Walking the dog with my friend Rebecca, discussing life, the universe and everything as usual and generally having a bitch about Germans and our shared cleaner (Latvian & quite bonkers) one of the many subjects covered was that of children.
Now I'm not sure whether it's because we're both English and in days gone by English children were expected to be 'seen and not heard' or whether its because we're both in our 40's (ok, I apologize to Rebecca here, she's not 40 till December 19) but what I mean is, we're both of the same generation and were brought up by parents who remember the war (just) so as children we were brought up 'firmly'.
My children certainly have a different attitude to grownups than I did as a child, when all grownups were addressed as Mr or Mrs, these days children call adults by their christian names - which is fine by me (I've been married 20 years and still think that Mrs Evans is my mother in law) and actually that formality remains here in Germany.
Anyway, for children growing up these days there is far more tolerance of behaviour and in Germany even more so -which is at odds with the formal name thingy, but hey.
Rebecca's youngest, Thomas, started kindergarten in August and he's loving it. At last he gets to go play with the older children but on the flip side he's learning new behaviour and getting away with it, yes he gets disciplined but if the disciplining doesn't change the behaviour you have to ask yourself how effective the discipline is!
At home previously Thomas was always the joker but naughty behaviour would be stamped on. At kindergarten his sister reports that he burps and blows raspberries at the dining table and continues despite being told he'll get no pudding (he loves his food) and when he doesn't stop he's sent outside (whilst sticking his tongue out at the teacher - I'm presuming she doesn't see this) He has yet to try this behaviour at home, probably because he knows he wont get away with it.
German kids do get far more choice or rather they are allowed far more choice, for example an activity may be mutually arranged and then 1 child is asked whether they want to do it and when the answer is no then everyone's plans are changed.
This kind of freedom of choice is seen in the schools also where the children go unchecked from class to class, with just a thin layer of trust to hope that they stay on the school premises.
A laissez faire attitude I think.