Doctor Warns That Children Are Too Spoilt By Parents, Treated Like 'Little Buddhas'

PA/The Huffington Post UK  |  By   |  Posted: 4/04/2012 14:15 Updated: 4/04/2012 14:15

Spoilt Children

Too many children are waited on hand and foot, and treated like "little Buddhas" by their parents, Dr Mary Bousted said today.

Children need boundaries and society needs to be more confident teaching youngsters what is reasonable behaviour, the general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) said.

She warned that problems with poor behaviour are not confined to the working classes, with some middle-class parents buying their children off rather than setting limits.

Dr Bousted, who is due to address the ATL annual conference in Manchester later today, said: "It seems to me that far too many children are waited on at home hand and foot.

"They don't do the washing-up, they don't do the hoovering. It doesn't do them any favours if you make them little Buddhas at home, and it certainly doesn't do them any favours in school."

She added: "Children need boundaries in order to feel safe and children without boundaries at home resent boundaries being imposed at school.

"We need to be more confident as a society in saying 'you can go so far, but no further', 'you can have this, but not that'. We need to be more confident in what's reasonable and in our expectations of children and young people."

Children who have not been set boundaries do not understand their responsibilities towards other people, Dr Bousted suggested, and fail to understand "that adults are not there to serve them, they're there to safeguard and teach them".

She warned that lack of boundaries is "not a problem that's confined to one class" and that middle-class parents, if they fail to impose limits, "can buy off their children".

Dr Bousted said that the vast majority of parents and children do a good job on setting boundaries and civilised behaviour but added: "The effect of the minority is utterly disproportionate."

Her comments come the day after ATL passed a resolution warning that schools need tough behaviour sanctions that rival corporal punishment as a deterrent for naughty pupils.

Current methods, such as detention, suspension and exclusion, are failing to deal with behaviour problems because school leaders are more concerned with meeting targets and losing income, according to Julian Perfect, an ATL member from inner London.

He insisted he was not advocating a return to corporal punishment.

At the group's annual conference in Manchester today, Mr Perfect proposed a resolution which warned that successive governments have failed to introduce effective ways of dealing with naughty pupils since corporal punishment was abolished in 1986.

The forms of discipline currently available to teachers remain "totally inadequate", the motion said.

Mr Perfect told delegates: "This motion does not seek the reinstatement of corporal punishment but rather the identification of additional forms of sanction for use by teachers to deal with inappropriate behaviour, the implementation of which will not be constrained by financial considerations or retention targets, and which receive the full backing of school and college managements."

The resolution instructed ATL's executive committee to look into suitable effective disciplinary measures to alleviate the "debilitating effects on children who want to learn and teachers who want to teach".

A survey released by ATL last week suggested that poor parenting could be fuelling bad behaviour in schools.

A third of teachers have dealt with physical violence recently and behaviour has worsened in the last five years, with pupils kicking, punching, pushing and shoving school staff, it said.

The current government has given teachers greater powers to search pupils, to issue no-notice inspections and clarified guidance on use of force.

Dr Bousted said she believed that these measures have been helpful to teachers.

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  • How To Be A Positive Parent

    Tips on how to instill good behaviour in your child from an early age by using the 'positive discipline' approach, as advocated by the <a href="" target="_hplink"><strong>National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty for Children</strong></a> (<strong>NSPCC</strong>).

  • Show The Love

    You can never spoil your child by showing them too much love. Boost their self-esteem by making them feel cherished, safe and special.

  • Have Clear Rules

    Have clear simple rules and limits. Your child needs to know what the boundaries are, what is and is not acceptable. Keep it simple to avoid confusion and concentrate on behaviour that really matters.

  • Praise Good Behaviour

    Praise good behaviour that you want to encourage and chances are, your child will repeat this as they know there's a reward at the end of it.

  • Ignore Bad Behaviour

    If you ignore behaviour you don't like, it is less likely to be repeated by your child. Make it clear that you're open to communication when they are behaving, but not when they are being naughty or disruptive.

  • Avoid Direct Criticism

    Rather than telling your child off for being bad, identify what they have done wrong and criticise the behaviour instead. Direct criticism can cause your child to go into their shell and become shy and withdrawn.

  • Show The Signs

    Be as demonstrative as possible. Sweep her off her feet and praise her to when she's been a good girl. She'll remember how happy it makes her feel and make her want to be good again.

  • Step In

    If it looks as though your child's behaviour is starting to deteriorate, step in before things go wrong. Redirect them to another activity to avoid conflict. Acknowledge your child's feelings by saying, 'I know you are cross" but make it clear that it doesn't go beyond that point.

  • Let Go of Control

    Children need to learn about dealing with choices and decision-making. Don't impose your decisions on them all the time, let them have their say on little things and gradually increase this as they get older.

  • Never Be Threatening

    Never use threats or physical behaviour, as this will only make the situation worse. Negotiate solutions when there is a disagreement and remember to communicate to help dissolve the problem. This way, your child will end up understanding what went wrong and why you are upset with them.

  • Set A Good Example

    It's vital for parents to be positive role models for their child and practice what they preach. Actions speak louder than words. Let your child see that rules apply to everyone in the family, not just him or her.