Parents Gone Wild at Easter Egg Hunt
Last updated: 8 Oct 2018
The headline on our local paper reads, “A few rotten eggs spoil Easter Hunt.” Parents, who were supposed to stay behind the ropes at an egg hunt event for young children, leapt into the kid fray, scooping up eggs for their young children to make sure they got — what?
The most? This wasn’t a competition.
The best? All the eggs were the same ubiquitous plastic eggs you can get at any discount store.
The biggest? Nope. The eggs were all the same.
And what difference does any of that make anyway? Most-best-biggest wasn’t the point. The point was for little kids in a small town to have fun on a spring morning. With 18,000 eggs out there, there were plenty for all. A few too-eager, too-competitive parents tramping around in a kid event was an example of parents gone wild.
Oh, these parents meant well. They meant to help. They meant for their kids not to have to suffer disappointment. They wanted to protect their children from any anxiety about getting their share. But such good intentions played out in this way have unintended consequences. As they watch their parents intrude, the kids learn things that their parents may regret.
Kids really do learn from what they see and feel as much as from what we say. In psychology, we call this meta-communication — the message that underlies the verbal message and may even contradict it. It’s like sarcasm. “That’s a really pretty dress,” said with sincere warmth, is a compliment. Said with a sarcastic sneer, the same words mean the opposite — something like, “That dress isn’t pretty at all and you’re a fool for wearing it.”
Telling kids that it’s important to share, that they should watch out for those smaller than they are, that it’s not who wins but how they play the game all sounds great.