Jim Duffy: Why today’s kids are the worst behaved for a generation

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Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is probably one of the best kid’s movies ever made in an era of films that included Mary Poppins, Willy Wonka and The Sound of Music.

The music from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang still gets me singing along every time I hear it. But, it is the characters that made the movie so memorable.

My favourite character may surprise you.

No, it wasn’t Dick Van Dyke as Caractarus Pott. It wasn’t Sally Ann Howes as Truly Scrumptious. Not even Benny Hill as the Toymaker. No, my favourite character was the Child Catcher played by Robert Helpmann. And I guess for many kids who watched this film, the child catcher was a sinister and scary man who not only looked awful, but just loved his job - at being awful. However, there is more relevant point to the child catcher and why he helped Baron Bomburst rid the land of children. And the older I get in this weird century we live in the more I yearn for the child catcher to come back to life...

Kids nowadays are probably the worst behaved for a generation. Wouldn’t you agree?

Whether it be on planes, trains, restaurants or supermarkets, kids just have no idea how to behave themselves and keep quiet. On airplanes kids kick the back of your seat constantly. And on many tour operators these days the back of my seat is plastic, so the thud thud thud goes right through me. Then they moan and gurn to their mummies asking for this and that. If they don’t get it they ask why, why, why mummy.... They cannot take a telling and have no appreciation of no means no and keep quiet. In fast food outlets and restaurants they climb on the seats, shout at mummy and daddy to give them this and that and throw food all over the place. They whine for their tech and throw tantrums when things don’t go their way. And you wonder why I want the child catcher reinstated?

Or maybe I’m being unfair. It is safe to say that I am a lot grumpier now as I age. But, the little darlings grate even more on my nerves now not just because of my age. They are most definitely louder, more raucous and less inclined to listen to their parents. Ah yes.... maybe I have been too hard on the kiddies. Maybe if we look a bit closer, we can see that they are simply a product of the people who brought them on to this planet. Yes, 21st Century mummy and daddy who, on the whole, do not have a clue as to what parenting is all about. Don’t get me wrong, there are some terrific parents working very hard with their children to install manners and values within them. It is admirable and long may it continue. But, there is a large majority who either do not really care or do not have clue.

I’m not going to fix this generation of badly behaved kids in this column. Creating an army of child catchers would only lead to even bigger trouble ahead as they would all end up in borstals. And that experiment did not end well. Mind you it got rid of two bullies out my class at school! No, locking the poor wee lambs away would only cause them longer term harm. I’d rather ask you the question. What do you do when a kid is blatantly being badly behaved and the parent is doing nothing to stop it, check it, intervene or even try?

I recently was on a plane where mummy and daddy walked on with three kids all under the age of seven. As they walked on I could see the kids were hyper and saw the whole travel experience as a big adventure. I prayed quickly that they would walk to the back of the plane. But alas, my God was not listening and the wee beauties sat behind me, while mummy and daddy sat in the rows behind and opposite.

Within 40 minutes of the flight all three were arguing, shouting over to mummy and kicking lumps out my seat and the seats of the two elderly passengers in my row. We all looked at each other and my elderly neighbours rolled their eyes and shook their heads. I’d had enough after 90 minutes and despite looking round was getting no joy from the parents. Then I noticed that daddy was fast asleep. Yes, while we endured the torment of his offspring, he was grabbing forty winks uninterrupted. Swine....

So, what would you have done in this situation? Do you simply endure it and accept the fact that there is another hour and a half to go. Bed in and try some mindfulness techniques. Or do you attract the attention of the cabin crew who are far too busy selling food to create commission to make a wage? Or, do you get up out your seat, and wake up daddy? Who will either act responsibly or get all rowdy. Will the other passengers support you as they have all noticed the kids behaviour? Or will you be left on your own only to end up on the end of a mobile phone snippet sent to a tabloid depicting you as a grumpy passenger from hell?

As it happens, I did nothing except shake me head with all the passengers seated around me who were all unhappy at the din. Did I fail? Or did I simply keep the peace? Yes, kids nowadays are louder and in my opinion more needy. But, we have a generation of parents who seem not to care and when challenged become defensive and even aggressive. So we don’t bother even trying.

I wonder what you will do the next time you witness kid’s bad behaviour while their parents do nothing. Is it not time to start speaking up?

The child catcher character may be mythical.

But the problems we have these days with kids is real and only getting worse.