Making Excuses for Bad Behavior Encourages it to Continue

Sometimes it seems easier to ignore poor behavior by dismissing it with an excuse. Janet complained bitterly about another mom who let her son get by with hitting Janet’s son. When he hit, she’d just look on saying something like “Oh, he’s such a boy.” She did nothing to stop his hitting. 

You give your silent approval to your children’s behavior when you ignore it or excuse it. By ignoring poor behavior, you can expect the behavior to continue and escalate. Excuses parents sometimes give for poor behavior include:
  • It’s just a phase. 
  • Boys will be boys. 
  • Girls are just like that. 
  • All teens have bad attitudes.
Ideally, the parents of the child whose behavior is out of line will intervene. However, if those parents don’t act, you may need to in order to not add your own silent approval.

Megan described being at a buffet restaurant where a family of rambunctious children were running around. While the kids jumped off chairs, the parents just sat there. The kids then decided to use knives to spray sticky pop out of the soda machine.

This inspired Megan to get up to tell them that it wasn't a toy and that they needed to wipe up the mess they had made. The kids calmed down and cleaned up the mess. Although these children’s parents glared, other restaurant patrons applauded the fact that Megan had addressed their poor behavior.

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