“Get a move on!” Road safety and parental rudeness

Posted by Samantha on September 18, 2015 in Communication, Conditioning, Consequences, Safety, Worry |
Crossing fields...easier than crossing roads

Crossing fields…easier than crossing roads

I pulled to a stop at a red traffic light the other day. Two teachers began ushering a long line of primary school kids across the road right in front of my car bonnet.

All the children wore those bright-yellow high-visibility jackets and were around six and seven years old. The teachers were so close that I could hear them clearly through the open window of my car.


“C’mon, c’mon, c’mon, go, go, go”, said one, touching each child on the shoulder and kind of shooshing* them along.


(*Shooshing – a cross between a shove and a push, not truly rough, but not gentle either.)
A second teacher also did this shooshing thing and added her own “Move, move, get a move on”.

Both teachers seemed harried and irritated. Both teachers seemed afraid of the danger the children were in while crossing the road.
I felt sad watching this. How tragic is it that the teachers were so worried for the children in their care that they treated them like that? How awful is it that they thought there was even a tiny chance that I would begin to move my car before the children had all crossed the road?

Did they think these fear-inducing thoughts consciously? Were they aware of how their fear was making them behave rudely? I don’t know, but their behaviour certainly betrayed the fear they felt.

This is a classic example of how we often unthinkingly speak to our children in ways that demean them; that are offensive to their innate dignity as human beings.  We usually do this when we move  out of love and care and into fear. Most of us would not dream of speaking to an adult in this way. And if we did, that adult (if they were emotionally healthy) would not spend long in our company.
And yet our children cannot escape. Day in and day out they have to listen to our fearful exhortations. They have to suffer the indignity of being shooshed and barked at.

The situation was not all the teachers’ fault either. It was a busy junction. Maybe another driver would have revved or moved their car forward as soon as the light turned green. Our roads and drivers are frequently hostile to young pedestrians. Getting the children across the road as fast as possible was the right thing to do.
And I know I’ve spoken to my own children in ways that have demeaned them so I certainly don’t condemn those teachers for how they treated the children in their care.


But understanding where behaviour comes from doesn’t undo the consequences of the behaviour. Right before my eyes I witnessed adults behaving rudely under pressure to children.
Rest assured, the way we speak to our children will come home to roost.


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