Blame it on the city

Parent Connection

March 11, 2010 

Q. I read an article you wrote about misbehaving kids, and was curious as to whether there are any statistics as to what towns have the worst behaved kids.

A. This month, I celebrate the 12th anniversary of Parent Connection, and I must say that your question today takes the cake.

Your curiosity led to some meddling of my own, so off to the file cabinets I went. Nope, nothing filed away under "towns with worst behaved kids." Checked cities, states and regions for spoiled children, out-of-control kids, and stressed out parents.

I scanned a list or or two and looked over some professional journals. No luck. Next came some general internet searches.

Sorry to say, still no luck. I did find the cities with the worst traffic, crime rate, air quality, and even the worst weather. I discovered some folks speculating that what you name your child could sound the horn of misbehavior. It seems that "Little Johnny" has been replaced with a host of boys and girls names.

I did find various opinions on the worst cities to rear your kids, but that only left me pondering more. Which came first? The chicken or the egg? Hmm. Are these culprit cities the worst place to rear kids, or is it actually the bratty kids infiltrating these communities that make living there so terrible?

No matter where these misbehaving kids live, I agree with what you are suggesting today. We really can't blame those kids, now can we? So often is the case in which misbehavior from the child can be directly tied into what mom and dad are not doing -- setting boundaries and following through with discipline -- as well as what they are doing, as you so accurately pointed out, looking the other way.

This phenomenon of over-parenting moms and dads who hover over everything their kids do, except misbehaving, reminds me of a story a colleague shared with me one day. She had brought home a new puppy and introduced it to her other dog, a Lab named Hersey. That little puppy was all over the Lab, but what did Hersey do? For two weeks, he looked the other way. Ol' Hersey would turn his head away from that new little puppy every time he entered the same room, totally denying his existence.

I'm not sure about you, but I don't care to live in a daycare center. As so often in research, perhaps "further study" is the conclusion as to where the brattiest kids reside, but maybe we are getting closer to answering the question why.

Bryan Greeson, a nationally certified School Psychologist residing in Gastonia, NC, answers your questions. E-Mail him at parentconnection@hotmail.com.

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