What Does a Well-Behaved Child Look Like?

What Does a Well-Behaved Child Look Like?

The other day, we stopped at a coffee shop before setting out for the day. The boys happened to be standing still and quietly waiting for our drinks to arrive (a rare occurrence). A woman with her two children (a couple years older than the boys) came over to us and said, “Your boys are so well-behaved, mine are never this good when we go out.”

The old me would have probably just politely thanked her and moved on, but I couldn’t do that this time.

I answered her, “My kids just happen to be quiet right now. Most of the time they are moving and asking questions- and just being curious. I think that is healthy.” She seemed genuinely surprised and replied, “I never looked at it that way. I’ve always felt guilty if they weren’t being quiet and patient when we go out.”

 A 4-year-old isn’t an adult

Society tells us that well-behaved means behaving like a full-grown adult. We have set this into our minds and we have books teaching us how to “train” our babies. Compliments are given when our children are seen but not heard (are we living in 1912 or 2012? Sometimes it is hard to tell the difference).

Patience comes with age, but their little minds can learn at such a rapid rate that they get bored without stimuli. That is also why technology can overstimulate their brains. They need to be able to be active and learn what is going on in their surroundings.

Our children shouldn’t act like adults, that is not normal behavior for a 3,4,5,6…etc year old. We need to start teaching people what a healthy well-behaved child looks like in order to correct this potentially harmful information. We apologize for our children’s behavior all the time. We need to stop doing that, especially in front of them. I remember I apologized for Aram’s curiosity when he was about one year old and toddling over to a man eating at an outdoor cafe near us. I scooped Aram up and said “I’m so sorry…” The man stopped me, “NEVER apologize when your child acts like a child, view all chaotic aspects as a part of the joy and a blessing, because they are.” I’ll never forget that. I, obviously,  would not let Aram continue going over there to disrupt this man’s meal, but we don’t need to apologize in these situations in front of our children – an “excuse me” would have been appropriate. Gentle direction and positive encouragement can go farther in this situation than getting embarrassed and indicating to children that they should be ashamed of their curiosity.

 a 4-year-old isn’t a 2-year-old

So your child doesn’t act like a thirty-year-old at three? Good! When your child really is thirty, they will have a greater chance of being a well-developed individual because you allowed him/her to act like a three-year-old and not skip directly into adult behavior. Obviously, gentle direction is a good and necessary part of parenting. There is a reason that the boys are more likely at 4 and 5 to wait patiently at the coffee shop than they were at 2 and 3. They have been guided and encouraged to behave as 4-year-olds, which looks differently than behaving like a 2-year-old. But let’s just remember…so much could be missed if children cannot experience their true biological age.


Tags assigned to this article:
behaviorchild

Related Articles

WWII Veteran Found This Toddler in His Yard…The Story That Follows is Tearfully Bittersweet

89-year-old Erling Kindem found 3-year-old Emmett Rychner in his yard looking for tomatoes. Through that initial exchange, the two became

Confession Friday

“I don’t like it when things I like become popular.“ That’s weird, right? I guess that is why it is

Number Two on our Pre-Thirty Bucket List: Visit Club 33

NUMBER 2 on my Pre-30 Bucket List: VISIT CLUB 33   What is Club 33, you ask? It is a private

49 comments

Write a comment
  1. Megan 2 December, 2012, 07:52

    Going anywhere with my son is an experience. I know he will grill the cashier and introduce me after he asks their name, and will start conversations with anyone who looks his way. Im shy by nature so i refuse to slow it down.

    Reply this comment
    • Jamie Lynne Author 2 December, 2012, 15:58

      He sounds awesome! I want to meet him! :-)

      Reply this comment
    • Jessica 14 January, 2013, 09:30

      Megan,
      My oldest is/was the same way. I love it! He isn’t shy like his mama and I’m thankful.

      Reply this comment
    • Ja Wood 11 February, 2013, 04:32

      Oh wonderful I remember my guys being like that people were so impressed by them and were very open with them.

      Reply this comment
  2. Brandy 2 December, 2012, 12:07

    I am so happy that I found your blog- you are constantly giving me such great perspectives on my own parenting!

    I could not agree with you more! As parents it is so difficult to avoid the temptation to get your children to act in a way that is most convenient for the adults around them as opposed to what is the healthiest situation for them. First, I think as parents we have to remember what is actually developmentally appropriate for our child. As much as I would love for my kids to walk nicely by me as I shop for an hour, I also have to realize that it isn’t reasonable to expect a 2 year old to be up to that activity. Often, when my kids’ behavior is frustrating me, I try to take a step back and look at it from their perspective- is their behavior truly something that requires modification, or am I expecting behavior that isn’t realistic for a child that age? Is there an outside influence causing them to behave that way (a missed nap, need of a snack, etc) I think so much of it also comes down to us moms’ need to turn mothering into a competition. I have a friend who is constantly bragging about her children who don’t ever run off in the store, sit nicely through meals at the restaurant, yada yada. I used to let myself think “Well, what am I doing wrong?” Then a good friend of mine who has similar parenting philosophies and I were having a discussion about it and we both realized that I am not so sure I want my children acting like that. I want them to be curious about the person sitting behind them and want to give them a smile just to see one in return. I want them to tell me that they won’t eat a certain food on their plate because that tells me that I am challenging them to try new things by having things on their plates that they aren’t used to. I really don’t want them to run off in the store because it scares me, but I do like that they have enough trust in me that I will chase them and care that they left that they will challenge that. I definitely need to take a page from your book and remember that the next time somebody “compliments” my children’s behavior to make sure they know that while the occasional chilled behavior from them is a nice break, I really don’t mind their “normal” ways! :)

    Reply this comment
  3. Mona 2 December, 2012, 12:14

    THANK YOU! I have a VERY active 4 year old he is extremely curious, never sits still, and LOVES to get into everything! I am apologizing to people ALL the time when I know in my heart he is a good boy, just very active and perceptive and I love that about him! Thank you for posting this!

    Reply this comment
    • Jamie Lynne Author 2 December, 2012, 16:03

      There is no need to apologize for curious behavior! I have to sometimes remind myself of that, too. We should encourage them and always try to give them to best environment to be able to learn from their curiousity. There is a reason children are naturally curious! We just aren’t the most well-developed in the West for supporting that in public places (aside from parks). It takes time, but there are places (even great restaurants not specifically geared towards children) that are wonderful places to frequent.

      In LA we try to find outdoor (sometimes up in the hills) rustic places where the kids can explore in the woodsy area while we eat and watch them. It just takes some critical thinking, but there is always a way to make it work.

      Reply this comment
  4. Wendy 2 December, 2012, 12:33

    I guess your definition of well behaved is completely different from mine. Although I don’t want my children to act like adults, they have been taught appropriate behavior, especially for going out in public. They know the difference between an outdoors voice and an indoors voice. They have been taught to not interrupt adults when they are talking. They know to stay within a reasonable distance of me in a store, to not pick up things off the shelves if we aren’t considering buying them, to wait their turn and many other basic manners that I frequently do not see exhibited by other children. I don’t begrudge the children for being children, but I do hold the parents responsible for not correcting the bad behavior when they see it and for not teaching their children good manners.

    Reply this comment
    • Jamie Lynne Author 2 December, 2012, 15:50

      Wendy, unfortunately I don’t think you understood my post because I agree with most of what you wrote. We are here to guide our children into adulthood, not to train them as children to act like adults. That was my point. There is such a thing has manners, but the stress put on parents (especially by other mothers) judging each other based off of the behavior of their children is harmful to everyone.

      We teach, we guide, we help them grow into respectful and wonderful adults.

      Reply this comment
      • Lucky 11 February, 2013, 01:11

        Sorry, but I have to agree with Wendy. Too many parents are raising kids with poor manners and poor social skills. The coffee shop, the shopping mall, and the local sushi resturant are not places for little children. Kids need exercise and room to explore. Please no more excuses for the parents who allow their kids to be loud, disruptive or rude.

        Reply this comment
        • Jamie Lynne Author 11 February, 2013, 08:18

          (-Kendall) I’m really sorry but are you actually telling me you never bring kids to a coffee shop or shopping mall?

          Reply this comment
          • Amy Jane 12 February, 2013, 12:20

            I agree for the most part with your article and I like Wendy’s comment, and I kind of understand the frustration of Luckys comment. I don’t expect my children to act like an adult robe able to handle the stimulation an adult can, that is why I try to limit their outings on any given day to maybe one trip somewhere. Anymore than that is stressful for us. My belief is that the child who is bouncing off the walls at the coffee shop is not doing so because they are bored, but because they are overstimulated and being asked to conform to an adult schedule of outings that is not respectful of their need for peace and free play. …but the judgement is definitely not helpful. Although its hard to stop our brains sometimes! Sometimes I feel so badly for kids who’s parents seem to set no limits. They just seem to be floundering in the lack of consistency.

    • Michael 3 December, 2012, 10:29

      I’m with you, Jamie. The author seems to characterize kid behavior as either appropriately childlike or bent into submission by society’s pliers. I’d argue for an attitude toward the behavior of children that both honors their spunk, curiosity, and beauty, AND recognizes the important work of teaching children a baseline level of civility as they grow. What constitutes civility varies widely within our culture and around the world. Almost without exception, cultures as small as families and as large as nations do have expectations of civility. Part of growing up is recognizing this, and being your own beautiful unique self in a way that honors the sensibilities of the culture you’re in, whether it’s dinner at a friend’s house, visiting a restaurant, or being introduced to the Queen. A child who pretty much gets the hang of the expectations his/her society has for public behavior has a passport to adaptability in new situations as they grow, recognizing that every culture they step into will have some baseline expectations for how to carry yourself publicly. I’ve had my own bones to pick with authority, and recognize the temptation to demonize “society’s” “teachings.” And I’ve come to see how this attitude often results in throwing out too much of the baby with the bathwater. Honor the kids, and teach them manners.

      Reply this comment
      • Jamie Lynne Author 4 December, 2012, 08:38

        Exactly Michael. I was sitting there thinking, “When did I say don’t discipline your child or avoid teaching them respect of others…?” Oh wait, I didn’t! People are assuming to allow your children to act like children means they will be little undisciplined tyrants- and I think that kind of mentality is the root of the problem I was attempting to explain in this post.

        I couldn’t agree more. We need to honor our children as children and human beings. We guide them into adulthood teaching them empathy, compassion, and (of course) manners all while respecting their age and how their mind works at each stage of development. There is a reason children act like children. We need to stop trying to hinder who they are as they are growing.

        Reply this comment
  5. becky 2 December, 2012, 12:47

    True. But we all know that the kids who are asking questions and being curious 3 and 4 year olds are not the ones we label as “ill-behaved.” It’s the ones whose parents check out in public, so they are running/climbing/crawling all over the place, bothering other people, getting into things, yelling/screaming, etc.

    It’s not about being seen and not heard. Most people understand that young children can’t stand still and get curious/bored. But that doesn’t mean you can’t continually direct them to TRY and stand still, to RESPECT the people around them, and to speak politely and quietly.

    It’s called parenting.

    Reply this comment
    • Jamie Lynne Author 2 December, 2012, 15:57

      You may not label bad behavior as a child acting like a child (not acting out, just acting normal), but many people do. There is a way to teach manners without forcing children into situations where the only appropriate behavior is to be quiet and still. Teaching manners does not mean they should act like adults. For example, the coffee shop scenario. I would never keep reminding my children to stand still and be silent waiting for our order. I would encourage them to look at the packaging of the products, look at the tree decorated for Christmas and ornaments on it, and also help explain how the expresso machine works (those are the kind of questions they ask)….well-behaved child behavior does not mean swinging from the chandelier behavior. To me, allowing my children to act like children means giving them every opportunity to learn something. The more we give opportunities to engage and teach, the less likely the “acting out” behavior happens. Boredom, I’ve noticed, causes a lot of the “acting out” behavior- allowing them to act their age does the opposite.

      Right, we need to be present as parents. My friend was telling me about when she was a waitress and the parents weren’t watching their child and the wait staff ending up caring for this child who kept wandering away throughout the meal. We are the responsible ones who need to act like adults, not our kids.

      We also should take our children to places that aren’t going to be an issue for them to be themselves. It is hard sometimes because the way our communities are set up in the West are not always child-friendly. Sometimes we just want to go out to eat and have a break, but a 5 star restaurant with a curious 18 month old may not be a pleasant experience of anyone. Also, it is not realistic to expect a two-year-old to sit down for an hour quietly for a meal…not even with some crayons…All kids are different and maybe it is possible with some children’s personalities, but we need to parent accordingly.

      Also, I’ve noticed people have been using iPhones and iPads (I’m even guilty of this one) if we are in a spot where they “need” to be quiet. Jay Gordon and I are on the same page with this one- airplanes it makes sense, but it seems like the go-to item these days for when we want to keep our kids quiet. I’m not sure if that is such a good idea.

      Reply this comment
  6. This person attempted to leave a fake name. They must not know the rules around here. If you leave a fake name we make one up for you. Since he/she clearly does not regularly read this blog we will give them a break this time 2 December, 2012, 16:35

    Someone I know shared this on facebook so I saw it. Her kids are terrible. She brought them into the office, and (while people are working) they ran up and down the aisles and screamed. She must think this “curiosity” that you speak of gives them permission to act that way. She never told them no and never asked them to stop doing it. There is a difference in letting kids be curious and discipline. I have three kids, and they are regularly told that they are well-behaved. However, they do ask plenty of questions, which we allow. They have learned, though, that there are sometimes you simply must obey what we ask.

    Reply this comment
    • Jamie Lynne Author 2 December, 2012, 16:54

      If I wasn’t told what the original “name” left for this comment was and the email address attached I wouldn’t think this person was trying to be judgmental or critical.

      Clearly you don’t understand the point of this post, and the horrible judgment about another mother and her children is what I find appalling. I probably don’t even know the mother you are speaking of, but since you are “facebook friends” with her, you clearly do. It is sad you feel so strongly from one incident that you are now negatively judging her and putting value on who she is as a mother, when she has had no negative impact on how you are raising your own children.

      Gentle discipline (that does not been being a push-over by-the-way) and teaching your children manners compliments allowing them to behave as children. We are leading them into adulthood and teaching them respect because WE ARE THE PARENTS. That does not mean sitting back while our children to turn into the characters from Lord of the Flies. It means encouraging them to act like children and engaging them- by being present and having realistic expectations for their ages.

      Reply this comment
  7. Adrienne 2 December, 2012, 17:45

    YES! There is a difference between misbehaving and curiosity. Unfortunately for everyone that line lies in a different place. There is a time and a place for everything but only eaach parent knows which time and place is for their kid. Kudos on another great post!

    Reply this comment
  8. Anna Bazhaw-Hyscher 2 December, 2012, 18:31

    So here’s what I want to know: what do people think about other adults asking their children to do something in regards to behavior? If , for example, you have two small children and are overwhelmed, or distracted (and eg the child is leaping off furniture), is it appropriate for a complete stranger to say to your child, ‘Shh, let’s sit here and practice being still until Mom is done talking to your sibling’? Or is that only ok in a dangerous situation?

    Reply this comment
    • Jamie Lynne Author 2 December, 2012, 18:41

      Good question. I want to hear what other people have to say. I think it depends on who it is. A complete stranger should probably stay out of it. What we learned adopting Samuel is that it was extremely important to our attachment and bonding in the family to make sure we were the only ones giving direction or discipline. A stranger has no idea if a child has just come into the family, plus he/she is a stranger, so that could potentially have a negative impact on the family.

      On the same note I am all about community. If a kind stranger wanted to help engage the kids so they stop doing something, like jump on furniture, until mom gets her bearings that is what I consider a healthy community interaction. Many close-knit communities, like in various parts of Africa (and other developing areas of the world) have this “it takes a village” mentality. It has been a joy to experience some of these areas and see what a healthy thriving community looks like. With parenting in that way they seem to have it right.

      I think anything goes in a dangerous situation. We need to work as a community to make kids safe.

      Reply this comment
      • Ariadne - Positive Parenting Connection 31 December, 2012, 01:06

        1st – this is a lovely post Jamie! Second, about the mom being busy/stressed and someone stepping in – I second that it depends on the situation and HOW it’s done. If a stranger just butt’s in and says “hey be quiet” that’s just rude. On the other hand, if a person comes up and says – “do you mind if I show this book/pamphlet/toy to your child so you can finish filling out that form?” I think the mom should smile and decide what she is comfortable with but certainly it’s a nice gesture. In my community it’s fairly common that mothers help mothers all the time. I noticed Jamie, you talk about the iphone/ipad being used, it’s unfortunate I find, but I know many parents are doing it out of sheer fear that someone will complain that their kid is being “loud, bothersome” or whatever….sigh! I carry around a “busy bag” in my purse with cards, stickers, markers and also talk about that in parenting classes – it’s a life saver when errands take way longer than expected :) sharing this post on our community facebook page!!

        Reply this comment
    • Angela 17 September, 2013, 00:20

      If I step in when a child is getting frustrated/bored/whatever, it’s usually with a question directed at the child. ‘My favorite color is blue, what’s yours?’ ‘Wow, did you see that cool car drive by?’ It distracts them just long enough to forget about the fit that was about to happen and usually gives the parent a chance to finish whatever they were doing.

      Reply this comment
  9. Kayla Dar 2 December, 2012, 19:02

    Wow, I am flabbergasted at the responses to this post. Let me break it down for you all who don’t understand. All that Jamie is trying to convey is don’t put unrealistic behaviors on children. Let them grow & learn accordingly. If your child has a “meltdown” which being a mother of a child that has over sensitive hearing, know that it happens & do the best you can to embrace them & guide them without belittling them into a positive way to communicate their needs. No where in her message does she state to avoid teaching your children common courtesy, respect for others or dis regard discipline all together. But hey if your kid knows when to hush up, kudos to you.

    Reply this comment
  10. Kayla Dar 2 December, 2012, 19:07

    I would also like to ask you a question anonymous, do you feel as though your child is privilege for your children to ask you questions in public? I truly feel it’s our duty to answer any questions any place. I would not want a stranger dictating my child’s growth because I failed to acknowledge their interest in the world around them.

    Reply this comment
  11. Mona 3 December, 2012, 00:38

    Another thing to consider is that every child is different! You can’t teach a quiet introvert child the same discipline as an extremely spirited child. Some children just have more natural energy and is harder for them to sit still while others sit still naturally. So you can’t judge a persons parenting skill by their child acting up in public because they might just be having a meltdown or something is going on that strangers are not aware of and it does not mean a child is “acting up” or “mis-behaved”! As for telling someone else’s kids? There is a thin line with that. I say no way to a stranger, but if an older child is being hurtful to your children and their parent is turning a blind eye to it, I wouldn’t let it slide either.

    Reply this comment
    • Nele 13 January, 2013, 21:47

      Very true! My eldest is a very very calm child. My youngest is more active but tends to be calm when there is a lot to see and hear. We can go to restaurants (not posh ones, obviously) without any problems. In stores though, I put my 20-month-old on my back. That way shopping is stress-free, and even then he once managed to ‘steal’ something from a toystore so I had to run back.

      Reply this comment
  12. Zoe 3 December, 2012, 20:25

    Interesting timing for me to read this post since we finally took the girls to church on Sunday for the first time and had various people tell us how “well-behaved” they were. The comments kind of bothered me because I knew that the girls were only quiet and compliant because that happens to be the way they act when they are in a new environment with new people. Once they get comfortable, they get lively and boisterous and sometimes hard to control.

    I’m a big one for teaching manners and not letting children infringe too much on others in public, but it was clear to me that what you were doing here was making a distinction between expecting children to act like adults and allowing them to be curious and act like children.

    Reply this comment
  13. Bugs 13 January, 2013, 21:34

    Beautiful and wonderful. I just got home from lunch with a rampaging toddler and understanding friends and fellow diners, when I saw a link to this. Do you mind if I link to this from my blog?

    Reply this comment
  14. Jessie 14 January, 2013, 21:18

    this is so true. When i was young my parents always let us be kids. In the store, playing outside and even getting really muddy after a nice long rain storm. Its just part of growing up. If you sit your children in front of a tv or video games all day long they turn into zombies. Getting them outside and let them be who they are. Children not adults. Love this story.

    Reply this comment
  15. Laura 14 January, 2013, 23:37

    Thank you. A brilliant post. As parents we are here to model acceptable behaviour, guide our children and teach them, not enforce a way of acting. What worries me is the number of adults who think it is acceptable to do the very things they think children should stop doing – interrupting, pushing into queues, being rude to shop staff, being disrespectful, etc.

    Reply this comment
  16. Kristina 15 January, 2013, 06:05

    Cheers to you and the man at the outdoor cafe! Nicely written.

    Reply this comment
  17. Jessica 15 January, 2013, 07:06

    Omg, this article came at a perfect time. The other day at Buffalo Wild Wings a childless couple told me and Rick, “looks like you have a handful” in regards to hannah. Second time somebody has said this about her.

    The funny thing is….I thought our meal went awesome and we had a great time as a family. The music was pumping because we were sitting in the bar area. Hannah wanted to dance and keep dancing. I let her. She was smiling the whole time, not invading anyone else’s space, and was just enjoying being happy in her own world.

    She kept asking me to dance with her. Of course, I kept saying no. My excuse being that there wasn’t a dance floor. The truth? I was concerned about what the other diners would think. After a few minutes of watching her have so much fun, I said “screw it” to myself. I decided that I could go against the norm of what society thinks we should be doing in that restaurant and I scooped her up and started dancing with her by our table. I loved it and I know she loved it too.

    If that is what a “handful” is…I’ll take it. Kids should be kids. Their innocent curiosity and zest for life can teach us “well mannered” adults a few things too.

    Reply this comment
  18. Alyssa 15 January, 2013, 07:27

    I’m fairly certain this won’t be well-received, but here are my two cents:

    Yes and no…children should be children (hate when I see moms at work dragging
    their toddlers at a pace much faster than the kids can developmentally handle)
    and children are ‘good’ by nature (also hate when moms refer to their kids as
    ‘so bad’ for doing typical kid stuff). At the same time, I think it is
    perfectly appropriate to apologize to an adult when the toddler repeatedly moves
    to another restaurant table. (When i’m not at Chuck E. Cheese, I’m not always
    the customer in the article who sees all chaotic aspects as a joy.) I do think
    we are a generation of parents who let our kids run the show. There’s some life
    skill learned in developing patience, not interrupting adults, and keeping
    things relatively quiet depending on the setting. That’s not to say we shouldn’t
    bring activities and engage kids in order to help, or we should expect children
    to shop quietly for an hour. Let’s not expect children to act 30 at age 3, but
    also keep the balance in perspective: let kids be kids, and meet society’s
    expectations for a tantrum-free shopping or dining experience too.

    Reply this comment
  19. Marissa 15 January, 2013, 09:30

    I completely love this blog. I am a mother of two wonderfully busy children. My son has ALWAYS been the social butterfly, he will talk to anyone he can get to talk to him. My daughter is social but very much on her own accord, but HIGHLY independent. Both of my children have always been super curious about anything and everything. My husband and I have always let our kids be themselves, within limits. They are not allowed to take off on us, or yell if we are inside, at restaurants we occasionally have those moments when my 3 year old decides she’s going to peek and the people behind us. We just ask her to sit on her bottom as we do not stand on furniture. We have always gotten compliments on how well behaved and mannered our kids are as they know they must say Please and Thank you. At dinners we try and keep the kids entertained by coloring with them on the pages provided or doing tic tack toe. Mind you we always go to kid friendly restaurants as I have the mind myself to realize that kids will be kids and cannot sit quietly to being a 5 start steak house. My son is a very rough and tumble football player and def is a boy, but we have also raised him to be compassionate and loving and respectful. My daughter is being raised the exact same way. There have been times the my kids act out in stores and I wanted to apologize to the people around me for out MY embarrassment, but I slowly came to realize that sometimes there is nothing I can do to stop the crying fit. There have been days that all I felt like doing was crying and nothing was going to stop it, and I would have no clue as to why. So why would my children be any different? There are moods and days that we as adults cannot explain why we are feeling the way we are feeling so how can we expect our children to cognitively explain this to us as well. My husband and I are firm believers in letting our kids be themselves how ever frustratingly cute it may be.

    Reply this comment
  20. Shannon 15 January, 2013, 20:59

    This is a fabulous short commentary on kids being kids. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply this comment
  21. laurie 21 January, 2013, 10:23

    I work in a retail store and one day I had a customer in the store with her 2-year old little girl The mom was looking at the loose bulbs (flower). She was picking them up and going through the varieties. While whe was doing that, her child started to do the same thing. The mother saw that the child was picking up the bulbs too and told her that she should not touch them. Of course the child did not listen. The mother then told the little girl that if she did not listen to her that she was going to slap her hand! Of course the sweet little think comtinued to pick up the bulbs and the mother slapped the poor childs hand which caused her to start to scream and cry. The mother was then angry at the child that she did not listen. I was completely shocked and furious at this mother for her behaviour. I wish there was a polite way to say to the mother that the little girl was not misbehaving, but trying to be just like Mommy and look at the flower bulbs! I am not saying that I always did everything perfectly with my kids, because no one is perfect, but I was able to stand outside of the situation and see what the mother could not see at the time. This scenario is one that sticks in my mind the most when I think about how mothers (and fathers) deal with their children in public situations.

    Reply this comment
  22. Maureen 11 February, 2013, 08:12

    When I see an adult in a lineup and they are behaving like a three year old that is when I get frustrated. My children were not aways quiet and well behaved but their age gives them some immunity, when a 30 year old is harassing the girl at the till because his time is important and she needs to hurry up I see red. As that poor girl at one time she is doing the best she can and your comments can not make her work any faster and believe she wants YOU gone more then you want to be gone. Let kids be kids so that as adults they can act as adults.

    Reply this comment
  23. Kelly Pfeiffer 11 February, 2013, 08:49

    A lovely post. I know my comments are late, but a friend just shared this on fb. I shared your post on my Think It Through Parenting facebook page. The post illustrates a great example of how we moms can support each other.

    Reply this comment
  24. np 12 February, 2013, 00:52

    Beautiful. Thanks for posting Jamie Lynn! It’s always good to be reminded.

    Reply this comment
  25. Jasmine 21 February, 2013, 14:08

    Thank you so much for this article. Encouraging and positive. I think you addressed the importance of guiding and teaching and you are emphasizing the importance of doing this in a Realistic, age appropriate, and nourishing environment. Those who have taken offense, notice if your worlds are counter intuitive to creating this nourishing context for children to learn and grow. It does take a village! Let’s support each other as patents please!!

    Reply this comment
  26. Wendy @ ABCs and Garden Peas 28 May, 2013, 16:20

    I’m guilty of getting frustrated with my son. I’ll need to keep this post in mind. I mean, I KNOW it, but I don’t always remember it when he’s pushing my buttons so intentionally. It’s up to me to figure out why he’s acting the way he is rather than getting mad or yelling, and on the occasion that I do lose my patience I usually realize it has nothing to do with him. In fact, I can trace almost all of his behavior back to mine in one way or another.

    I will admit that I’m at my wit’s end with some of his behavior, but other stuff just makes me laugh. (Like when he told Santa that pee comes out of his penis. Or when he tells his life story and mine to everyone he happens to meet.)

    Reply this comment
  27. kris 17 September, 2013, 05:07

    Wonderful post! I think sometimes we as parents forget what normal age appropriate behavior looks like, especially when we are faced with it every day. I have 4 children and a husband who travels right now for work. This means that my kids go everywhere with me. Most days it goes smoothly (they get so excited about the grocery store lol), but other days I’m sure we’re the poster for not having children…the tired cranky mama with the 2 squabbling toddler boys in the buggy, baby strapped to her chest in a carrier, and the 7 year old grumpily trailing behind. And if I had to admit it, those days are usually the result of expecting too much out of the kids, mama being overtired/overwhelmed that day, and probably trying to cram just a bit too much into the afternoon.
    One afternoon I was at BJ’s (wholesale bulk store) and just having one of those such days. The kids weren’t being bad, but they weren’t being seen but not heard either. We had made a couple stops prior and we were all tired and hungry. We were trailing up and down the aisles with the baby snuggled into her wrap and the boys poking and picking at each other in the buggy (like any normal overtired and bored 2 and 3yo little boys would be). My patience was wearing thin as was their ability to sit, and I was quietly grouchy at them for not just sitting quietly…and if I dare admit probably pouting a bit about having to run errands by myself anyways. Needless to say, I did not consider them to be having “good” behavior right then (though nor did I really). An older gentleman started down the aisle toward us and I inwardly cringed, waiting for the look that us mama’s who dare to have more than the requisite 2 children are all too familiar with. He stopped and said hi to my boys, and then looked at me and said “what a beautiful family you have, what a blessing!” . What a gift he gave this mama that day! It was like a light clicked on (not that I generally don’t feel blessed by my children, but that particular day was far more grumpy than blessed) and we continued our trip with a much different mood.
    I think all too often we are attempting to parent in a way that speaks to the people around us instead of in the way our children need. If we could stop worrying about what other people think, things would go much smoother and our expectations of our children’s behavior would be more on par with what they need.

    Reply this comment
  28. RADMom9 17 September, 2013, 11:31

    I think I have the reverse of this problem. My son 9 was recently diagnosed RAD and ADHD after years of us struggling to help him and ourselves. You see in public he is polite, articulate, with charming manners and fine looks. Most people seeing him in public assume he is a perfectly healthy “normal” child. He often gets extras because of this, free cookies, candy, pop, etc. They give him compliments and me as well. But because of the masterful facade he displays most people cannot understand that he isn’t like this all the time. That what they are seeing is a lie. And that when they give him things they are feeding into his sickness.

    Sometimes when I try to explain I get brushed off with comments like “Oh, well he sounds just like any other kid.” Or other people telling me to “Relax mom you’re so lucky you got a great kid. He’s so intelligent/smart/well-mannered.”

    It is an overwhelming and very isolating feeling to be talking to a person face to face and realize they aren’t hearing a word you say. Because in their head they have already assumed things based on what they see.

    I recently started a blog about this to try and help educate my family and friends and others about our struggles. And so that other parents dealing with similar issues won’t feel so alone.

    My wish is that when you see a kid/parent losing it in the store and compare them to the other kids and parents, especially those one’s who are behaving themselves, you stop and ask yourself “Do I REALLY know what is going on? ” Those well behaving kids/parents may go home and make life hell for those that love them. And that brat/bad parent in the store may just had the worst day and are overwhelmed.

    Reply this comment
  29. Toni Langdon 8 April, 2014, 12:12

    so true! Unrealistic expectations only leads to unhappy kids and parents!!!

    Reply this comment
  30. Elena at The art of making a baby 18 April, 2014, 17:14

    I love you! Why don’t more people understand that? Lack of knowledge? Societal pressure?
    This kind of stuff needs to be published in mainstream media. Then maybe things can be improved in the world of parenting.

    Reply this comment
  31. Grimm 26 April, 2014, 20:00

    We live in Korea. Our culture (American) and societal norms are challenged daily. One norm that has been challenged is that of children. In Western culture we typically start out believing our children should be controlled and over time we lessen that control as they become adults. In Korea, perhaps Asia but can only speak of the land we are immersed in, children as a collective society have no control and as they age are more and more controlled.

    As a society, no one bats an eye at children running up and down the aisles of a restaurant or visiting your table. But in contrast when they become college students they have strict curfews and parents have a say in what degree/career they pursue. Our friend couldn’t even attend her younger sister’s wedding because she herself wasn’t married first.

    To say the least we have been flabbergasted more than once at the lack of “respect and manners” from young children here, but the more we live here the more we embraced this collective difference.

    Personally, it has helped us strike this balance you so well articulated above.

    Reply this comment

Write a Comment

Your e-mail address will not be published.
Required fields are marked*