Hypothesis: Public egg hunts during Easter encourage greed, competition, and instances of bullying.
Evidence: On Saturday I watched 100s of parents and their kids coming together for an egg hunt to celebrate Easter weekend. The scene was festive, colorful, and kids of all ages had big smiles on their faces. There was face-painting, a concert, pin-the-tail on the donkey and other fair games...but all were just waiting for the MAIN EVENT: The egg hunt.
Of course, to be somewhat fair, there are age groups that get to go hunting together. Ages 0-2 were accompanied by their parents and generally took a longer time to vacuum the field of plastic eggs. And let's face it - they are cute.
Ages 3-5 were next - no adults allowed this time but just because they weren't walking with them, it doesn't mean they weren't 'influencing' their kids' path through the eggs. If anyone wants to know what helicopter parents sounds like, this was the event! Here are some of the comments I heard (no lie):
"Go to the right, there are more eggs there!"
"Charisma! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! WHY ARE YOU RUNNING PAST ALL OF THEM?! Get over here NOW!!"
"Go, Go, Go - get more here...HERE...NO HERE!"
A boy double-fists eggs to pick up greater numbers
Ages 6-8 were next. Boy did they 'vacuum' the field quickly. Here's a video to show you what happened:
What you don't see so clearly in the video, are instances of kids bumping, running into each other, and some signs of aggressive 'grabbing' of eggs.
Watching this simple exercise during a festive occasion, leads me to think the following:
(1) Kids are encouraged to grab as many eggs as possible, as opposed to trying to make sure those around them have their fair share of candy.
(2) Parents 'helicopter' over their kids to make sure they are accomplishing the task of gathering a large number of eggs.
(3) Kids are taught to be competitive without many ground rules, which leads to pushing, bumping, and kids who are faster and have larger hands (in some instances) to gather more than the slower, timid, kids. These behaviors can lead to minor instances of bullying - where kids feel that others are intimidating and hence walk instead of run, pick up eggs slowly instead of fast.
Of course not everything was sour. I did see kids having fun of course, enjoying their candy, and sharing their bounty with their families.
Here are some alternative thoughts:
(1) Why don't we let the kids decide how many eggs THEY want?
(2) Why don't we make sure they share with kids who have less than they do?
(3) What REALLY happens when we 'coach' our kids from the sidelines to do more?
Now it's YOUR turn: What do YOU think?
Akshay facilitates workshops on leadership, communication, and teamwork for adults and children with Ziksana Consulting. Read his Behavior Blotter for more on his work and his observations. If you have any ideas for stories, please contact Akshay at email@example.com
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