Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Boy Who Punches at 4 Will Grow Larger, Worse

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Boy Who Punches at 4 Will Grow Larger, Worse

Article excerpt

Dear Abby: About small children who misbehave in public places: Several years ago, I witnessed this scene in a large supermarket in Iowa. A mother (in her 20s) was at the checkout counter with a child who appeared to be about 4 years old. The woman was obviously pregnant, and was being hassled by her little boy who was nagging for a candy bar. After she refused him several times, the little boy hauled off and hit her in the stomach with his fist!

Then she said, "Well, all right." I couldn't believe my eyes when she actually bought that little brat a candy bar!

I had trouble containing myself, but I turned to her and asked, "How old is your son?"

"He's 4," she answered. I couldn't help myself; I said, "Well, if he were mine, he would never see 5."

She glared at me as if I were some kind of monster, paid for the candy bar and the rest of her groceries, and huffed out the door.

Perhaps I'm more sensitive to poor public behavior in children because of the way my daughter and son-in-law handle their four children at family gatherings at public restaurants. The children are usually very well-behaved, but on those rare occasions when they misbehave, they are taken out of the area, given a little "applied" psychology and returned to the gathering. It may take two or three minutes until the pout turns to a smile, but it does turn!

My hat is off to them and to all parents of youngsters who know how to apply psychology. Please use my name. DICK JOHNSON GREAT FALLS, MONT.

You saw a parent in the checkout line who had not only allowed her child to get away with inappropriate behavior, but rewarded it - a mistake that will compound as her son grows larger but not more civilized.

Children do not learn good manners and acceptable behavior by magic or osmosis. These traits must be taught, and the lessons must be constantly reinforced. It takes patience and consistency, as well as love, to be an effective parent. …

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