‘Unruly’ and what to do about it.

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There’s times for running and times for not!

Been for a haircut. And the inevitable ‘chat’ with the hairdresser, which I freely admit I’m not very good at. But she cut the girls’ hair when we were home educating, without judgement on what we were doing, and always asks after them.

She’s a lovely young woman who has some fairly powerful views, many of them on parenting, even though she’s not a parent herself. She sees some fairly ‘unruly’ children in the hairdressers whose parents drag them in, dump them in the chair, then leave the responsibility of them to her whilst they pop to the shops!

Even without being a parent she’s aware that this is not ideal parenting. And she’s also aware that many parents should be far more engaged with their kids than they are, then maybe they wouldn’t be ‘unruly’.

The inverted comments illustrate the fact that I’m not sure what else to call them. We know what I mean; not doing as they’re asked or knowing the point of what grown-ups ask, exploring things when it’s not appropriate, inability to understand what’s appropriate behaviour in the circumstances, none of which is a crime but needs guidance.

We all see this all of the time. I saw a child running up and down in a cafe the other day where stressed waitresses were busily carrying out plates of hot food and having to dodge round her. Parents didn’t say a thing – couldn’t even see the problem and thought their child was just expressing important needs, clearly oblivious to whether this was appropriate or not – and to the fact others’ have needs too.

Children’s understanding of what’s appropriate or not evolves in the first instance from interaction with their parents in a variety of situations, where they’ve been talked to, guided, shown, had explained, engaged with. Interaction teaches kids what appropriate behaviour is.

I know some parents feel that a child should be allowed to express themselves in any way they want without that being inhibited. That we should never suppress them in any way.

But I look at it this way, we want our children to grow up to be liked. But we all need an understanding of the fact we are not the only ones in this world, that others need consideration too, that we have to grow and develop within those considerations even whilst being as true to ourselves as possible. We are social animals and social animals operate within boundaries of respect – for others, for self. Suppression is not the point. Guidance and explanation is. If they’re asked not to play with the stuff on the hairdresser’s trolley there will be reasons!

Neglecting to teach them the understanding of this simple truth is neglecting the parental duty of guidance and personal education.

Parenting is difficult. It tests us all the time. The children test us, test boundaries and want to break rules – course they do, they’re inquisitive little beings. Mine certainly did – and that brings us challenges. But the simple antidote to some of those challenges, like how to stop them rummaging in the hairdresser’s trolley of intriguing bits and pieces, is to build a good relationship with the child at every opportunity, one that is based on respectful interaction, dialogue and guidance as to what to do when – and when not! Dialogue and conversation is an effective learning tool. And the time we devote to nurturing that is an important part of our parenting.

It’s part of education too. And even this young woman, without any children of her own, could see that as the role of a parent more clearly than the parents themselves!

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4 thoughts on “‘Unruly’ and what to do about it.

  1. I agree, permissive parenting doesn’t help anybody.
    Ross I’ve been meaning to contact you for a while as I regularly read your blog which I discovered when we were contemplating taking our eldest child out of school about 18 months ago. We now have both our children out of school and your blog and books have and continue to be a really valuable support. On the strength of your blog I bought your book ‘A funny kind of education’ which, in addition to making me laugh, helped me take the leap from school to home education. Leaving the world of school seemed like a massive deal at the time, your book helped the whole idea seem more ‘normal’.
    I recently bought your new ‘Home Educating Notebook’. I love the fact I can dip into to it and be reassured in just a few minutes. Sometimes some well qualified advice from someone who has been there before you is exactly what is needed to turn a day around. It’s also nice to have a British perspective,so many of the parenting books I’ve found helpful are American. I would recomend your writing to anyone home educating their children.
    Thank you so much Ross
    Laura

    • Wow – what a delightful message – thank you so very much Laura. It means so much that you’ve taken time to tell me that. And so uplifting to know the books are doing their job. Makes my work worthwhile! I’m so glad to know they’ve helped. If you felt like reviewing them on Amazon or Goodreads it helps spread the word and other people like you, who may need a bit of support, to find them. But thank you anyway – you’ve made my day. x

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