The fact is, kids do grow out of things. They grow out of diapers, crawling, preschool, training wheels, and Barney. But when referring to bad behaviours, this phrase is just plain misleading.
Someone somewhere long ago started a vicious rumour. It probably went something like this. “Oh, fret not, they wilst outgroweth thine deportment.” This erroneous statement passed to neighbours and statesman while tourists took it back to their own countries. All over the world people started saying “he’ll grow out of it” with confidence that this phase, too, would pass. Let’s not correct, let’s ignore it. Let’s just wait it out. It’ll eventually pass. Unfortunately this mother was likely intoxicated in an effort to survive the terrible twos. Nevertheless, it – like cellulite vanishing cream – gave mothers everywhere hope, and so they believed. We believed this vicious rumour, to our children’s detriment.
But, let’s be honest. “He’ll grow out of it” does have a grain of truth. In fact, they will probably grow out of that behaviour. Yes, they’ll grow out of that behaviour into one much worse. Behavior is an outward expression of an inward attitude. If your child is very angry (not angry in response to a situation, but generally angry), their expressions of anger may change, but without addressing the issue, the anger will not vanish. Your child may lie, deceive, and manipulate. This might seem childish and harmless from a 5-year-old, but left undisciplined, it will turn into something very ugly and dangerous in a teenager. Outright disobedience and derision may seem like a passing phase of tween angst in a 12-year-old, but left unchecked, can turn into full on rebellion in a teenager.Everyone is born testing the limits and pushing the envelope. It is our job as parents to recognise what is a fleeting phase and what might actually stick around if we aren’t careful. When we know which is which, we can work to remove the bad behaviour before it takes root.
Discipline – training and instructing for the good of the child – is an act of love. It is helping children do what they cannot yet do, namely, to protect themselves and their futures. Bad behaviours from bad attitudes (again, not in isolated cases but their general behaviour) will not bring our kids success or happiness. Getting to the root of these issues and addressing the child’s need can. Then, instead of growing out of a bad behaviour into a worse one, they can grow out of a bad behaviour into a healthy one.
PS – Go to the archives for past articles!