I must start by stating: I am not a professional in child development or psychology. I have no formal training in the matter. With that said, I have been a child, I know and have known children, and I have children of my own. This article is strictly opinion.
There has been a growing trend in the media in recent years. News stations have highlighted them, they are recirculated on twitter and facebook, even celebrity blogs showcase them. I’m talking about video clips of how to raise a bully. No, they aren’t titled that. I renamed them that, because that’s what they seem to be.
The video clips I’m speaking of come in different forms. There are a ton of “tell your kid you ate their halloween candy and film their response” type clips…
And even a dad (that’s who they say he is, I don’t know that as a fact) lip syncing his daughter’s temper tantrum:
Okay, I get it. It’s Halloween candy. It’s silly, and it’s a “trick”. My problem here, is that you are putting a child in an emotional state for your own benefit. The child gets clearly upset, and then sees you laugh as you explain it was a joke. The child now learns that making people cry is funny, in a sense. Sure…. it’s a just a prank… take it easy, Mandy.
Then comes Dad’s mocking of tantrum. Hey, gotta give it to the man, he is right on with it. He knows what’s coming before it comes. Think maybe he hears those tantrums a lot? So what’s the big deal, it’s just a joke? Do you see the other kids in the room? Do you see how they walk around giggling, being shown that mocking someone’s anger is a joke?
Here’s the real problem.
If they grow up being shown that you will laugh when they are sad, film when they are angry, and post when they feel anything other than content, you no longer are their safe haven. If they can’t trust you with their feelings, who will they trust? Peers? Do you see where this is going? Even as an adult, if a peer has teased me about a discontent they are the last person I go to when I’m feeling discontent again. You know who I go to? The ones who listen to me, whether I’m right or wrong, and let me have my fit. Then, when I’m ready to let it go, if we feel like laughing let’s laugh about it. There is already a problem with teenagers turning to friends for help when they face a problem. There is already a fear of teens who are bullied feeling like no one will understand or listen. Why are we, as the adult, being bullies? Do you know why there is bullying in schools? Because it has become a type of sport. You can’t shield a child from learning how to be mean, but let the source be from somewhere other than the home- somewhere you can’t control…
I come from a big family of teasers. There can be fun and game in it. I’m pleading not at another’s expense is all. There is a difference between giving a child character and giving them a weapon. Teasing and sarcasm are unavoidable these days. You can teach a child to let it roll of their shoulders without teaching them to grab a hold and save the technique for later.
I am not claiming to be innocent. In the past, my husband has texted me from work asking how my day is going and in the moment will send him a picture of our 1 year old rolling on the floor crying with the caption “this is how it is going”. It’s my way of saying “I’ve got my hands full” or “One of those days here”… but I’m not showing her siblings, I’m not posting it on facebook or youtube, and I certainly am not sending it in to celebrities in hope for my 15 minutes of fame for an uncontrollable child who doesn’t understand why their world is not simple and perfect in their eyes.
Here’s how I see it, there is enough cruelty in the world and I don’t need to be a source of it. I don’t believe any adult should be the source of it. We are raising the next generation. We are in charge of how the next generation shapes up to be, how they treat one another. When my kids have problems at school, I want them to feel comfortable enough to come home and tell me. Even if they started it. I want them to be able to talk out their feelings with me, without punishment or embarrassment. Talking it out might be the only way they learn how ridiculous they are being.
What ever happened to viral videos being of babies laughing at dogs? Or videos of “surprise we’re going to Disneyland!!!”….
The world has switched gears somewhere down the line. We’ve done a reverse Monsters, Inc.
In the movie “Monsters, Inc.”, the monsters live in a world where in order to get electricity they have to sneak into kids’ bedrooms and make them scream. By the end of the movie, the characters learn that they also gain electricity by making children laugh. Not to be a spoiler to those of you who might not have seen it, but by the end of the movie the electric company is making money by comedy not horror.
Somewhere down the line, society has learned that we gain our “electricity” by poking fun at sorrow, sadness, anger, discontent, etc. That’s how you raise a bully. That’s how being a bully becomes a sport.
We must learn to re-channel ourselves to gain our “electricity” through laughter, not screams.