Are today's kids ruder than we were?


Bratty, rude and disrespectful. Ask any adult to compare the kids from twenty years ago to the kids of today and those are the words you’ll most likely hear.

While growing up I was taught to stand up when an adult walked into the room, to greet, to be helpful and to be respectful.

It wasn’t something we’d ever question when grownups were around and it wasn’t because we were scared of the consequences that came with not showing manners or respect, it was simply something we were taught to do and continued to do. (Although if I'd argued that as a child I probably wouldn't be here to write about it.) 

When an adult (be it a teacher, parent of family friend) walked into the room, stopping whatever it was we were doing before that to stand up and greet them came as second-nature.

Fast-forward to 2015 and you rarely hear the words ‘good manners’ and ‘the-youth-of-today’ in one sentence.

Even more concerning, is the lack of strength and authority that parents show when reacting to bad behaviour.

It seems that a lot of it is tolerated by over-worked, stressed and tired parents who just want to spend time with their children in whichever capacity, even if it means tolerating a few tantrums and bad behaviour.

It’s all relative in every generation

You’ll find bad manners and behaviours in every generation, but if the problem escalates between every generation, then one can only imagine what kids will be like twenty years from now.

When our kids have children of their own one day they too will be saying things like “when I was younger, kids had so much more respect and manners”. This doesn’t mean that we should tolerate some of the behaviours we see today or that we should accept it as part of life.

If we did, we’d be allowing the rate of bad behaviour to propel and in the next twenty years we’ll see a new generation of child-beasts who’ll probably rule the world.

We speak so much about leaving a better world for our children and our children’s children, so surely we need to ensure that we do the best we can to instil and inspire a caring, kind and respectful generation while we’re still here.  

Contributing factors

Technology and social media:

Children are growing up much faster these days than they did 20 years ago.

By the age of twelve your child will probably be able to access more on-line platforms than you’ve even heard of and they’ll soon be teaching you things about modern ways.

Their behaviours will be a direct indicator to suggest exactly what and how much they're picking up from these mediums and unless you get with the programme, you probably won't relate and understand a lot of where their behaviours are coming from. 

You’ll need to keep up with the times as fast as she keeps up with the Kardashians to know exactly how kids and young adults interact with other people in real life, so get off your phone, get involved and observe. 

Tired working parents:

Unlike twenty years ago, moms and dads are both working now to support the family and no working parent wants to spend every non-working hour disciplining and reprimanding their kids.

But perhaps if parents invested even 10 percent more time into creating awareness amongst their children by putting their foot down where necessary, this could make life easier and more pleasant for everyone further down the line.

Divorce rate:

The divorce rate is higher than ever.

With a lack of concentration and availability on the parent's part due to the stresses and time-consuming factors that come with divorce, child discipline isn't always an easy focus. 

How do I know when bad behaviour has crossed the line?

Once in a while your child will spontaneously show signs of bad behaviour for no reason and this is actually a pretty normal part of adolescence.

It may take time and patience to help them manage this stage of growing up, but this doesn’t mean that you shouldn't still be teaching them the difference between acceptable and unacceptable behaviour or that it should stop you from being a firm parent.  

However when your child regularly yells, shouts, argues or ignores you, this should act as a clear warning sign that there is a lack of boundaries and some need to be established. Immediately.

Don't be afraid to say "no"every once in a while. In fact, you NEED to say it.

As tiring and exhausting as it may be, if you want to participate in combating the growth of rude, nasty and in some cases even violent children, repeating yourself and following through on your disciplinary styles is a crucial part of successful parenting. 

Also read: 10 things parents need to stop doing RIGHT NOW!

Also read: Smoking moms have bad kids

What are your thoughts - are today's kids ruder than we were? What is the big difference and what should be done to improve on our kids' manners? Share your thoughts and experience by emailing and we may share your story!

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24