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Poorer children twice as likely to start school with behaviour problems

(47 Posts)
BetsyBoop Tue 02-Nov-10 11:49:04

so says the sutton trust

Surely it isn't just me that thinks that behaviour problems are down to poor parenting skills, not a lack of money?

Yes there is probably a higher concentration of parents with poor parenting skill in lower income households for all sorts of reasons, but poor family does NOT have to equal misbehaving kids IMHO, and it's an insult to poor families who bring up their children "properly" to suggest it is.

I heard it first on radio 4 today programme. Frank Field talks some sense, but I'm not sure it should be down to schools to teach parenting skills.

thisisyesterday Tue 02-Nov-10 11:50:19

well that'ws why they say they're more likely, not that they definitely will

for the reasons you state.

BetsyBoop Tue 02-Nov-10 13:49:21

the report is saying it is more likely because they are poor

I'm saying saying it is more likely because there is higher concentration of poor parenting skills in poorer families

not the same thing at all

i.e. I don't believe that if you gave every poor family a wad of money the problem would disappear overnight, as it isn't a lack of money that is causing the problem IMHO.

EdgarAirbombPoe Tue 02-Nov-10 13:54:17

there has been quite a bit on R4 about this....

i sort of agree.

isn't this what Surestart was intended to address?

SumfingNew Tue 02-Nov-10 14:00:25

BetsyBoop - you're quite right. If you gave every poor family some money some of them would spend it stupidly, some would spend it wisely, some would save it.

I think we should stop seeing people as 'poor' or 'middle class' and see them as 'people'...some of whom make excellent parents and many of whom do not.

BadgersPaws Tue 02-Nov-10 14:52:11

"I think we should stop seeing people as 'poor' or 'middle class' and see them as 'people'...some of whom make excellent parents and many of whom do not."

But if all we did was to look at "people" then the problems caused by relative "poverty" wouldn't be noticed. For example this claim that poorer children are more likely to have behavioural problems than richer ones would not have come about if we didn't see people as belonging to some "income group".

nella2 Tue 02-Nov-10 20:06:34

I think parenting slips when people are stressed - for whatever reason. We are not poor but have had behaviour issues recently - probably due to one family death, another family member with cancer. Think it's not being poor, it's the stress that not having enough to manage with brings.

ForMashGetSmash Tue 02-Nov-10 20:12:10

If you are poor in the UK then you are more at risk rom all kinds of unfortunate things...drug abuse, domestic abuse, ill-health, depression...the list goes on. That is a fact...therefore it is a definate that the children of poorer parents are more at risk from being parented badly...because parents suffering from the above are more likely to be unable to offer their child the support they might have if they did not suffer the ill-effects which being poor CAN result in...not that it ALWAYS does....but it can do.

So it IS more likely they will begin school with behavioural problems because they are poor.

merrymouse Tue 02-Nov-10 21:47:37

I have no clue, but I think it is much harder to parent when you have no money. I know that my children need a certain number of hours running around outside each day. For me this means going to the really nice park near us, or getting in the car and driving to a really nice park. In an emergency it means chucking them in our not huge, but adequate garden. I couldn't do this if we lived in a high rise in the middle of an estate.

I also know that my parenting skills are better when I don't have other stresses, and in an emergency, they tend to fall by the wayside a bit.

I can also feed my children more expensive food that they like to ensure they eat healthily.

In conclusion, I think that if you are poor, you need really good parenting skills more of the time to cope with the additional challenges.

On the other hand, if you are amazingly rich you can have a nanny for each child and just invite your children onto your yacht occasionally - no skills required at all!

cory Tue 02-Nov-10 22:02:43

Agree with nella. And it is not just the stress suffered by the actual family; it is also the surroundings. A child who is brought up in a neighbourhood where there is violence, things are regularly being broken, there is lots of loud shouting and swearing and they see people hurting each other- well would you be surprised if such a child displayed some symptoms of stress or disruptive behaviour even if the family were excellent parents.

Even my best parenting was not sufficient to stop ds from showing his distress when he found out (by accident) that his beloved sports instructor had been murdered by her boyfriend. Fortunately, this was one isolated incident, not at all typical of the life he leads, and he got over it. But if he lived in an area where there was a high level of violence and disruption (even if I was the same mother I have always been), then I would expect it to take him longer to get over things (if he ever did).

Litchick Wed 03-Nov-10 08:55:51

I agree Cory.
If you are poor you ofetn find yourself living in a deprived area where all manner of poor behaviours are common and deemed every day.

I was brought up on a sink estate ( the type the police avoid) and my Mum really had to battle against the tide to bring me up how she perceived best.

That's why I simply do not accept the oft quoted MN soundbite that a clever child can do well anywhere. Don't buy it. It is very very hard to swim against the prevailing tide of attitudes and behaviour.

SumfingNew Fri 05-Nov-10 13:57:53

Relative poverty is cover for the politics of envy.

People who that think relative poverty is important (as opposed to absolute, of which there is almost none in the UK) believe that my winning the Euromillions lottery tonight will make them poorer.

PaisleyLeaf Fri 05-Nov-10 14:03:06

Good point about stress nella2

BadgersPaws Fri 05-Nov-10 14:28:54

"People who that think relative poverty is important (as opposed to absolute, of which there is almost none in the UK) believe that my winning the Euromillions lottery tonight will make them poorer."

Relative Poverty, which I agree is a political tool, doesn't necessary work like that.

If you have an over the median income then you can get as many massive pay rises, lottery wins or bonuses as you like and you won't shift that median income one penny in either direction.

If you're earning over the median income then you suddenly getting millions will only shift the median income if the person who was next in line above you in the orderings as earning more than you were.

Relative Poverty is really quite a daft calculation.

doodlebug113 Fri 05-Nov-10 17:09:25

Agree with Cory, Nella and Litchick. There's a whole host of social problems that come with poverty. No matter how good your parenting skills it takes an awful lot to overide these.

FreudianSlimmery Fri 05-Nov-10 17:18:49

I do feel sad that my children are almost written off because we are very low income. However we do have access to things like SureStart so can't complain really.

onimolap Fri 05-Nov-10 17:26:10

One of the strongest correlations to children's outcomes (whatever that means), is level of maternal education.

Is it possible that the causality (if any) lies the other way round? The family is poor because the parents are ill-educated; the children do less well for the same reason?

[Note: that was meant at a population-level, not individual families whose circumstances/attitude/behaviour can vary within, or totally outlie, the group].

BetsyBoop Fri 05-Nov-10 20:02:34

I've often tried (and failed) to work out what has changed from when DH & I grew up (both mid 60s babies) and now.

We were both from very poor families, all our parents left school at 14 with no qualifications. DH was first in his family to go on to higher education, I was second in mine (my elder brother beat me to it!)

DH grew up on what is now a really rough council estate (MIL still lives a couple of streets from where he was born) but MIL/DH tell me it wasn't always like that, yes there were a couple of "rough" families but most were hard working poor families with parents who pushed the "doing well at school is your way out of this" line.

On the same estate now a sizeable percentage are disfunctional/fractured/never-worked families/single mothers where the kids have a new "father" every other month/drug abusers/alcoholics/you name it. They make life hell for the "decent" residents on the estate. There is no wonder that some of the kids dragged brought up in these circumstances struggle.

What caused that change? Why is there a greater percentage of problems in "poor" areas now than when DH & I were growing up? We need to solve the root cause of the problem, and I still don't think throwing money at it will necessarily solve it.

usualsuspect Fri 05-Nov-10 20:06:48

I find its the opposite on the council estate where I live ...nearly all of my ds's friends have gone on to do a levels etc ..

BetsyBoop Fri 05-Nov-10 21:06:25

that's good to hear usualsuspect - Being poor was never an insurmountable barrier when DH & I grew up, so it's good to know it's not necessarily the case now either.

(not implying that everyone on a council estate is "poor" of course, but hopefully you know what I mean, no offence intended, I hope none taken?)

usualsuspect Fri 05-Nov-10 21:10:18

I do get slightly offended by the assumption that council estate kids have no aspirations I can only speak for where I live though ..<chip on shoulder> grin

Catsitter Fri 05-Nov-10 22:34:21

A relative was brought up on a sink estate (one the police still avoid). They were very poor as in hardly any money for basics, plus her parents, whilst at least not unloving or violent, sought to escape their problems through drink. In short her upbringing was terrible, dragged up would be the term. She had no education and left school early.

She now has liquid assets worth £1m and lives a very comfortable life. She might be uneducated but golly she was/is sharp and started her own business at 24 (in a very humble fashion, not by going to the bank, getting a loan and renting a shop or anything so posh!) which she was able to build on.

I do believe that against all the odds, some clever children from very poor backgrounds can make it. Sadly if they do it often has to be on their own rather than in employment and relies more on an innate business sense than adademia.

She believes that all parents, but particularly those from poor areas, should be made to attend parenting classes as she sees this as the key to changing the repeat pattern. Her belief is that it's ignorance of how things could or should be that inhibit a lot of people from being better parents, rather than willingly being crap parents on purpose as such.

usualsuspect Fri 05-Nov-10 23:09:32

I don't believe that poor parents = bad parents

fsmail Fri 05-Nov-10 23:16:33

I agree with usualsuspect and was involved with an inner city school in a really deprived area and the kids were lovely, far less gobby than the kids in the middle-class area that I also taught at also a friend is the deputy head at a very deprived inner city school and their results are fantastic but in some areas where friends have taught in deprived areas, it is difficult to get parents to go to parents evening because their lack of interest in educating their kids is so low. There are also problems with drink and drugs which will have an impact on behaviour.

edam Fri 05-Nov-10 23:22:23

Is it lack of interest, or is it experience of being treated like shit by people in authority making them cynical about anyone in such a position? Or bad experience of education themselves, leaving them without the skills that middle class people have for communicating with teachers?

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