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Socially Inappropriate Behavior Rant

I realize I just wrote about social norms a few days ago, but I had another real life experience involving kids and a totally inappropriate adult.  This is exactly why social awareness and manners really count.

I was just at my daughter’s dance recital this evening, a somewhat long but entertaining event that I really enjoy going to.  There’s a good mix of older and younger kids to create a show with variety.  The staff is professional, appreciative of everyone involved, and the kids work hard for them.  I made note of a special announcement before the performance, reminding people to turn off their cell phones and not to yell or scream names of performers between songs.  I thought, “Well why is that ‘no yelling’ reminder even necessary?  This is my fourth year attending and nothing like that has ever happened.”

Until tonight.

One woman yelled out names of various girls not once, not twice, but five separate times in between some of the songs when everything else is silent.  Like “GO JULIE! WHOOOO!”  Completely loud and impossible to miss.  The last (fifth) one happened to be right before my daughter’s last song, and I was so irritated by this continual rude behavior that I didn’t even realize my daughter’s group was dancing until almost halfway through the song.

I felt distracted, irritated, and disappointed that someone was so blatantly disregarding a common performance courtesy over and over.  This was no marching band show, or halftime at a basketball game, or a gymnastics demonstration where you are encouraged to cheer your kids on.  Yelling is expected and tolerated during those situations.  I’ve done those kinds of performances, and blocking out noise is part of the deal.  This was a darkened auditorium with a lit stage and girls with beautiful costumes.  Classy and professional.  You shouldn’t need to learn how to handle rude audience member noise at a dance recital.

It isn’t encouraging to the girl who’s name is being blurted out.  It’s cowardly because it happens in the cover of darkness.  There’s a “let’s see if I can get under someone’s skin” vibe about it.  It’s completely self-serving because it is outside the social norm of the situation and it’s being done on purpose.  A person with a terrible cough, a crying baby, a person who stubs their toe and falls on the way back to their seat – those interruptions are different.  They are generally forgivable because there is no purposeful intent to disrupt.

The point of these activities is to lift your kid up, let them experience the fruits of their labors, and have fun.  It’s all about them.  Make sure they know how proud you are of them, and praise them for recovering from mistakes or (ahem) ignoring some ridiculous person trying to draw attention away from the performance.  While a situation like this is totally annoying, it is a great opportunity to complement your kid on their focus, courage, and discipline.  And I did just that with my daughter on the way home.  Learning to let distractions slide off your back is a hugely important skill no matter what the task.

Thankfully, I didn’t see evidence of anyone’s performance suffering from the distraction.  The kids are so well taught, they know how to get up on stage and go no matter what.  And the performance as a whole was great – everyone did a remarkable job and I enjoyed it a lot.  Yeah, you know me, I even cried some!  But I know I won’t forget the feelings of irritation and disbelief I had.  I’m not certain what this woman’s motives were, and I really hope she’s not a mom of any of the performers.  What a great example of what NOT to teach your children about behavior in public.

I get one more night to enjoy the show, this time with all of my girls performing.  I’m looking forward to it and I’m hoping it’s heckler-free.

Socially Inappropriate Behavior Rant

Erika Krull, MS, LMHP

Erika Krull, MS, LMHP is a practicing licensed mental health counselor in Nebraska.

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APA Reference
Krull, E. (2009). Socially Inappropriate Behavior Rant. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 14, 2019, from


Last updated: 2 Jun 2009
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