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  • Steven Delpome

"Kids can be so cruel."

Recently in class I witnessed children trying to help another child who was off task on the projects we were working on. Instead of doing the writing and research, she was looking at YouTube fail compilations. What shocked me was not that this child wanted to look at amusing videos (who doesn’t?), it was how the children tried to deal with the problem.

They scolded her and tried to coerce her.

“You better get back to work.”

“You’re gonna get a bad grade.”

“You better turn that off or Mr. Delpome is gonna yell.”

Everything they tried took the form of a threat, well intentioned as they were. Most of us write this type of behavior off as just how kids are. “Kids can be so cruel” after all. Like so much in life, we accept this as fact, without ever examining whether or not we teach this behavior. We adults, though, are the models they look to for how to behave. Do we spend most of our day threatening and coercing children to behave? Or do we model the right way to behave?

If the former, what right do we have to be upset with children for modeling themselves after us?

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