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Spoiled Child Gone Wild: The Generation/Discipline Gap

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Just the other day on the news, I saw a report about how everyone is up in arms that our schools are failing our kids. Teacher shortages, lack of budgeting, and students not being prepared for higher education, let alone the world. But has it yet dawned on you that we are failing our teachers?

Things are way different now than when I was growing up. We were raised to have manners, be respectful, listen to our teachers and do the best work we could. We feared the paddle in school and actually had consequences when we got home. Our parents sat down with us and helped us with our homework. If there was a problem at school, they went in and talked to the teacher. But most of all, they raised us to adhere to the Golden Rule of conduct.

But today is quite different. As an early childhood teacher, I feel that we are expected to raise the children in our care. The way children are treated today is detrimental to them and to us in our profession. They are either being spoiled beyond belief or they get absolutely no attention at home. Therefore, they feel they are entitled to everything they want, or are constantly acting out to get the attention they crave. This and many other issues are starting younger and younger.

Not working on potty training.There is nothing more irritating than trying to potty train a child during the week and have it all fail over the weekend. It is a parent's job to work with the child at home and in partnership with the teacher during the week. Everyone should be on the same page about how training in each atmosphere (school and home) will be handled.

Excessive Spoiling. By doing this you are teaching your children that they are entitled to everything they want. Even at a young age, children in this atmosphere are whiney, mouthy and mean spirited. Due to the sphere of influence, they teach other children, by their actions, that it is okay to act this way. That it's also okay to act any way they want. By allowing your children to behave in this way, you are failing your child's educators.

Babying Them. I understand that you need to love on your child and do things for them sometimes. But when you baby them to the extent that they can't do anything for themselves it makes it hard on us in the classroom. I have seen two year olds that don't eat solid foods because they don't know how to chew. Their parents don't sit down and work with them. I have seen six and seven year olds who can't tie their shoes or button their pants.

Lack Of Interest In Their Learning. When I was growing up, my parents worked with me on the things I was having trouble with. I see five year olds everyday who don't know their shapes, numbers or colors. When we inform parents of these issues, we got many varied responses. From total disinterest to excuses to smirks and laughter. It's as if no one cares. It is not our sole responsibility to teach your child the things they need to know. You need to work with them (and us) too.

Lack Of Interest In Their Child Period. I see so many parents on cell phones at pick up time. Between snippets of conversation, they are telling their children to get ready to go. This is heartbreaking. You have been apart from them all day and can't spare five minutes to ask them how their day was? Although this is a small example, it explains why some of our children are stuck like glue to us all day. They don't get enough attention at home so they will do anything at school to get attention of any kind. Some kids are glued to us at the hip while others act out.

Not Allowing Us To Discipline. I have come across parents who don't want their children to be put in time out or disciplined. In their eyes their children are 'just babies' and don't know right from wrong. This is regardless that the children are ages two and five. This request makes handling a classroom of sixteen to twenty especially difficult. The child knows there are no consequences at home or school, so he will be defiant and get in trouble. This, in turn, encourages his classmates to act the same way. It also puts a strain on us as teachers. We spend more time managing those who act out than we do teaching and preparing children to be successful. We are supposed to be teaching them necessary skills. The fact that we have to constantly stop what we're doing is a disservice to the children, ourselves and to the future of our society.

All of these examples and scenarios lead to chaos and great frustration in the classroom. Don't misunderstand, we love your children and want to see them grow, be happy, and be successful. But we strongly need our parents to step up and support us and the purpose of our job. If we all work together, our classrooms will run smoother, our children will be happier and ready to learn, and we can all thrive.