My boys played dodgeball last night at wrestling practice. It is an interesting social experiment to watch. Approximately 70% of the kids went straight to the wall as soon as being hit. Another 25% looked around to see if anybody saw them get hit and ultimately were either told they were out or chose to call themselves out. The last 5% would bite, cheat, and steal to stay in no matter how obvious it was that they were out.
Now, these were mere children who are still learning how the world works. They don’t have the full rule book yet or know how to navigate it (not from a lack of intelligence). I imagine most of these kids will grow up to be a few deviations from the person they were in that dodgeball game.
Some will do what is right by society, some will bend depending on the reinforcement, and some will simply do whatever they want no matter the social obligation (especially when winning is concerned). As an adult in which category do you reside? How much are you letting yourself get away with?
The children in the dodgeball game have an excuse whereas you as an adult do not. You know the rules and you are old enough to know what is right and wrong. You know how you should treat people. You know how you should treat yourself. You know that Y happens when you do X.
We expect children who do not have the capacity or training we as adults do to behave better than we as adults behave. Maybe if we behaved like adults our children would behave…well probably still like children, but more like sweet respectful children and less like little demons. As soon as we stop letting ourselves get away with stuff maybe our children will follow suit.