London - Parents are raising a generation of “little Buddhas” who never lift a finger around the house, a teachers’ leader declared.
Children are growing up constantly demanding their own way because they are “waited on hand and foot” by over- indulgent parents, said Dr Mary Bousted.
They arrive at school with an “I’m important” attitude and struggle to abide by rules and timetables.
Youngsters also lash out at classmates because they fail to understand they have responsibilities towards others.
Dr Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said schools are forced to deal with the consequences of parents’ failure to lay down clear boundaries.
“How many parents ask their children regularly to contribute to the running of the household, doing jobs?” she asked.
“It seems to me that far too many children are waited on, hand and foot. They don’t do the washing up, they don’t do the hoovering, they don’t make their own beds. We’re not doing our children any favours if we make them little Buddhas at home, and it certainly doesn’t do them any favours in school.”
Dr Bousted told the ATL’s annual conference in Manchester that children too often treated teachers like “servants” and squabbled with fellow pupils.
“They expect to get what they want immediately and do not understand that there are other children in the class and the school who need the attention.
“And they don’t understand their responsibilities towards adults, that adults are not there to serve them. They are there in school to safeguard and to teach them. But teachers and support staff are not children’s servants.”
Middle-class parents who fail to impose clear boundaries simply “buy off their children expensively” - with the latest computer games, smartphones and other gadgets.
“Bad behaviour isn’t just the preserve of poor children and parents,” added Dr Bousted. “It occurs among all classes of society.” She said parents needed to be more confident in laying down reasonable expectations of children - including completing basic household chores.
“In my view a child or adolescent who doesn’t understand proper boundaries is very unhappy.
“Children need boundaries in order to feel safe. Children without boundaries at home resent boundaries imposed at school.
“We need to be more confident as a society in saying, ‘No, you can go so far but no further. You can have this, but not this.’”
Without this discipline, children grow up with an attitude to life which says: “I’m important, I am an island to myself”, said Dr Bousted.
“School is the place where children and young people enter civil society really for the first time.
“If everyone just did what they wanted in school, it would be chaos. There are rules, there’s a timetable, there are ways we have to behave towards a teacher and, crucially, towards other children.”
Experts claim that society’s increasingly child-centric approach to parenting has made mothers and fathers over-anxious.
They are so keen to ensure their children are happy that they are unable to allow them to be bored or fed up, even for a moment.
Dr Bousted insisted: “The vast majority of parents and children do a very good job. The issue is the effect of the minority is utterly disproportionate. It is a hard job being a parent.”
A survey by ATL, published last week, found that 57 percent of teachers believe pupils’ behaviour has deteriorated over the last five years.
A third said they had dealt with violence during the current academic year - mostly directed at fellow pupils. - Daily Mail