Countless times I have heard the expression “kids will be kids” in kid-obsessed America. It was totally unknown to me before, as the attitude associated with the expression was nonexistent in any of the countries I have previously been to or lived in. I figured out fast, however, that what it means is a simple, yet shameless justification of unacceptable kids’ behavior, a totally wrong assumption that all kids are extremely rude by nature and nothing can be done about it.
“Kids will be kids” is an absurd excuse so often used by slothful parents whenever someone else points out their child’s rude behavior. The latter action, deplorably, happens on way too few occasions because the exact same kind of parents, the oblivious and lazy ones who use the said expression, happen to be so aggressive that people are afraid of their belligerent reactions. When someone does have the courage to speak up though, in the form of a kind request to keep the kids respectfully quiet on a bus, to make them stop bullying someone’s dog with a stick on the street, to get them to stop throwing objects at people in a store, or to stop them from running wild in a bank, the “kids will be kids” excuse is shoveled down the polite person’s throat.
Way too often the above response from an aggressive parent leaves the person requesting the minimum respect speechless, as if the person did not know what to answer. It does not have to be this way though. Here are some insights:
Someone who assumes that every kid is rude and ill-mannered just because it is a kid, is not only highly disrespectful towards millions of polite kids out there and their respectful parents, but also very ignorant about child development and learning abilities, including abilities to learn the rules of politeness and respect. In other words, by saying “kids will be kids” this kind of parent insults not only millions of other kids, but also his or her own children, by implying that they are dumb by nature. Nice, isn’t it?
Kids are perfectly teachable, especially the young ones, but the process requires work, immediate reactions to undesired behavior, and above all consistency. It also requires a certain level of authoritativeness; however, most child-worshiping Americans are too soft on their kids. It is also important to start very early in a child’s life, while it appears most Americans postpone this teaching until it is too late, wrongly assuming that a young child is unable to learn or “just being a kid”.
With an adequate and consistent raising process, kids turn out very polite and respectful, and no “kids will be kids” excuses are needed when kids are polite kids. Do not let any failed, disrespectful parent make you think that it is otherwise. I will reiterate: kids are not rude by nature, they are not rude because they are kids, they are not rude because of their young age. They are rude because their parents failed to teach them respect and politeness.
Whenever I hear the “kids will be kids” excuse now, I recognize it as an aggressive and thoughtless response to my polite, but direct request to bring the misbehaving kid to order. My new answer to it is the following: “Kids will be polite kids or kids will be rude kids, depending on how you teach and train them. Yours are clearly extremely rude, they are offending me as well as other customers. You failed to teach them the minimum of respect for others. You must make them quiet (or seated or standing still).” I guarantee that this response, if pronounced in a calm, respectful, but strict voice, really works. I had many occasions to practice it, so nowadays it produces successful results.
I encourage everyone who is faced with the “kids will be kids” excuse to defend themselves. It is not as difficult as you may think, and even if you shy away the first time, you may rethink it, rehearse it, and the next time get him or her to comply and bring the kid to order. The impact of your little step for respect in public places for all of us is priceless.