Are your students out of control?

Does it seem like you have more students out of control recently than in the past? Over the past few days, I noticed people discussing an alarming new trend on Twitter — children are becoming more disrespectful and parents and other authority figures less effective. I watch social media closely and it's my job to share some of the hot topics on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and other outlets that teachers, principals, students, and parents are contributing.

Are your students out of control? Or do they seem less disciplined than students from the past? You're not the only one who feels that way. Stacey Socholotuk shared an article on her Twitter from The Sacramento Bee discussing a disturbing recent trend in Western culture's youth. The article is an interview with Dr. Leonard Sax, a family physician and psychologist. According to Dr. Sax, children these days are far more prone to disrespectful behavior than in the past. He claims the reason behind this is that parents are giving their children too much control, to the point they become the authority and the parent bends to the child's will.

students out of control

There are arguments that support this idea while others argue against it.

Those who believe this is a growing problem in our society blame it on many factors. Parents can't spend as much time at home anymore given the poor economy and rising expenses keeping them at work longer. This makes connections harder. In addition, children spend less time at home given the rising demand for extracurricular activities. While none of this is inherently bad, the time spent at home is being used unwisely.

Technology is a major reason time isn't spent wisely. Like busier children and parents, technology isn't inherently bad. Ill use and ineffective time usage are the problem. Dinner time and car rides are spent plugged in as are other times where families could've used it for bonding instead.

What most people who believe this is a growing issue agree on is that the new tendency to coddle our children is also part of the problem. Parents and teachers and everyone else seem almost afraid to discipline children, or have no authority to in some cases. This has created a mentality that people deserve things for simply existing rather than putting in an effort to achieve it. An example commonly used is handing out “participation” awards instead of giving a trophy to the winning team only. It avoids hurt feelings, but it also, according to this argument, fuels a generation of children who expect to get rewarded the same as everyone else without putting in the same amount of work, effort, or practice.

The other side of the argument states this “coddling” isn't fostering out of control students, but promoting emotional health. They argue that the discipline from the past, in some cases, was flat out child abuse and that things have only improved since then. Most people fall somewhere in the middle, thinking we've gone too soft, but that the old ways are too harsh and have to find a middle ground of sorts.

Others argue that this isn't an issue at all. They claim every generation has complained about the decline of parenting and an increase in disrespectful children. They say these discussions are nothing new and nothing to be concerned about.

Where do you stand? Have you seen evidence of a rise in disrespect in students? What are some ways we could fix this problem if you believe it exists?

Tori Pakizer is the Social Media Editor at SimpleK12.com. She writes regularly about the use of educational technology in K-12 classrooms, and specializes in how teachers use Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and other social media. You can follow Tori and SimpleK12 on Twitter @SimpleK12. If you have ideas for using social media in schools, please send your information or tip to editor@simplek12.com.