It's not just a tired old cliche that children learn a lot more from actions than words. We don't say 'monkey see, monkey do!' for nothing. What kids see adults doing is much more important than what they hear adults saying, especially if the two things are in conflict. "Do as I say, not as I do." (How many more sayings can I thow into this post? Read on to find out!)
When at the park a few days ago with my two kids and a friend's little guy, the two older ones decided that the climbing aparatus would be a great place to play for a while while Kat and I just hung around nearby. Everything was going fine even though Lucas* was shorter and younger than many of the kids on the climbing ropes, until another little guy decided that shaking the ropes was the best idea ever. Poor Lucas was stuck in one spot, the ropes shaking and swaying as this other boy bounced around. In typical kid fashion he hollered "STOP!" at the bouncing boy, but the boy didn't listen. He kept going, and Lucas yelled again (getting my attention for sure and I started watching to see what would happen; Lucas wasn't in any danger, he was just unsure of his footing) and again until a couple of other kids joined in asking and telling this bouncing kid to stop for a second so Lucas could move. I thought this was great; a little positive peer pressure, the bouncing kid will see that he's being an inconsiderate jerk, and life on the playground will go on!
And then one of the other moms/guardians who was sitting near the climbing ropes says "He can jump if he wants too! If you don't like it you kids can go play somewhere else." All the kids got quiet, except for the bouncy one. Seriously lady? You're telling 10+ other kids to go somewhere else because your precious little angel wants to be King of the Ropes? Wrongity wrong wrong answer. Then she looks at me like "Ah, kids, right?" and I shook my head, bit my tongue, and went over to help Lucas since bouncy boy still hadn't given up (of course he didn't; why would he? His mom totally backed him up in his crappy behaviour.)
Bouncy boy saw me coming and quickly vacated his spot of Bouncy Goodness while I helped Lucas move around some. I never said anything to the bouncer, especially not with his mom right there, but if I did I don't think it would've made any difference. His bad behaviour had been given his mom's seal of approval.