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To wonder if I'm failing my kids by bringing them up to be 'nice'

(115 Posts)
Frazzledmum123 Tue 11-Apr-17 06:46:21

Something I've been wondering about a lot since my son started school really, sorry this is long...

I have 3 children, and the older two (the youngest is a baby still) are, if I do say so myself, wonderful kids. They have their faults of course but they are very well behaved, thoughtful children in general. TBH I used to feel a bit smug because I know and have been told by teachers that they come across well. However, I've increasingly noticed that actually, good guys don't win.

My son who is 6, really struggles socially. He is liked by most kids but if I'm honest I guess he isn't exciting to them as he'd never do something he knew he shouldn't. I've noticed that the kids who all the others fall over themselves to be friends with are actually the ones who can be mean and play up in class. Even those who are nice kids but a bit naughty seem to do better. I consoled myself last year that being good meant he was picked by the teacher to do things so was getting more opportunities but this year he just seems to be fading into the background, all the naughtier ones (I've helped out in class so I know which ones they are) seem to get more attention and even more rewards as an encouragement when they do behave. It didn't seem to bother my son for a while but recently he seems desperate to be part of the 'in crowd' and it broke my heart when recently he burst into tears (he's not really a crier) because they told him to go away when he tried to join in

My middle child, a daughter, is a bit more advanced with her social skills but even at her nursery I've noticed it's the naughty ones who are always in a crowd

So I'm starting to wonder if actually, by bringing them up to behave, I've actually massively failed them in terms of their happiness? They will probably do well enough academically because they listen and try which is what I always thought was important but actually I'm starting to wonder if it is. In the real world, as much as we'd like to think doing well is a nice job etc, I'm wondering if those who are happiest are the ones who are popular and did a bit more, exciting/ naughty things as kids

Really really not meant as a stealth boast about my kids, I'm genuinely feeling really sad at the moment that I may have got things so wrong for them. Even tried telling my son it's ok to do things you aren't always sure you should occasionally but he just would never be able to bring himself to do that

arethereanyleftatall Tue 11-Apr-17 06:53:24

That isn't my experience, neither of my dc are naughty and they both have plenty of friends.
Nothing wrong with being nice.
No one likes tell tales or show offs, but nice people get along just fine.

donajimena Tue 11-Apr-17 06:54:10

I think you are overthinking this. I'm of the opinion that you can only have a certain amount of input and the rest is nature rather than nurture.
I do my best to instil good values in my children and in the main they are extremely good children (excellent feedback from school also)
Unfortunately my eldest does have a bit of a selfish streak which is definitely down to his own character which no amount of talking about seems to change.
I'd carry on as you are.
I'm 45 and I've only started standing up for myself in the last year and I certainly wasn't brought up to be passive. I just was by nature.

BlackHillsofDakota Tue 11-Apr-17 06:54:51

I absolutely agree, I have often felt the same. My dd are older 10 & 12 and it doesn't change. They are polite, well behaved girls that play by the rules. I definitely feel they are at a disadvantage at school.
My older dd particularly has had a tough time at school and struggles socially, I genuinely can't see why she has so few friends and neither can the teachers.
I console myself that they will be much more able to deal with work and adult situations than those kids that always get their own way and don't think of the consequences of their actions.

icanteven Tue 11-Apr-17 06:55:45

Don't second guess yourself. You're teaching your children manners, but presumably you're also teaching them to stand up for themselves, to fight back, to "lean in" and be decisive too, right?

The badly behaved children (and their parents) will find that they are mysteriously never invited for playdates, parties etc. You can boost your son's social standing by having lots of playdates and socialising outside school to build bonds with the children he likes (who aren't the awful ones).

Allhallowseve Tue 11-Apr-17 06:59:06

I imagine that as they get older they will have a strong group of loyal friends . yes the naughty ones may be flavour of the month and seem popular at the time and they may well have genuine friendships. However if your DC are as you have described I'm sure they will have no problems with friendships in the future they still are very young and learning about themselves .

HerBluebiro Tue 11-Apr-17 06:59:16

Forgive the wail link but apparently not. Think what the cool kids from your school are doing now.

I was unabashedly uncool. I now earn over 100k pa. Have a 12 year relationship. Dc and a house and garden. I'm happy. My bullies, tormentors and those who just ignored me aren't. Some are in prison. Some are still living with parents. Some are flitting from relationship to relationship.

Just help him learn some social skills. As they are a skill like any other

alltouchedout Tue 11-Apr-17 06:59:37

My eldest ds is a child who does daft, reckless, downright naughty things regularly. He was very popular in the past but now he's in year 6 he has very few friends. Constantly naughty kids become annoying. Ds2 is extremely well behaved- gets on troubles at school less than once a year on average. He takes longer to make friends but the ones he has, are long term and firm friendships. And as he gets older (8 last month) he gets more popular.
You bring your dc up the way you feel is right.

KateDaniels2 Tue 11-Apr-17 07:01:04

Its not my experience.

I have spent a long time helping dd 'toughen up' (cant think of a better expression).

Both my kids are nice kids. But dd was a total walk over. She still had loads of friends, but often ended up not speaking up snd bring walked on by some people. I did for a while think she was too nice. But it was a lack of confidence when speaking up for herself.

Ds is just as nice but doesnt take any shit. Hr has lots of friends too. Both kids are well behaved at school and get on with their work and always kind to people. Thats from their teachers, not me. Ds is better behaved at school than he is at home grin

DeadGood Tue 11-Apr-17 07:02:33

Agree that it's not really possible to mould your children, they come out with personalities pretty defined. But I see where you are coming from, and I would say that you should take the long view. Sounds like they are still really young - the way they are now won't define their whole lives.

MangoSplit Tue 11-Apr-17 07:03:31

This hasn't been my experience. My DC are 'good' kids too - well behaved, bright, try hard, listen to the teacher etc - and I was a bit worried that they'd be teased for being 'swots' or similar, but it hasn't happened yet. They all seem to have lots of friends. They're 11, 9 and 7 btw.

Do your DC do any extra curricular activities? I think that being good at sport or drama or whatever can be a self esteem boost and help children develop socially.

Wellitwouldbenice Tue 11-Apr-17 07:05:04

Are you strict to the point of repressing them? In which case YABU.

CrumpettyTree Tue 11-Apr-17 07:06:02

I found the same as you op at primary school, but the nice kids come into their own at high school i found. The mean kids who were cool and popular at primary school i found went too far at high school and ended up getting excluded and had all sorts of problems at high school whereas the nice kids who were a bit isolated at primary found a similar nice bunch of kids at high school (due and a bigger pool of kids) had a great time without all the nastiness/bullying and falling out that the mean kids got up to. I also found the mean kids left the geeky kids alone as they were too busy focussing on what each other were doing.

StillDrivingMeBonkers Tue 11-Apr-17 07:07:13

You are confusing 'nice' with popularity.

As said up the thread, I too have known many 'nice' people who are popular and many not so 'nice' who are equally popular. Some people just have the inner gift of a magnetic personality! It can be quite inexplicable really.

My son had a friend at primary school, very aesthetically pleasing (child model) , very sporty (played football for the country), very bright (went to grammar school - he was the golden child, a lovely sunny, happy boy for whom everybody wanted to be his friend. He just had an aura about him. Some people are like that. I would describe him as 'nice'.

CrumpettyTree Tue 11-Apr-17 07:07:57

Due to a bigger pool of kids

Timefor2 Tue 11-Apr-17 07:10:15

I think it can come down to shy/quiet children rather than necesssiry good children? The quiet ones are also often (not always!) good by default and may find it harder to make friends. Of course confident child can also be good too! I was a very well behaved kid, only ever in trouble at school for talking too much rather than rudeness or what I would call true naughtiness, but I had a good circle of friends.

Brown76 Tue 11-Apr-17 07:11:29

I am exactly this natured person. Whilst I've never been the life and soul of the party and can be quite "dull" I have built up a dozen different close friendships and stayed in touch with those friends for decades. This could start with the play dates with one or two friends, maybe an out of school activity they can shine at (and that could bring out their confidence and assertiveness).

DancingLedge Tue 11-Apr-17 07:14:04

You're telling DC to do things they know are wrong, in order to be popular?
Really? Really?

neonrainbow Tue 11-Apr-17 07:14:54

It depends if you're raising them to always "give way" to other kids because they want to be nice all the time. I wish id been more assertive as a child as i grew up to have no confidence as i always let myself be walked all over.

arethereanyleftatall Tue 11-Apr-17 07:21:58

I don't know your dc at all, but are they the type who quip 'don't do that, you're not allowed' at every single thing another child does? That would result in other children giving them a wide berth. They need to find a balance.

Your op implies that every single other child in their group is naughty , which would be absurd.

bouncydog Tue 11-Apr-17 07:22:31

DD was also brought up to be "nice" to others and has a lot of similar friends. At her school there were 2 groups - the nice children and the ones who were always in the thick of it. Nice doesn't mean your children should be a pushover though. When the very confident group tried a bit of bullying they soon came away with a bit of a shock to find that although quiet, DD was well able and confident enough to deal with them. I think it's all about getting a balance and ensuring your children have confidence and belief in themselves.

OddBoots Tue 11-Apr-17 07:23:10

It does depend on what you mean by nice.

When does kindness and caring become an inability to say 'no' and at what point does modesty become self-repression?

Ideally we need to bring our children up to think about the needs of others but not to the extent that they are continually putting themselves last, it is a tricky balance to find.

user1471558436 Tue 11-Apr-17 07:32:54

A while back I read something about infant aged children being attracted to the more challenging/physical kids. However I also read that this changes and older children are drawn to different qualities in friends.

Looking at my own children aged 4 -14, I can see this is completely true. Mine all went off the 'IT' children aged 9/8. They all went through a period of reflecting upon friendships qualities and values, largely bought about after lowkey and major school events.

My kids are much like yours. Well behaved and quite academic. They all limped through infants but came into their own part way through juniors.

fiorentina Tue 11-Apr-17 07:33:30

Children can be nice but still be full of personality. From my observations I think our DC are generally nice and kind but they are both feisty and full of energy so also fun to play with, funny and happy to mess about so have formed friendships with similar children and are happy to speak up in class. If you're worried are there any other social groups - cubs/brownies or something sporty they could join to help expand friendship groups and find other similar children?

user1466690252 Tue 11-Apr-17 07:35:05

I was naughty and "cool" in school. I regret it on such a huge level. Yes school was fun, but I didn't make real friends because they were fickle, those who were good and quieter went on to have amazing jobs and fantastic life experiences. Their small friendship groups are still close and I wish so much I had that. I am trying to raise my children to be as good and as kind as they can be. I hope they are true to themselves and form meaningful relationships. Even if that is just 3 proper friends

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