Many parents often wonder how their children acquire certain habits and traits, and hold on to them in spite of repeated efforts at correction. I recently attended a management training in which the trainer narrated an interesting story that throws some light on this subject, which I paraphrase below.
There was once a boy who used to steal pencils and erasers from his classmates and take them home. For some time it went unnoticed but as students started to complain, the class teacher found out about this. She admonished the boy about his conduct and explained to him how it was wrong to take what belonged to someone else. However, this did not have any effect on the boy's actions and, after many more incidents were reported, the teacher had no option but to call the boy's parents for a discussion. Even after his parents scolded and chastised the boy, he did not mend his ways, and the teacher had to summon his parents again. Overwhelmed by frustration at their helplessness in reforming the character of their son, the father remarked, "I don't understand why he does this. If he needs a pencil or a pen, he just has to tell me and I'll bring him as many as he wants from my office". A deep silence followed, and the teacher had found the roots of the boy's habit.
While the example in this story may be an extreme moral scenario, it nevertheless provides insight into how a child subconsciously develops a notion of what is acceptable and what isn't. Our children may not listen to what we say or obey us, but they're constantly watching us and following the examples we set. If we find that a child doesn't treat others nicely, that's perhaps how he is used to being treated. In most cases, people are bad or evil because they do not know any better; with children, this is almost always the case.