February 26, 2010

When Kids Are Monsters

Filed under: Kids and Life — jenny @ 12:01 pm

Oh, stop it, everyone who’s saying, Kids aren’t monsters! How can you talk about those sweet wittle wee ums that way?

This might be a surprising statement coming from me, who recently waxed rhapsodic on mommy ‘hood and the legendary lore of childhood. But what I was hoping to do with those thoughts is encourage a focus on the good parts, not suggest the bad never happen.

There are days–at least parts of them–when my own two wovely wittle wee ums behave like monsters. My six year old gets giddy, which is all well and good until you need to get her to the bus and she is whooping and hollering with glee that is an exact mirror–in OPPOSITE LAND, that is–of the expression on my face. And sometimes my almost four year old gets hungry ONE HUNDRED times a day, acting every single one of those times as if he is starving, even though I just served him fruit/nuts/cheese/mini crackers five seconds ago.

These behaviors really aren’t that bad as things go, I guess. Maybe only bordering on monstrous–depending on how much writing I’m trying to get done between whoops and snacks.

But we all know a kid or two who really is a monster. A brat. An ill behaved wretch.

Have there always been kids like that? Even when children were supposed to be seen and not heard? Was seen and not heard meant to keep the monstrous in check–with a strap for when the whooping got too loud NOT to be heard?

I would love to read a historical account of brattiness. But till I find one, here’s a piece that discusses what to do when a monstrous child shows up at your house for a play date. And here’s another that lays it on the line about a certain privileged sector which is perhaps uniquely producing monsters.

There’s even a paragraph about a new subset of bullies that targets kids who don’t wear Dolce & Gabbana.

See? Kids are monsters.

Maybe we all are at heart till society steps in to channel us and smooth our rough edges.

The problem today is a false self esteem movement has told us that those same wittle wee ums will develop lifelong self esteem issues if we criticize them. You can’t say, Don’t do that, you have to say, Please do x.

I’m gonna let out a good old-fashioned fooey. If I see my kid doing something mean, or dangerous, or just hopelessly spoiled, s/he needs to know how I feel about that.  That’s not going to cause bad self esteem. The opposite: good self esteem arises from knowing deeply who you are.

It’s up to us parents to curb monstrous tendencies with discipline and, perhaps most importantly, recognition.

When they act monstrously, admit it, then stop them.

And I promise. One day they’ll all be big non-monsters with good self esteem.


  1. Hi Jenny, I just wanted to say, your comments on the abna thread were so gracious, and I really appreciated them. Congrats on your agented ms! I’ll keep my fingers crossed, and hope your new writing is going just as well.

    As far as kids, you’re right. Just like adults, kids are not perfect angels, and need to be trained with love and the word “no” used compassionately yet firmly. Being a good role model as a parent also is critical. Sometimes the kids act out because they crave attention, and maybe the best way to help sometimes is to take them for a long walk and time to chat about what they’re feeling and doing.

    Great post!

    Comment by Amy Deardon — February 26, 2010 @ 4:17 pm

  2. That is a great point, Amy. Sometimes it does seem like this excessive protection of kids and their feelings replaces good old-fashioned focus on them. Not all the time–that would be as likely to produce monsters as anything else. But a walk when they know we care enough to listen and hear is sometimes just the ticket instead of a rushed play date or trip to some lesson or scrambling to fit in the parenting among twelve other things. It’s hard, of course. Life interferes. But we try.

    Anyway thanks for visiting! And do I understand that you got good news last night? That is really wonderful. Please keep me posted, stop in here again, or otherwise let me know!

    Comment by jenny — February 26, 2010 @ 4:29 pm

  3. There are kids out there WHO DON’T WEAR DOLCE AND GABBANA? Are you kidding? How do they survive? Call DCFS on those people. How are they not in jail, or dying from shame? I mean, GOSH.

    Especially considering my kids don’t wear anything over $10!


    Comment by SapphireSavvy — February 26, 2010 @ 5:04 pm

  4. I mean, not *my* kids, of course, Sapphire! I would never dress them in less than Louis Vuitton (sp, and is that only luggage?) I know, without Gap (and sales at that) my daughter would’ve gone naked till the handmedowns kicked in.

    Comment by jenny — February 26, 2010 @ 5:19 pm

  5. I spent enough time in elementary school classrooms to see there are really very indulged, spoiled, and yes, some monsterous kids out there. And they turn into monsterous teenagers. Unfortunately.

    Comment by Judy — February 26, 2010 @ 6:39 pm

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