queue at the Cold Storage, I noticed a little six year old in front of me pushing away in the line, attempting to get to out of a mundane routine which is all part of coming out grocery shopping. His mother reprimanded him gently but firmly enough for him to understand what she meant. She said quite clearly:
"We are Singaporeans we don’t push whilst in a queue".
I was amused that she reminded him of his nationality as well! I guess mum was attempting to instill a ‘sense of pride’ in him. We do need mums who do this regularly whilst out on a social outing with their children, as social behaviours are taught and modelled when we take buses and trains, eat at restaurants, visit banks, use taxis, meet friends at their homes, visit public parks to name a few. How many parents take the opportunity to teach their kids social skills during these activities? Or do we just let our kids do what they please as it’s someone else business to clean up or pick up after them? How important are social skills anyway?
Last week we needed eggs and lunch items and took a stroll to the local grocery store. A family was in front of us with two boys aged around 5 and 6 approximately. They proceed to run into the store whilst mum and dad got the trolley and began their shopping. The kids disappeared amongst the many isles of food, running shouting and screaming a ‘hide-n-seek’ game. The parents did not take any notice nor were they concerned about their safety. Grocery stores can be a dangerous place for little kids let loose. For starters if they attempt to remove tins at random they can fall on them causing injury, there are poisons in the cleaning section, they can be removed by a stranger etc. The noise levels these kids created were horrid but the parents did not say anything. When they got to the check-out dad yelled at the top of his voice calling their names with no concern for the noise levels he was producing!
I wished the store manager had found the kids earlier and returned them to these parents! Perhaps there should be signage which says "Children are to be supervised at all times". A basic that some parents need reminding.
Yesterday whilst having dinner at Thai Express, a family of 3 kids, mum, dad and helper arrived. The two year child banged the table with a toy loudly all the time without any correction, the six year old yelled and demanded and the four year old fought with the brother. Again, little was said as I saw the poor helper struggling to contain the two year old as he proceed to splash food all over. He did not have a bib, nor did they bring a wipe cloth with them.
These observations are great missed opportunities for boundary setting with kids and social skills that are transferred from the home into a public place. To name a few:
"We don’t bang the table when we eat";
"When we eat out, we speak softly to each other because other people are dinning and chatting";
"Food is to be eaten and not thrown at each other";
"If you behave badly, we will have to leave this restaurant";
"You need to say thank you when the waiter brings your food to you";
Another time we have seen little kids run wild in a clothing stores, in and out of the racks of clothing with no supervision. The sales person cannot say anything as it is not her place to discipline children but I could clearly see that she was concerned that the kids may injure themselves and she was also concerned about the merchandise being damaged. I am quite sure that parents would not allow their kids do this to their own wardrobe at home or do they? Perhaps they treat other people’s property differently to their own?
It makes you wonder… Kids need to be taught how to behave in different situations. For example, we can run and yell in a park which is outdoors, but we cannot yell and scream in a grocery store. Clothing stores are goods that belong to the store and we cannot step on them or play games in a place like this. If we damage them, we can be asked to pay for it. When we eat out, we have to use our table manners (if they are taught in the home i.e. how to use a napkin, eat with your mouth closed and no yelling etc).
Meal times at home is the place to teach these skills which can be transferred to a restaurant or when they get invited to have dinner at a friends or family member’s home. "We are going to use our table manners every time we have a meal and mum and dad are going to see how you kids behave, if you do well, we can eat out at a restaurant".
Praise them when they say please and thank you. Teach them how to talk and the volume to use when they are at the dinner table. Teach them that putting their feet on chairs is inappropriate. How kids behave at home get quickly transferred to school or other places. Parents need to be mindful that kids don’t learn these skills automatically. They need to be taught, they need to be prompted and most of all, it’s the parents responsibility to supervise their kids when they are in these situations away from home. I am sure there are parents that do this well and there are kids that don’t do these things because they are observed and reminded when they forget their basics. There are parents that are mindful and take their kids out so that they can be schooled in art of socialising appropriately.
I just happen to observe these over the last few days and thought I would remind parents that it is an injustice to kids not to teach these skills at the earliest possible age! It is a direct reflection on parents when their kids behave inappropriately. After all, there is no such a thing as a bad behaved kid, just poor parenting!
Here’s to well socialised children who in turn become well-socialised adults!!
Feel free to drop into my website www.spirituscoaching.com for more parenting information.