I don't feel that parents are to blame for everything, but this will make it sound like I do. I'm willing to reevaluate and put more blame on parents if needed, but I won't swing the other way and say they aren't to blame at all. From what I've seen lately at preschools and public places is that children are not being told their behavior is rude, inconsiderate, or unacceptable.
When a child tells another's mom they are "smelly" or they are allowed to be disrespectful and the only comment from the parent is that he or she is "just a kid" I feel the need to remind them that the point in childhood is to learn how to be an adult. I can guarantee that my child will never be disrespectful to an adult and not be reprimanded! When you condone their behavior you are telling them it's ok an that they should continue to behave that way.
A child pushing another so they can win a race is not just "being a kid" they are being a bulky. They are harming another child to win, just to feel happy about winning. I've seen parents watch that and figure they will outgrow it. They won't unless you help them to learn better. If they are never told its wrong, if they get away with it, then they think it's ok. It's not.
It's also not ok to allow your child to always boss other kids around. Yes they all do it a little, some days more then others, and se children are naturally more take charge then others. There is a line however, and it can become harmful if they never learn that other people's opinions and feelings matter. It's I'd in fact a growing stage, and each stage offers you and opportunity to raise a wonderful person. There's a difference between being confident and sharing opinions and making other people do what you want. Please, don't raise your children to believe that only they matter, that what other people want isn't important. Not because they shouldn't ask for what the want, they should go after their dreams, but pushing others around isn't a good way to get there. It can be done other ways.
As I watch children and parents interact I see a lot of similarities between kids now and kids years ago. The thing that's different is the parents. I can't imagine how long the ride home would be if I dated to insult someone's moms! And I'm pretty sure I'd be making an apology letter too, whether I could write it myself or not, they woul be my words and I'd have to print my name. Unless I was made to apologize in person, certainly in front of the other kids too. That's how I learned to be polite and respectful. It wasnt acceptable to be mean to any other child, that would lead to a lot of time spent with them until common ground was found, and the lessons were that everyone is worth getting to know and that everyone's feelings matter. It's NOT fun to make someone else feel sad or hurt their feelings. We used to go out of our way to avoid hurting someone's feelings unnecessarily.
I also see bullying and exclusion among the parents. If you are taking a out another parent behind their back, or ignoring them or being rude to them, then your child will grow up thinking that's how they should treat their friends. Now they are becoming like the "mean girls" in high school, they are already excluding people for no reason. It seems harmless, but kids will take your actions to the extreme and grow into someone who you didn't intend for them to be.
When I felt the need to explain to one child she was being very rude to me and that wasnt ok, it also occurred to me that other people's parents used to be almost as scary as my own. If they saw you doing something it was expected that they would call you on it and man did you get in trouble again when you got home! Now I find myself hesitating to say anything to other children about their behavior as their parents may not like it. Have we really changed that much as a community? If my child does something I don't see I want to be told, it needs to be addressed. I want her to understand that her friends parents deserve respect and if she's at their house she needs to follow their rules (unless they are wackos or it's dangerous!). If they sit at the table to make a puzzle then that's where you sit, it doesn't matter if we do them on the floor. It's how she will learn to adjust to different situations later. One job may have different rules then another and she needs to learn to deal with that.
I feel as though people are so caught up in how cute these kids can be and forget that they are raising people who can harm others, hurt people's feelings for no reason, and who are shaping the world around us. Maybe a reminder that how they treat people now is an indication of how they will treat their own parents when they get old and need to be cared for will make a difference. If they don't respect parents or friends now, they won't respect you later. I want to grow old in a pretty retirement home with my friends and good care, not shoved in a falling down building where they remember to feed you once a day and never have any visitors. What we send out into the world really does come back to us later.