Originally Published: June 28, 2017 6 a.m.
Dear Annie: Maybe I am overly sensitive, but there are so many commercials with children doing things that they really should not be doing, and it makes me wonder about the younger adults who find this cute. Currently, there is an ad for a travel company featuring a teacher who is ready for vacation. The kids in the classroom are tearing up the place. One kid is in the fish tank. Others are beating the furniture with bats and sticks. I have seen a commercial in which two girls are kicking in the sides of an air conditioner because it broke down. There is a commercial in which two young boys who are being baby-sat by their uncle destroy the house. They jump on all the furniture, tear up feather pillows. Grandma calls and asks, “Are we having fun yet?”
What kind of message does this send to our children? Destruction of property is OK! What kind of values are we teaching our young?
I grew up in the 1950s. If I had done something like that, I would have received a spanking. Spanking is now considered child abuse. Parents need to use some alternative and stick with it. If I see a child who is well-behaved in public and near me, I try to compliment the parent. I’m curious about your thoughts on this. — Watching in Disbelief
Dear Watching in Disbelief: I grew up in the ’90s, and I still don’t think that children should be allowed to act destructively or disrespectfully. I’m especially concerned when I turn on the TV and see children being rude to teachers — who have one of the most important jobs in the world. Why advertisements feature such behavior as if it were cute is beyond me. But I think your practice of complimenting the parents of well-behaved children is a kind and upbeat step in the opposite direction, and I encourage all my readers to start doing the same.
Dear Annie: I’d like to add to your response to the grandmother of the 7-year-old who wanted to invite only her new “besties” to her birthday party, leaving some of her old friends out. You said to invite all of the friends anyway because kids change their minds all the time and they might be best friends again by the next week. You were right. Leaving children out, pushing them to the sidelines, is a bad habit to get into. When we do, we are often creating bullying and other dysfunctional behaviors that can turn truly dangerous. And it’s never too early to begin teaching children to be kind and considerate of others’ feelings. — Beth in Oregon
Dear Beth: A million times yes. Empathy is a trait that can and should be nurtured in children early on. Thank you for your letter.
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