Working with a group of primary school teachers recently, letting off steam during the first weeks of the summer holidays, I listened, appalled, as they reeled off their latest nightmare classroom dealings, writes Amanda Gummer, a research psychologist specialising in child development in The Daily Mail.
But it wasn’t horror stories of pupils jumping on desks or hurling things around that shocked me most. Far worse was the attitude — and behaviour — of the parents. And not those at the less privileged end of the spectrum, either.
While we’ve long known this hovering parenting style can create children unable to make decisions or exhibit independence, what’s less often discussed is how aggressive and difficult the children of helicopter parents — often middle-class, professional and, to their minds, devoted to their darlings — can be at school.
Thanks to teachers’ diligence, the majority of children eventually settle into a world where they are no longer the star in their own solar system. But a substantial minority struggle terribly, with catastrophic effects on learning and development.
You might think such children are just plain naughty. But I don’t believe any child is born naughty. In my opinion, bad behaviour, such as the sort I’m talking about, comes from parents.
(To be clear, I’m not talking about children with diagnosable medical conditions that have a direct impact on behaviour and/or learning styles. Schools and parents need additional support to help these children thrive.)
Children need rules, boundaries and opportunities to feel the cold, go hungry and fall down and hurt themselves, so they can learn from their mistakes. If they are deprived of those basic life experiences at home, it makes educating them a far greater challenge for their teachers than it ever need be.
Have you experienced so-called ‘helicopter’ parents and ‘little emperor’ syndrome? How did you handle both the child and the parents? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin
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