Saturday, February 7, 2009

Poor parenting

The little girl - not much older than 3 - was trying to climb up the slide in the soft play centre we had brought JKY to. Every time she tried to climb up, she got about half way before giving up and sliding back down again. Her mother would then ridicule her, saying 'You're rubbish!'

What a classic example of bad parenting. How is that poor little girl going to grow up, with the knowledge that her loving mother thinks of her in such a way? I'm sure her mum didn't mean any harm but, honestly, it isn't difficult to come up with an alternative phrase. Something a bit more, you know, positive. Like, 'Good try, Sally! Have another go!'

I'm dead against mollycoddling our children but that doesn't mean we have to resort to a mild form of verbal abuse every time junior makes a mistake. People often use words wantonly without any regard for the impact they have on children. When you say to child that they are 'rubbish' or 'stupid' or 'pathetic' they actually believe that they are those things, because an adult - a trusted person of supposed authority, wisdom and knowledge - told them so. Such labels sink in deeper than a knifeblade and stay there, slowly shaping the child's self-esteem and confidence in readiness for the angst-ridden adult years. No wonder Britain's parents have been criticised for being lousy. 

Now, I'm no perfect parent but I think I'm pretty good at the basics. Surely it's far better to give a few words of affirmation than a tirade of well-intentioned put-downs?

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