Sunday, June 29, 2008

Coddle Them Not

An article in the Telegraph today suggests that a gradual backlash is brewing against the 'all must have prizes' culture. Thank goodness, I say. I think it says more about the people who brought about the idea that no little darling should be thwarted than about the merits of the idea itself.

Can't you just imagine all those frustrated little losers who have grown up vowing revenge on coming last now bossing everyone into believing that children should never be allowed to lose?

I was not a loser at school but never felt I was unduly mistreated when I didn't come first in something, which was often. Dealing with frustration is an important lesson and it's best to learn it young. The shock will come in the big nasty adult world where you don't get a medal for turning up on time or sitting a full ten minutes in your seat without getting up or throwing your pencil at your neighbour.

Neither am I at my kids' beck and call. We do things together, but I also leave them to their own devices and ignore them when I'm busy with something else. Yesterday I spent much of the day in bed as I was feeling poorly. Did they whine and moan that they were bored? No, they just got on doing exactly what they wanted and I didn't care what it was as long as it was quiet. However, I do make it a mission to ensure they know all about frustration. The better they can deal with it now, the more they'll understand that it's not the end of the world if they don't get their own way later.

The mollycoddling method of child rearing is perverse in its concept. If you consider that rearing a child is all about preparing it for adulthood, what worse method is there than constantly telling him or her that she is the greatest thing since sliced bread and no one is allowed to think otherwise. How could this possibly be a brilliant idea? I'm all for helping a child believe in himself, having confidence and being brave, but you won't do that by synthetic methods such as always praising, certificates for holding a knife right, or uncompetitive sports. They know something is not right and hopefully despise it as much as any right-minded person.

You'll get adults in years to come describing how they survived their mollycoddled childhoods just like kids did in those years when corporal punishment was the norm.

I'm consoled by the fact that a mother's place is in the wrong, so whatever we do, they'll undoubtedly throw it back at us in years to come, so while I'm at it, a good dose of benign neglect will save my sanity and hopefully not ruin theirs.


  1. Hear hear. I also can't stand this whole idea of parents wanting to be their child's friend. I tell my kids "I'm not here to be popular, that's not my job"!

  2. You're absolutely right.

  3. You've hit the nail on the head there. My biggest problems at work are with children whose parents behave like that. What happened to that beloved parent phrase: "Because I say so"?


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