Kids Out of Control

Fields-Meyer, Thomas; Kapos, Shia; Brass, Kevin; O'Connor, Rose Ellen; York, Michelle; Harmel, Kristin
December 2004
People;12/20/2004, Vol. 62 Issue 25, p114
The article discusses how parents learn to cope with the bad behavior of their children. Paula Peterson lives in fear--of her own kids. When 6-year-old Abby doesn't get a toy during shopping runs at the local Target store, she screeches, stomps and flails until she gets her way, and she usually does. And when younger brother Joey, 4, doesn't feel like getting dressed in the morning, he shouts, bangs his feet and swings his arms so wildly that he has sometimes hit his mother. And while that behavior might lead some parents to crack down, the Petersons just give in. The evidence is in their kids' bedrooms, where Joey maintains a collection of more than 50 Thomas the Tank Engine train cars and Abby's shelves are overflowing with two dozen Barbies and scores of other dolls. "It's easier than dealing with the tantrum," says the exasperated Paula, an advertising executive for a Chicago radio station. Paula and husband Mike, 41, a dairy trader, once worried that their kids' sometimes violent tempers signaled a more serious problem like attention deficit disorder, but a doctor rejected that theory. From toddlers who order their parents around like servants to teens who become physically abusive, more and more kids are turning households on their head, running the show and leaving Mom and Dad to keep up. Though figures are hard to come by, experts say they are seeing more kids behaving badly--and more extreme examples of it--than ever before, and parents are looking for answers. Experts cite several factors, including increased stress for parents in a world where both often work; kids' constant exposure to more and more must-have toys, games--and sugary substances--on TV; and a reluctance among modern moms and dads to do things the way their stricter parents did. INSET: Handling the Holidays.


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