Letter: Failing our children

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Sir: In response to Diana Appleyard's article "Give in, cop out - a mother's confession" (24 September) I suggest that not only are a growing number of children not receiving the firm guidance and socialisation they have a right to expect but that many adults are opting out of their responsibilities to guide and protect the young.

Some children learn early in their lives that the adults around them either do not care what they do, or are irritated by their behaviour but are very unlikely to take any action. They also learn the value of nagging and tantrums if the parent gives in to these strategies. Schools are presented with some children who appear lacking the most basic social skills; efforts to control their behaviour are often not supported by their parents or may even arouse hostility.

We have to move away from the notion that putting limits on children's behaviour is "authoritarian" and will make children unhappy; far from it. Young people who have behavioural difficulties often say, when asked about their parents' view of the situation, "My mum and dad don't care."

Along with this mistaken laissez-faire attitude towards children's behaviour goes a more worrying lack of general concern for them. Quite young children will indulge in bad behaviour and vandalism in public places while the adults around them simply ignore what is going on. In fact most children react quite reasonably if they are approached in a pleasant manner.

We have to learn to love our children more and to be less afraid of them.

SUZANNE TIBURTIUS

Broadstairs, Kent

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