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Bringing up Britain

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  • Message 1. 

    Posted by BBC Parenting hosts (U7576855) on Tuesday, 7th April 2009

    Bringing up Britain returns to Radio 4 on the 8 April at 20:00, looking at contemporary anxieties and debates about parenting, with a panel of experts to offer practical advice, relevant ideas and experiences.

    The first in the series will ask the question ‘Does shouting at children inflict damage or is it an inevitable part of busy family life?’

    This is your space to have your say about the programme, opinions on modern parenting and the issues families face across the UK.

    For more information on the programme, go to


    BBC Parenting team

  • Message 2

    , in reply to this message.

    Posted by Shoppa cuckoo mum (U2468825) on Tuesday, 7th April 2009

    sounds interesting, might have a listen. I think that my initial thoughts are "it depends" on the situation, the child's personality and so on. I wouldn't hesitate to shout at DD in warning if she was doing something that could be dangerous, but I do feel guilty if I shout at her in frustration.

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  • Message 3

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    Posted by pingypenguin (U3833222) on Tuesday, 7th April 2009

    My DD (2) now says "For goodness sake" when I frustrate her.

    Wonder where she learnt that from...<erm>

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  • Message 4

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    Posted by patient-mum (U13906968) on Tuesday, 7th April 2009

    We have made a very conscious effort to not raise our voice to our three year old daughter, however the only occasion my husband actually did shout she immediately shouted back at him to stop shouting at her, she was then less than three years old. The point here is that children will reflect the attitude and behaviour that you demonstrate to them; this is how they learn (both good and bad behaviour)
    We explain and discuss everything with our daughter, and always have done from an early age. It is amazing how much a child understands at such a young age. We also get down to her level and make eye contact.
    We can probably count the number of 'tantrums' that she has had on 1 hand. She is a very balanced child and demonstrates emotional intelligence.
    We strongly believe that children learn by copying, and this is often noticeable when they start nursery and mix with their peers, for example; so if a parent shouts at their child they are more than likely going to shout themselves.

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  • Message 5

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    Posted by missdipsy (U13907567) on Wednesday, 8th April 2009

    You're very lucky to have a child like that! I'm sure your parenting style has made a tangible difference to your daughter's behaviour, but it is also likely that she had a more placid temperament in the first place. I have two children with slightly different genetic inheritance (they have different fathers) and it has really brought home to me just how much of our personality stems from innate dispositional tendencies (although, of course, subsequent experience makes a huge difference in how these are expressed). My kids were totally different right from the day they were born; my daughter was placid & slept through the night from a very early age, whereas my son was much more restless, curious and easily "overexcited", and was very difficult to settle at night or calm down when he was upset. As a toddler, my son had terrible temper tantrums where anything you did made him angrier - the best tactic was just to leave him alone in a safe place until he'd calmed down! My daughter wasn't anywhere near as bad with tantrums, although she did get worse as she got more independent and developed a stubborn streak (she was regularly cared for by her grandmother at this time, who unfortunately gave in to her demands too easily!). I noticed that talking too much with my daughter about her behaviour made it worse as she craves social contact more than my son, so she actually enjoyed the attention! I learnt to keep it short & sweet with both children in "the heat of the moment", but discuss things in more detail later.

    I'm a big believer in talking to children, and have always made an effort to explain why they should or shouldn't behave in a certain way, and to listen to their thoughts and feelings. However, if you actually had a child who flies into a rage easily, you would realise that talking calmly is not always an option (it actually made my son's tantrums intensify when I tried to talk to him). I always discussed it with him when he had calmed down, though. I also made a huge effort to help him learn to deal with his emotions, so he's not too bad now, but is still prone to getting "overexcited" and carried away by his emotions, and I suspect that it's something he'll have to manage for the rest of his life.

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  • Message 6

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    Posted by Poppy55 (U10228702) on Wednesday, 8th April 2009

    Message 4 looks more to show off her child than any other thing, doesnt it>>:-)

    One thing I see is that since psicologists have taken the control of parenting, there are more bad behaved children.
    Odd enough today when majority of children are not smacked, their behaviour is more aggressive in nurseries and schools. How psycologues can explain this?
    I have taken care of small children where the mother do not smack the child and they are monsters even hit their mother while the mother said that the only thing she does is living the child alone to calm down :-0 which I found quite shocking.
    One of the main mistakes with parents is that they dont show limits to the child because they are afraid of "traumatising them for life" which produce more problems in his/her life because they do all what they want without thinking of others or the consequences of the actions.
    Also there is the syndromes, if a child bad behave also is product of syndrome machin which is another way of doing nothing to educate the child.
    And today nobody wants to recognize that there are mistakes on the way children are rised. Paradoxally today when fathers are more comunicative with their children and they are left to express themselves more, they become more antisocial.... how is this possible?

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  • Message 7

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    Posted by islama (U1039316) on Wednesday, 8th April 2009

    What makes children little monsters is not shouting nor not shouting, smacking nor not smaking, etc.
    It's lack of discipline, coupled with love and attention. This also includes recognizing their biological needs, such as for sleep, food and water. Tired and hungry children are rarely well behaved.
    Children are all different and some easier than others. However, if we take the time to engage them and discipline them properly, virtually all children can learn how to behave.

    In our case, we find that shouting sometimes works for selective hearing. ;-)
    BTW, DS does not really have tantrums and he is generally well behaved. He is an easy child, IMO, but we have always made an effort to explain things, be consistent, punish when necessary, support each other and give him enough attention.

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  • Message 8

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    Posted by pingypenguin (U3833222) on Wednesday, 8th April 2009

    Dear Patient Mum

    Congratulations on being the perfect parent with the perfect child and thank you for honouring us with your advice on our forum.

    I note you're new member so won't have had time to judge the tone of this forum.

    General golden rule... we all accept we're normal and don't mind admitting to it.

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  • Message 9

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    Posted by djbankselland (U13908486) on Wednesday, 8th April 2009

    This is the most common sense comment I have read so far. I concur completely.

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  • Message 10

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    Posted by ancientma (U13908504) on Wednesday, 8th April 2009

    Old mother here - kids now in teens, nobody in jail yet, nobody on drugs so far, nobody pregnant, both still at school, husband and I still talking and smiling...shouting doesn't kill a child, telling them who is boss doesn't either and if you want your kids to grow up sane, healthy and happy, stop negotiating, stop procrastinating, start talking sensibly and remember that you are actually the adult here and need to behave as such. Parents worry too much because we have all our eggs in one very small basket. Grow up. If you don't then they can't. Why should it all be fun and games? Life isn't. Off to pub now because I can leave my house in the charge of my pleasant, sensible and much loved children. Took years of shouting to get to this stage....

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  • Message 11

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    Posted by Marsh Gibbon (U233467) on Wednesday, 8th April 2009

    Interesting that both of the 'intervention-needed' types were ones who wouldn't recommend the way they were brought up themselves....

    Love MG x

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  • Message 12

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    Posted by appleblossom73 (U2311898) on Wednesday, 8th April 2009

    I agree with most of what Patient-mum says and don't think she was foisting unwanted "advice" – she's not telling people what to do, merely relating her own situation. I guess She is a very balanced child and demonstrates emotional intelligence.  does come across as a wee bit <erm>, I admit, but the rest of her post is <ok>.

    I'm going to listen again to the programme tomorrow as I'm supposed to be working just now (hah!) and couldn't concentrate on both things at once. Part of what I caught made me despair, though – some guy saying that it's healthy for kids to grow up with a certain amount of shouting in their household because it "prepares them for the real world." What on earth does this mean? So because kids will eventually, in adult life, encounter other people being bitchy, devious, deceitful, what have you, it's also a good idea for them to have a little bit of all these qualities too from their parents when they're growing up, is it? <doh>

    Not going to pretend I've never shouted, of course I have, but I'm not lying back and accepting it as something normal and inevitable – IMO it's something that I need to work at eradicating completely if possible ...

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  • Message 13

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    Posted by globaljen (U13908551) on Wednesday, 8th April 2009

    Thank you for a very interesting programme. Very unfortunate that it isn't available on iPlayer, as I would like to share it with others.

    One point made by Sue Gerhardt was that attachment issues are present in approx 35-40% of the population, and they are 'passed down' from parent to child. It is true that therapy can break this cycle, but the Government are not providing it. Trying to get the right long term psychotherapy (required to break the cycle of poor attachment) is nigh on impossible on the NHS.

    There are charities (eg the Oxford Parent Infant Project) who provide some limited resources (in OXPIP's case, counselling for postnatally depressed mothers), but even if you know what you are asking for as regards long term help, you can not get it unless you pay privately.

    Perhaps the Government can help parents out here. Instead of spending money in the short term telling parents what they should not be doing (ref. the comment regarding Sure Start advice on how NOT to parent children), they could put the funding into the kind of early intervention that actually works - long term attachment-related psychotherapy that will show long term benefits for both parents and children. Parent education (ref not smacking, shouting, etc) is only effective if the parents are in a position where they can implement this advice. Attachment issues cause significant emotional and mental health problems which often make it harder to parent consistently, even when there is an intellectual understanding of 'good parenting'.

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  • Message 14

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    Posted by chironguy (U13908514) on Wednesday, 8th April 2009

    Stephen Scott and Sue Gerhardt have a long history of presenting very important ideas. However, there are other stories to be told, especially by people who are not middle class. Research is not value free, especially when it is perpetrated by one class on another.
    The parenting practices of some should not IMO be established for all. The parenting in Buckingham Palace or as presented at the Maudsley is not IMO superior to the parenting in Hackney or Doncaster. Shouting at children can be as much to do with showing caring as it can be to do with impulsive frustration. As Pat Crittenden wrote recently (2008) "When we misunderstand parents' outbursts, we sometimes offer harmful treatments."
    Fourteen years after first publication, the question 'Who's fit to be a parent?' posed by Mukti Jane Campion still needs to be studied.
    Before he died a few years ago the historian Conrad Russell argued in a UK social work journal that government should not get involved in setting standards for parenting. I would add that middle class professionals need to be very careful before publicly taking expert positions: we're all in this together.

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  • Message 15

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    Posted by babysurfgirl (U13908626) on Wednesday, 8th April 2009

    I enjoyed listening to Sue Gehardt especially and felt confused about what the other lady's point/argument was. I also agree with Stephen when he compared parent/child to adult/adult relationships.
    I have two children and are often being told to ignore their demands, to be in control, an authority figure and to not pamper to their wants and needs by friends/strangers. Why is this suggested when the same friends would bend over backwards to please rubbish boyfriends who do not respect them. They would be upset and hurt if when they needed my attention I told them to deal with it themselves. Why can't we treat children like human beings, the way we would like to treat each other and be treated.

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  • Message 16

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    Posted by Clover-Grl (U13849075) on Wednesday, 8th April 2009

    The thing I found odd, listening to this, is that nobody was talking about their own children, except for the mother and daughter who have a difficult relationship. Wouldn't it be more balanced to have a family who are cohesive and loving who have/do use shouting?

    I for one (speaking as a 16 year old, only child, with parents still happily married) have experienced my fair share of shouting. It was never, however, directed with malice or aggression, and afterwards nothing was held against me. It was nearly always just, excepting the few times there was a genuine confusion about what I had done, and I was always given warning that my behavior was unacceptable, so I could stop without such a punishment. I have a very loving, respectful relationship with my parents, and I've had no trouble developing my own views and ideals.

    If shouting is vilified, parents are left with three possibilities: being a 'bad parent', not disciplining, or finding other methods of control. The latter two of these have clear issues. Avoiding discipline leaves a child without boundaries, which are essential to developing self-control, social awareness, and basic morals. We've all met a spoiled brat or two, and I don't think anybody can say that they have been parented well.

    The last option - other methods of discipline - seems the best. But what is the next easiest way to discipline a child after shouting? Manipulation. The biggest fear for almost any child is that their parents will stop loving them, and it is a simple fear to exploit. I've seen the effects this has had on some of my friends, and it is devastating - it erodes trust, communication, and self esteem for both parties, and it has created viciously manipulative teenagers. Making it the easiest form of discipline by maligning shouting can only do harm.

    'But what of careful communication?' I hear you cry. Well, I agree that it is essential to have parent-child communication in a healthy relationship. I do not, however, think it is effective discipline. I always knew why I shouldn't steal sweeties from the cupboard, but it didn't stop me, even when I got toothache as a result. If I hadn't been told off when I was caught, there would have been barely any incentive to curb my impulses.

    Without proper boundaries and discipline as a child, self-discipline as an adult is well nigh impossible. Taking away the authority of the parent causes more harm than shouting in nearly every case.

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  • Message 17

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    Posted by butterfly (U10650181) on Wednesday, 8th April 2009

    Not going to pretend I've never shouted, of course I have, but I'm not lying back and accepting it as something normal and inevitable – IMO it's something that I need to work at eradicating completely if possible  

    agree with the above and know when i've gone 'too far' and lost it. children know too and i feel ashamed, but it happens and it's always when we're all too tired, over excited etc. main thing is making sure the majority of time is more productive! and of course, some kinds of shouting do work and is effective for me, but i do try to keep it to a minimum.

    Re post further up concerning lack of tantrums. I'm not sure this is something to be proud of as it is a perfectly natural and necessary developemental stage in a childs life ( according to my childrens' doctor anyway! )and nothing to be ashamed of! In fact if they don't get it out of their system around age two, you wait til teenage years come along!;)

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  • Message 18

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    Posted by SarahFM4 (U13909067) on Thursday, 9th April 2009

    From Sarah - one of the programme producers. Thanks everybody for listening and sharing your thoughts. It's been really interesting reading.

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  • Message 19

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    Posted by oldmotherchicken (U13912236) on Saturday, 11th April 2009

    A thought provoking programme - I am mother and stepmother of young adults now, various courses over the years have really helped me - so agree with Stephen Scott about that.

    Re shouting - sometimes when I made the effort and spoke quietly, my kids used to say 'Youre shouting' - so it wasn't so much the volume, it was the anger behind what I said.

    When I think about when I 'lost it', often it wasnt really because of what the kids were doing, more about what was (or wasn't!) going on for me at the time.

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  • Message 20

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    Posted by distantmammoths (U13912434) on Saturday, 11th April 2009

    In that case.. what about the entire Italian nation?? In fact what about the entire mediterranean population?

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