Where Did All the Rotten Kids Go?

So I’m attending a 5-week Dad’s group and last night was the second time we met. So far it’s pretty good and I’ve met some cool guys. A lot of it doesn’t really apply to me because Will is so young, but at least I’m getting a sneak peek at what the future holds for me.

But last night our group leaders started talking a lot about temperament and behavior. They told us kids are born with certain temperaments already ingrained in them, and we need to be sure we adapt and encourage those traits even though we may not share them. They also told us bad behavior may not always be “bad,” and we need to separate and fix their bad behavior while making sure to tell them they are not bad kids for doing what they do.

And I think to a large extent they’re right. It all depends on the age and the circumstances, but environment is a large determining factor in what kind of person the child becomes. I don’t doubt this. However, the way they made it sound seemed like they were saying there are no bad kids, just bad behaviors they learn.

I couldn’t disagree more.

I think there are DEFINITELY bad kids out there. Rotten apples, bad seeds…call them what you want. But I believe there are kids who are born to be troublemakers regardless of their upbringing. I think you could fill these kids’ lives with all the nurturing and support in the world, and that kid would still end up a deadbeat. And that’s no one’s fault. It happens. But I don’t like the idea of pretending that everyone is inherently good and bad kids are only made, not produced that way.

It dovetails with the notion today that there are no more dumb kids. Think about it: there are no more lazy, dumb, stupid kids anymore. I think this was actually a George Carlin sketch but I’m stealing it. If a kid isn’t paying attention in class anymore it’s not his fault. He’s not goofing off, he has Attention Deficit Disorder. They don’t get bad grades because they’re dumb or they didn’t study. Now they have an Information Processing Disorder. And kids aren’t uncoordinated or clumsy. They’re gravitationally challenged. It goes without saying there are kids out there who have genuine problems and disabilities like autism, actual cases of ADD, etc. And while these kids should get all the assistance in the world, I think others — who don’t really suffer from these disabilities — are just haphazardly getting diagnosed and subsequently medicated.

JUST STOP!! I don’t buy into all this crap. What happened to all the stupid kids?? Now they’re not stupid, they just have disorders. And if they don’t fit into an existing disorder, another one is simply made up. Because we now live in a world where every kid is special and gifted and talented. Even in sports, trophies are routinely given out to everyone and each kid makes the team.

That is utter bullshit. Hell, kids can’t even play dodgeball anymore because all these “experts” claim that a game where humans are used as a target is exclusionary and threatening. This is crap! Dodgeball should be played in every school in the country. Sure sometimes you get whacked in the head with the ball and you’re out, but other times you’re the hero. You rally back and beat three other guys and the playground cheers you on. It teaches you coordination and it gives you a backbone. And as far as all kids getting a trophy, stop it. Only the winners should get trophies. And only the best should make a sports team. I was cut from my middle school basketball team and I was pissed. So pissed, in fact, that I worked my ass off the next year and made the freshman high school team. That probably wouldn’t have happened if I had been coddled like kids are today.

Instead of encouraging greatness we are raising the bar on mediocrity and the result is a generation of soft, self-entitled, gimme gimme gimme kids that don’t know how to compete. There will always be bad seeds and dumb kids. We shouldn’t forget about them, but we should at least acknowledge that kids are not all special and they’re not all gifted.

The sooner we realize that and stop making excuses for them, the better.

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14 thoughts on “Where Did All the Rotten Kids Go?

  1. I loved playing Dodgeball growing up. I was the fat kid, thus the first target, which meant I could sit out the rest of the time.

    It was pretty great.

  2. It’s sad that kids are so soft these days. Every single effort is made to “protect” them. It makes them unable to hand the harsh realities of adulthood and that’s why we have so many messed up teens, tweens and 20somethings. No one challeges them, pushs them or punishes them.

  3. My best friend who is a teacher just told me that teachers are not supposed to use red pen to correct papers anymore because it makes the paper look like it is “bleeding” and this is demoralizing to kids…..

    Couldn’t agree with you more.

  4. It’s like you read my mind. I wholeheartedly agree. We’ve taken away a major guiding factor from kids – personal responsibility.

  5. I agree to a point. Kids are getting way too soft. I hate the whole mentality of giving EVERYONE a trophy or ribbon. We still need first, second and third place. Besides, we all know what 2nd place is right? 1st loser. :)

    However, I do feel that bad parents breed bad kids. Do you ever watch Supernanny or Nanny 911? All of those kids act just like one or both of the parents. It’s learned behaivor that the kids believe is ok because not only do the parents act that way, they accept it.

  6. It depends on your definition, lol. I agree with you completely about the sports teams. I drilled my son over and over again for his first football season. He’s been a little athlete phenom since he was 3 so it wasn’t hard to get him ahead of the game when he decided he wanted to sign up for football this year. He ended up as a second string safety. They never even tested his ability. The other day he got to practice early and started tossing the ball with one of the coaches. He was floored when he saw how my kid passed and was even more impressed when he realized he could aim the pass too. If they stopped coddling kids and made them try out, they wouldn’t have teams with 40 kids on it vying for playing time.

  7. Couldn’t disagree more. There’s a reason we’re so ‘soft’ on kids now. Everyone forgets the crap that put our parents and their parents in therapy (ALL of my mother’s generation is in therapy right now). Being picked last for every team, being told you are stupid when you do have a learning disability–it DOES scar you. I don’t believe in competition, most of the time, especially not for children. Yes, they should all get trophies for participating and trying their best. Yes, they are all special–just ask their parents!!! And if your kid grows up to be picked last for every team, and ends up having a hard-to-diagnose learning difficulty, you may not be laughing so loud…

    Of course, kids should be held responsible for their bad choices. We’re their parents–we’re supposed to teach them. Get a bad grade, study harder next time. But 99% I disagree with you.

  8. “I think there are DEFINITELY bad kids out there. Rotten apples, bad seeds…call them what you want.”

    So…you think some kids are just genetically bad-but they can’t be genetically stupid?
    I think you’ve got to go one way or another. Either the hyper crazy kid is just hyper, or he has been hard-wired with ADD. Either the rebellious youth just had crappy parents who beat each other, or he is genetically ‘bad’.
    I’m a firm believer that most of the new invented childhood “disorders” could be cured with a swift application of a kick upside the head by their parents (and then the parents can have their own kick for doing such a shitty job raising thier kids). Good parents = Good kid. Now…I’m not the one to judge if you’re doing a good job raising your child. But if your kid gets expelled for flinging his own feces, it’s probably your fault, not the fact that he’s descended from monkeys that’s to blame.

  9. K.K.

    No one is laughing at kids with learning disabilities. I never, EVER said that so please don’t put words in my mouth. Of course there are kids with genuine learning disabilities out there, and they should be given all the assistance possible. What I’m saying is that I believe there’s a tendency today to group ALL kids into some sort of disorder, when that isn’t the case. All we can do is help our kids do the best job they can, but if their best is less than average then that’s just how it is. But instead, we’re telling them they have ADD and putting them on medication. Again, some are valid but many are not.

    And I’m talking about middle school age children here, ages 11-13. How can you say competition is a bad thing at that age?? That’s when they need to learn that not everbody is good at everything. Encourage kids and support them, but a trophy for everyone despite doing nothing to earn it? That’s ridiculous and it takes away from the idea of actually achieveing something. Essentially, it makes winning or excelling at something moot if there’s a fallacy out there that everyone is so equal.

    And yes, people will be picked last. But how do you intend to avoid that? There will always be someone picked last, it’s a part of growing up. You want to eliminate that because there may be some hurt feelings?? Give me a break.

  10. Ah, we were just talking about what a travesty it is that there is no more Dodgeball. I cringe at the thought of having a t-ball nation of kids out there. I’m nervous that today’s kids will grow up thinking life is rosy and not learning some tough lessons that you need to learn along the way. They need coping skills! And one more thing. I know plenty of dumb kids. Sorry. Great post!

  11. K.K –

    I am most likely of your Mom’s generation, and I am not in therapy – although my kids may tell you I should be.

    I think avoiding competition is done more for the parents than the kids. Kids love competition. It is basic. They can understand it. When we start trying to tell them it is ok to be mediocre in everything, I think that is wrong. Now, I don’t think we have to push kids to excell in every single aspect of life. I don’t think we have to make everything a matter of life and death. But playing baseball and not keeping score – what in the name of God is the point? Getting some sun and exercise? Go to the beach!

    There is now a disease or disorder for almost everything. That is not meant to overlook the poor kids who really do have problems. But we don’t need to make up a disorder for every kid who is just stubborn or won’t do something. God, I sound old here!

    At least medical and mental health professionals have succeeded in one thing. We have eliminated all the stupid and lazy kids. They are gone. What a great achievement.

    I think when we do this, we take away the focus from the children who really do have serious problems and need our love, help and support.

  12. I use this analogy for people that have beef with competition…

    If you worked overtime, busting your ass at work constantly and consistently out performed all your co-workers, you would be mad and offended if they gave bonus’s across the board. Especially when you know the cat sitting next to you is always late or out sick and does piss poor work. Why should it be any different for my child?

    If my boy is in the backyard until dark, practicing his pass, doing sprints, laps around the yard, push ups and drills, and your child is playing Simpson’s Road Rage with an empty bag of frito’s next to him, WHY should your child be recognized and awarded along side my child? That’s ridiculous and makes my child wonder why he should bother doing all he does if he’s can get a trophy without it.

    THAT is why I have my son playing the clarinet also. You can’t fake that. Either you practice, put in the effort and learn to play or you don’t. If we used the non-competitive reasoning in this scenario, can you even imagine what a concert would sound like? I wouldn’t even sit through that bullshit. And that is how I feel when I watch some little kid standing in the middle of the field with no clear idea what the hell he’s doing and my son is on the sidelines begging to be put in. It’s outlandish.

    Side note… I had a very proud mom moment last night when my son made an ILL tackle. He came running over yelling, Mom I hit him so hard I made him cry!! Nothing more adorable than 9 year old grid iron, lol.

  13. hey let em grow up being soft that way when the get to the military we’ll have even more work to do. besides the fact that the mil. is gettin softer too… Maybe we’re conjoring the “somethin for nothin generation.” All we can do is challenge our own children as we can and stay involved in their lives. God only knows what i would have “HAD” in school I just never applied myself b/c i was so bored in my classes until i got into the Honors/AP program.
    The PEE WEE football thing i know is real big in some places but not so much down here in NC. She says no football; but we know she’ll crumble when asked. How do i get my kid to understand that when he does get old enough he may be ” TOO BIG”? (If you know me you understand). He’s already a bruiser and not 1.5 yet(i.e. Had to physically take him off of another child who took something from him at daycare)

  14. I totally agree with Aaron on this. My 7-year old nephew plays in two soccer leagues at the moment. In his regular outdoor soccer league, they don’t keep score because they don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings and want to make sure everyone is equal. And it drives him nuts! With the indoor league, the players are more advanced and they have to work hard to win. Does he like it when they lose? Absolutely not. But it drives him to be a better player when he knows he has to step it up.

    And I see the effects of this phenomenon in the workplace already. At my office, we have kids coming out of college with this mindset that they are the greatest thing since sliced bread and will be handed a job that pays $80K a year but they won’t have to work for it. They are surprised and indignant when it doesn’t happen that way, and when they aren’t given VP level perks for just being who they are.

    JEE is absolutely correct in her analogy – I would be pissed as hell if someone was being rewarded for doing nothing while I was busting my ass. This whole charade needs to stop.

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