Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Being nice to little ones

Why is it so hard for people to be nice to little ones?

Yesterday Kyra and I were shopping a bit and heard a little one crying. We just kind of kept shopping not paying a lot of attention to it. Then when we went up to pay for our purchases we saw the little girl (about a year old) who was upset. She was in a stroller very distraught. Her mom was pushing it looking tired and her dad was walking along carrying an even smaller baby. Both Kyra and I looked at the little girl and gave her a "awww look" and she kind of paused. I kind of looked at the mom but didn't say anything. The mom finally took her out, which I thought she might hold her but she didn't. She put her down and the girl backed away. The little girl kept walking backwards away from them, almost like keeping an eye on them. :(

The dad said,"that's almost funny the way she's walking away, but I don't want to laugh it'll encourage her". I just ignored him and paid for the merchandise. I heard him say that she had disappeared into the men's department. And that she deserved a spank. I turned and looked at him and just had a very disturbed look on my face. I guess for her, getting lost was a better al
ternative than getting spanked and I now knew why she was backing away from him.

I wish I would have said more, I keep going over in my head what I want to say in these situations. Does anyone have any ideas? Please comment if you have any suggestions.


This morning I got Scott Noelle's daily groove and it really touched on what happened yesterday:
:: The Trickle-Down Theory of Human Kindness ::

In peaceful "primitive" cultures, kindness is
sustained from generation to generation by a kind
of
"trickle-down" effect. At its core is the
commonly
held value of serving and delighting younger
people,

especially babies.

Adults appreciate and support the delight of
adolescents,
who delight in the joy of prepubescents,
who enjoy entertaining younger children,
who love to carry babies and play with
toddlers.

The elegance of this top-down, pleasure-oriented
value
system is that the youngest people receive the
most
(and give the least) at the developmental stage
when
they're naturally narcissistic, while those who
give more
are more adept at deriving joy from giving.

In contrast...

Adults in our culture often *fear* adolescents,
who call prepubescents "dweebs,"
who disparagingly call younger children
"babies,"
who compete with real babies for scarce love

and attention.

When your children behave unkindly, remember that
you
can't enforce authentic kindness. Instead, let it
trickle down by *modeling* unconditional
generosity.
Using your creativity, find a way to serve and
delight
both "aggressor" and "victim" ...and yourself,
too!

http://dailygroove.net/trickle-down

Why is it so hard to be nice? Is it because we weren't always treated nicely? And that trickle-down meanness/disrespect worked the same way? I think that's part of why its hard. Some of our parents weren't treated nicely so our parents didn't treat us so kindly. I think we have to break that cycle. Break a lot of those cycles so our kids don't have the hang ups we have. So our kids can easily treat their children with kindness and gentleness. What an amazing gift we can give our children and world. I bet there would less sadness, less wars, and (with last week's Virginia Tech tragedy) less violence in the schools.

Just be nice :)

I will not play at tug o' war.
I'd rather play at hug o' war,
Where everyone hugs
Instead of tugs,
Where everyone giggles
And rolls on the rug,
Where everyone kisses,
And everyone grins,
And everyone cuddles,
And everyone wins.

Shel Silverstein

6 comments:

Deanne said...

I just posted "The Daily Groove" on my blog too! Yesterday was "Spankout Day". I didn't know about it until last night, but I'm planning on doing something to help promote it more for next year, that's for sure! I read alot of helpful info on their website, incl. this: http://www.stophitting.com/disathome/parentSupport/abusive-discipline-in-public-places.php

Snavleys said...

Oh, it's a tough one Kelli! A couple of weeks ago I got after a lady for hitting her child. He had fallen after she hit him and she said, "oh, honey, did you hit a slick spot?" I walked up and picked him up, turned to the mom and said, "No, he fell because you hit him!" She gave me a dirty look but oh well. Ren sometimes yells at people, "Be nice to that kid!" You know that they are not trying to be mean though, they just don't have the tools. I know I've pulled out some old tools that I am not proud of. You want to walk up and give these moms books about gentle parenting.

Schuyler said...

I love Shel Silverstein. Love, love, love that man. My dog, Pickle, is named after Ickle Me, Pickle Me, Tickle Me, too. I had the Hug of War poem taped in my locker in high school.

I've challenged people in stores before, but what seems to work best is if I help in that minute. But I'm not always good at figuring out a way to offer assistance.

It is hard to live in a world that sometimes seems made up of hurtfulness, unnecessary cruelty, particularly to children. I am so completely not accustomed to people being mean in my own life, it takes me by surprise when I see it while I'm out.

Sanden said...

There is actually a really cool project here in St Paul dealing with these exact questions. It's called Wakanheza - it comes from a Dakota word for child. They hold workshops teaching folks how to intervene in non-confrontational ways when tensions between a parent and child rise. They stress the importance of not judging the parent since that can often only increase their frustrations and lead to more tension. Schuyler, you seem to be on the right track about asking to help. They say just sympathizing with the parents and asking them how to help can often do the best job of diffusing tension.

You can find out more at their site:

http://www.co.ramsey.mn.us/ph/hb/wakanheza.htm

Madeline said...

I was at a GA organics conference this year and during the keynote talk a little girl at a table next to ours was being forced to sit in her stroller. She was crying and the parents were ignoring her. I did exactly what you did - obviously sympathizing with the baby and then looking at the parents. When I looked at her, the look on the little girl's face was so mature and soo desperate. And she picked her arms up to me as if asking me to let her out. Then the mother did let her out. So it worked. I do think asking to help would be good. The words just don't come out of me. It would be great to do a workshop like the one Schuyler brought up.

Madeline said...

I'm sorry, I meant the project that "sanden" talked about.