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Status Symbols Common to Most Children. Is Miriam Stoppard being unreasonable?!

(24 Posts)
AbyIsl Wed 28-Sep-11 19:59:06

I've just read Miriam Stoppard's book 'Teach your Child', which includes the following as Status Symbols Common to Most Children:

* Material Possessions: toys and play equipment, sports equipment, clothes, collections of any kind, some books, some comics.

* Family Possessions: A nice house with a playroom, a large lawn, a nice car or cars.

* Popularity with Peers: a large number of playmates and friends.

* Athletic success: success in games and sports at any age.

* Academic success being a good reader, and among older children, good academic grades.

* Parental occupation: your occupation, especially if it carries prestige or is professional, can carry status for your child.

* Leadership roles: a leadership role played by either the child or by the parents in business or community affairs is a status symbol for the whole family.

* Autonomy: having freedom to do what they want and when they wants. Children who are brought up by overly liberal parents more often have this status symbol.

* Spending money: having lots of money always impresses peers, regardless of source.

* Earning money: a child who earns money for odd jobs gives the impression of being older than their peers and has the prestige status of being an earner.

* Travel: the more children travel and the further away from home, especially by flying, the greater the status they seem to have with their peers.

I tend to agree with everything on this list. I'm not sure if it makes for comfortable reading though! Is there anything that you'd disagree with, or add to the list? Does it all vary depending on the age of the child? My DC are too young to appreciate a nice car, for example.

LaWeasel Wed 28-Sep-11 20:02:56

What's the context, I'm a bit confused?

AKMD Wed 28-Sep-11 20:03:12

Maybe for children from relatively wealthy backgrounds.

I don't know many people who have a 'play room' and I doubt most children in this area would know what that meant.

Academic success: up until 8/9 yes, after that being clever is not at all cool and children get bullied mercilessly for constantly getting top marks, all the way up until A-levels (state school).

activate Wed 28-Sep-11 20:04:23

a "status symbol" is a vaccuous symbol by it's very nature

I agree that they are all "status symbols" at different stages of people's lives but they are immature and people grow out of valuing others on what they have rather than who they are - people who are worth knowing anyway

AbyIsl Wed 28-Sep-11 20:06:10

It's in a chapter entitled "Your Child and School". It's just explaining a bit about peer pressure and what can help children to feel secure.

Yes, I thought it was based on wealthy folk too, which I why it made me feel a bit uncomfortable. I agreed with the list, but I thought it was a bit exclusive.

AbyIsl Wed 28-Sep-11 20:07:11

I wish I had your faith. activate. I read that list and thought of a few of my (adult) friends and neighbours!

Georgimama Wed 28-Sep-11 20:07:31

I don't understand, which is probably because I haven't read this book. Are you saying these are things all children have (because that is patently untrue) or all things that at different times children hold in esteem? Because I'd agree with the second.

LaWeasel Wed 28-Sep-11 20:07:55

I mean to say... yes, at some points in life these things will seem important but they obviously aren't a key to happiness or popularity.

For example, at my school the most popular people were the ones who were genuinely nice to everyone but were confident and happy too. Purely because they never pissed anyone off. Whereas kids that ticked all the boxes of the above list might have a quiche around them, but they tended to have more obvious character flaws so weren't universally popular and were much more likely to have several other people actively dislike them.

Bonsoir Wed 28-Sep-11 20:08:09

I agree with the list, though some of the things (eg a large lawn) do not feature in certain settings.

Where my DD goes to school, the number of languages a child speaks is a major status symbol, albeit with the usual hierarchy of languages attached.

Good looks are also a status symbol.

AbyIsl Wed 28-Sep-11 20:08:14

It's things that children hold in esteem, I think.

Georgimama Wed 28-Sep-11 20:08:18

I can't agree that valuing for example, travel or having access to age appropriate toys and games is vacuous. Important and valuable aids to development, I would say.

Bonsoir Wed 28-Sep-11 20:09:52

Travel can be a bit vacuous. My DSS1 is very imbued with travel status symbolism but he doesn't have to travel anywhere educationally or spiritually uplifting to get kudos.

AbyIsl Wed 28-Sep-11 20:10:18

LaWeasel - they have a quiche around them?? Wow, that is impressive! grin

I agree re. good looks. I wonder if the number of languages would be included in the academic success area?

cory Wed 28-Sep-11 20:12:15

Not sure that these always apply.

The recent UNICEF comparison/in depth interviews of children in 3 different countries (UK, Spain, Sweden) confirmed something I remember from my childhood: that having too many possessions/too much money to throw around can be associated with being spoilt which is seen as a negative thing.

Academic success is not a key to social status in all schools: it can single you out and cause bullying.

And having parents with professional status in a school where most parents are working class or out of work is no guarantee of popularity either. Being the son of the headteacher or vicar doesn't necessarily make you popular.

LaWeasel Wed 28-Sep-11 20:13:59


quiche = clique on MN.

I do think context means so much, at my primary school sporting achievement would have meant much much more than what you had/did (it was a very don't boast kind of place, possibly because most people were pretty wealthy) or academic achievement.

Georgimama Wed 28-Sep-11 20:18:18

I still don't think there is anything wrong with valuing those things, as long as you are aware that having them doesn't make someone a better person. Just a fortunate one.

Bonsoir Wed 28-Sep-11 20:21:09

Number of languages doesn't have much to do with academics - I'm talking about little children who have learned a lot of languages because they have plurilingual families (mostly).

ElderberrySyrup Wed 28-Sep-11 20:26:34

where I live (rural), animals are a status symbol. One boy has a sheep which the others are quite impressed by; the best one is a donkey though.

RedHotPokers Wed 28-Sep-11 20:30:18

Only one status symbol for my DD and her friends (5-6yo): the biggest, loudest, most manic birthday party - preferably at local soft play, with a giant birthday cake!

CurrySpice Wed 28-Sep-11 20:34:44

My Dd1 who is 11 says the ones that count are the material possessions, the popularity, athletic success and having freedom

Depressingly she says that academic success doesn't count sad

She says parental occupation and family posessions don't count!

ElderberrySyrup Wed 28-Sep-11 20:34:50

another one in our village (you're probably getting the picture....): being related to a large number of people in the village/school.

Dirtydishesmakemesad Wed 28-Sep-11 20:38:35

I think it really does depend on where you live. Where I live most of the things on the list dont apply for example, nice house with a playroom, lawn etc. Most people here are low income most live in flats or small terraced houses. Not a single one of any of my childrens friends (or anyone I know) would be described as living in a large house with a lawn and playroom. If someone came along who did I dont think the other children would care tbh it is so rare.

PommePoire Wed 28-Sep-11 20:49:20

Further anecdotal evidence for the regional variations of status symbols. I taught in state secondary schools in Inner and Greater London and in rural Norfolk. In the former, a student having their own (or regular access to) any form of transport e.g bike, moped, motor cycle, car, as age appropriate, was held in greatest esteem. Although, the rare sixth formers who had cars bought for them as birthday presents were thought spoilt brats. In Norfolk, the boys that all the girls considered to be cool, were those who were really good at fishing. I was surprised by this, especially as some students had motorcycles, but no, it was the anglers who seemed to have the greatest kudos.

DilysPrice Wed 28-Sep-11 20:58:06

I think there's a level beyond which all but the youngest children will think "they're just spoiled brats". If everyone in a class has a big garden with a trampoline then the one with a swimming pool will have status. If most of the class live in flats then the one with a poky back garden will have status but the one with a huge lawn and a swimming pool will be ostracised (unless they invite the others round for frequent pool parties).

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