Frank Field suggests 'tough love' parenting

(23 Posts)
melpomene Tue 12-Oct-10 13:51:21

Article here

The descriptions in the article are rather confused. I've always understood the concept of 'tough love' as something that applied more to older children / wayward teenagers than under 5s.

I was also hmm at the part which states "There were children starting school in his constituency who did not know their own name". If that is true (which I find hard to believe) then surely the problem is extreme neglect, rather than a lack of boundaries? Or does it mean that they knew their first name but not their surname, or didn't know how to WRITE their name?

I heard him discussing this on women's hour today.

I agree that we do need to prioritise early years as poor children rarely catch up once they're so far behind at age 5.

I have a friend who is a teacher in a deprived area and she has told me of children who dont know their name ( as in they dont respond to it when the teacher says it in class), cant count to 1 and dont know any colours when they start school.

There are so many children now who start school totally unprepared, who cant sit still, who cant hold a pencil and have literally NEVER been told 'no'. They have never fed themselves nor dressed/undressed themselves.

Nursery from age 2/3 should be compulsory IMO.

NotAnotherBrick Tue 12-Oct-10 21:21:43

You have got to be kidding me, foreverastudent!? Compulsory nursery from age 2/3!?!?!? shock

FFS! If that had been the case before I got pregnant, I wouldn't have had children at all.

I agree with him that that boundaries need to be set and there does need to be intervention to help.

However, I don't think sure start is the best way to achieve this - our sure start centres are set up in our 'poorer' areas and the drop-in centres, child clubs and courses are full of (dare I say it) middle-class well off mums ... with little benefit going to the families on the estates (purpose of these centres)

(I hope the above is properly phrased .... )

TheCrackFox Tue 12-Oct-10 21:28:13

Tough love would be exactly the wrong thing to do to a child who doesn't know his/her name. They need extra love and care to try and recover from extreme neglect.

Compulsory nursery. No, that is a terrible idea.

NotAnotherBrick Tue 12-Oct-10 21:32:32

Actually, even though I consider myself to be an extremely liberal parent, I actually agree with what he's saying, when you read it carefully. He says boundaries but, within those boundaries, lots of freedom. I think (in fact, would go so far as to say 'know' rather than 'think') it's possible to teach your children what social boundaries are without having to coerce them in any way at all - including using punishments and rewards. But I totally believe children do need that guidance of what is acceptable and what isn't.

I know children whose parents intentionally allow them all the freedom in the world, and never say to them 'but that sort of noise is not fair on the other people here' (for example) because they think it's stifling to them. I dont' think you need to go as far as saying 'stop making that noise or you'll have ot go on the naughty step' but I would be saying ot mine 'that's too noisy for here, as there are other people we need to take account of. If you want to make that much noise, then do it outside/we'll go home. If you want to stay here then you need to be quieter'. It's not difficult.

Saritasmum Wed 13-Oct-10 10:15:01

I agree totally with you NotAnotherBrick. I never shout at the Pickle - worst case scenario normally is to threaten to put on a cross voice and she stops any unacceptable behaviour. She is quite clear as to what is acceptable and what is not and is as good as gold most of the time. (but what have I done to myself putting it in print - it may go horribly wrong now!)

Saritasmum Wed 13-Oct-10 10:16:04

I agree totally with you NotAnotherBrick. I never shout at the Pickle - worst case scenario normally is to threaten to put on a cross voice and she stops any unacceptable behaviour. She is quite clear as to what is acceptable and what is not and is as good as gold most of the time. (but what have I done to myself putting it in print - it may go horribly wrong now!)

Unprune Wed 13-Oct-10 10:20:27

There are a good number of cultures where your given name is hardly used, and there is either a system of short names that are to us unrecognisable as being related to the given name (eg Polish), or there's a codified system of different names that is culturally significant (I know this happens in Buddhist cultures but iirc some African cultures too).

I think it's entirely possible that a 4/5 yr old could not respond to the name on their birth certificate. He might be talking about neglect but he might be talking about cultural ignorance as well.

bullet234 Wed 13-Oct-10 10:30:52

"I have a friend who is a teacher in a deprived area and she has told me of children who dont know their name ( as in they dont respond to it when the teacher says it in class), cant count to 1 and dont know any colours when they start school.

There are so many children now who start school totally unprepared, who cant sit still, who cant hold a pencil and have literally NEVER been told 'no'. They have never fed themselves nor dressed/undressed themselves.

Nursery from age 2/3 should be compulsory IMO."

Ds2 is 5, been at school, been at school fulltime since September. He knows his name but can't say it. He can't count, possibly has a basic grasp of colours (sometimes seems to colour sort), can hold a pencil but can't use it, can use a spoon but often refuses a fork, can't dress himself. He often can't keep still and will loudly vocalise (he has only a very few words) at all points of the school day, no matter what is happening.
But he does have fairly severe autism and despite being told "no" when he's been naughty and given boundaries and despite attending toddler group, then playgroup, then special needs nursery he still has major difficulties with showing he understands and with interacting with people. All the boundaries and also all the talking, playing, reading and general interacting with him did not stop him presenting as he does.

vess Wed 13-Oct-10 11:09:10

Maybe not compulsory but free and available nursery from the age of 2/3?

The kind of children he is talking about will benefit from... well, any kind of parenting really.
Surestart centres can never be the answer to this, and not because of the middle class mums - the problem is you have to be interested in parenting in the first place to take your child there.

wasuup3000 Wed 13-Oct-10 11:35:29

Frank Fields constituency has larger than average of the population many deprived families/people, lots of social housing, prevalent crime/youth problems and drug use as the norm. There are of course many families in his area who don't meet this criteria.
I guess however that is the viewpoint that he is talking from taking in his experience.

Callisto Wed 13-Oct-10 14:12:06

Compulsory nursery? There are not the words to express how terrible an idea I think this is.

SazzaBlackIsland Thu 14-Oct-10 21:05:44

Frank Field has his heart and his head in the right place. Of course toddlers require boundaries and routine, as well as love and security. It isn't all about money. What parents of young children most need though is confidence and TIME. Modern life seems to deny them both. For this reason I'm not convinced earlier compulsory nursery is the answer. We've had universal pre-school provision for over a decade in the UK and still children from less advantaged backgrounds are starting school significantly behind their peers. Should policy makers first be asking whether our system of provision is "fit for purpose"? Second, should they then remind themselves what pre-school is actually for? Something to benefit children or somewhere for children to go to enable their parents to work? Pre-school education is not the same as childcare (in my opinion). Delivering quality education for any age group requires qualified teachers. Anything less will not deliver improved outcomes.

huddspur Thu 14-Oct-10 22:15:16

I agree with Frank Field and I think its one of the main reasons why people from higher socio-economic groups outperform those from lower ones. They come from homes where there are rules and they learn to accept the authority of adults ie. parents/teachers so they are more attentive in school and so tend to learn more.

ColdComfortFarm Thu 14-Oct-10 22:22:51

I heard him in a radio discussion and was extremely impressed by his manner, intelligence and his message. He was clearly motivated by compassion and humanitarianism. He was talking to someone from SureStart very knowledgeably. He has done his research, and wants the best for children. I think what is happening to many children is nothing short of a tragedy. By 'boundaries' he means stuff like setting bedtimes, not offering Kentucky fried chicken for every meal or letting kids merely forage for sweets, teaching basic social skills and saying stuff like 'be kind' and 'no hitting'. He is not talking about beating kids and putting them in the cellar! And of course it is different for children with severe autism. One of my children has an ASD and was using a buggy for school library visits at five, but I still agree with what he says.

cory Fri 15-Oct-10 09:22:23

What we need imho is not compulsory nurseries, but what they have in Scandinavia: affordable, high quality nurseries with an emphasis on teaching life skills in the early years. Nurseries where they play outdoors, learn to prepare their own lunch, practise crafts, as well as more verbal activities.

But still with the option of taking out a child who is simply to young for an institutional setting. Or letting a child spend that time with their family if you know you have something good to offer as a family. One thing I like about Swedish nurseries is their flexibility- my db has occasionally rung them in the morning and told them he is keeping his boys at home because it is a fine day and he has a day off work, and they are absolutely fine with that. The nursery fees were low enough for him to feel he could do that.

Both my children attended preschool and spent two afternoons a week with a highly competent and ambitious childminder (doubt any nursery could provide better). It still didn't mean ds was physically ready to hold a pen by age 5.

cory Fri 15-Oct-10 09:35:17

Of course you can see where Frank Field is coming from. The problem is, you can draw this argument out in absurdum: it must be easy enough, looking round his constituency, to get the feeling that some of those children would do an awful lot better if they were not being raised by those particular parents. Fair enough and no doubt very true. But what is the answer to be? To take all children into care immediately after they are born?

When the school starting age was lowered in this country from 5 to 4, the social argument was one that was often raised: we must get them early to undo the damage done to them by their parents. But have the attainment gaps grown less? No, they haven't. It is difficult to see how you can get round the fact that the most important influence on any child is going to be their parents. Because whatever the nursery does, most children are going to identify with their own families. Unless you totally take them away and raise them in some kind of kibbutz setting.

MrsThisIsTheCadillacOfNailguns Fri 15-Oct-10 14:47:34

cory,my NT middle class dd1 couldn't hold a pencil when she started school either.She started the day after her 4th birthday,so was very young.She'd been to pre school for 2 years,but never was interested in writing and at 3, I wasn't going to insist she practice when she should have been playing.

I see NC agrees with me about nursery for 2 yo's www.google.com/hostednews/ukpress/article/ALeqM5g- i-EvvR00jiuWF20q0Wx3TPk-xA?docId=N0279151287077411 735A as a way to tackle deprivation and inequality. grin

lostinafrica Fri 15-Oct-10 20:07:02

Breakdown of society...! (Gosh, I'm getting old and cynical.)

Why do these parents not have older, wiser friends or relatives who can give them some support in the noble art of parenting? Or do they just not listen because why should they do anything which isn't easy or fun?

lostinafrica Fri 15-Oct-10 20:12:08

Compulsory nursery - no, no, no. Clegg's plan of free nursery places offered to poorest 2yos - very good.

bank Tue 19-Oct-10 20:55:43

what about brining back a decent health visiting service ? this would help at the earliest stage and would target the most deprived children

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