I first heard of 'Sue Palmer' when I attended a conference, in London, in 2004 - Modern Parenting. Sue was a keynote speaker. She was talking about parenting and raising children in the 'Modern' world.At the time I didn't/couldn't really relate to the overall issue as I had no children of my own. But her descriptions of how children are be labelled more readily (ADHD/Autism etc.), are obese at a young age and know little about the world around them shocked me. I guess I stored away these thoughts in my sub-conscious hoping I'd dig them out when I became a parent. Fast forward to 2006, pregnant and eager to read all I could on 'parenting' I stumbled across a book 'Toxic Childhood' by Sue Palmer
Those thoughts stored away came flooding back and I enjoyed reading every page! But also as an expecting mother it panicked me a lot! How could I make sure I gave my child the best start? How could I be sure I didn't expose my child to this 'toxicity'? ARRRGGHH!!!!
Six years on, many books read, many theories thought through and I still agree wholeheartedly with Sue Palmer's research and theories. That's why I have chosen to share some of that research, advice and theory with you here! Over the next few Sundays I will try to review Sue's book 'Detoxing Childhood'. Her follow up to Toxic Childhood, an 'antidote' to toxic child syndrome!
So here we go.
Let's start with exploring the idea of 'Toxic Childhood'. I don't know about you but when I think about the word 'toxic' I think of chemical spillage, nuclear waste, poison, harmful...... just yuck! But put this with 'childhood' and it just doesn't compute! However, when you look hard at the modern world and what children are exposed to it is 'toxic'.
Children's brains are 'developing' rather than 'developed'. They can not keep up with the fast pace of modern life. Life today is so switched on, it's 24 hours, seven days a week. Think back to the time (probably only 20 years ago!) of just 4 (UK) channels on the TV. Channels that 'switched' off at a set time in the evening. A time when most homes had one or maybe 2 phones (attached by a cable to the wall) and writing letters was the norm! Often women were at home with their children too. Now I'm not trying to aggravate feminist with this statement, just noting facts.
Children's needs haven't changed in these 20 years. They still need real food- not junk, real play- not electronic, exploration of the world around them using their senses- not TV stimulation and they need real interactions, with real people. Think hard about the modern world, are these needs wholeheartedly being met???
School work is more formal from an earlier age. Responsibilities are given earlier, children dress like mini adults who send emails to friends rather than talk, chat on MSN rather than play with toys and 'can't do homework as they are using up their free minutes on their Iphone'!
Children's emotional intelligence is being damaged and their social needs left unmet. Does it shock you that in 2007 a UNICEF report found that 'British children are the most unhappiest in the developed world'? WHAT??!!!! How did that happen???? So we are 5 years on, but has that statistic really changed?
We call our country part of the developed world. Developed as in;
- It's 'great' that a 3 yr old can send a text? (as seen on a Facebook status lately!)
- A 6 yr old was sent home from school for wearing 'fake' nails and high heels.
- Many children label 'chicken nuggets from McDonalds' as a healthy food.
Hmmmmmmmmmmm! Let's not respond just yet!
Below is a clip from Sue Palmer explaining her take on 'Toxic Childhood'. Have a watch.......
Over the next few Sunday posts I will look at the three areas Sue outlines in her book (Detoxing Childhood) that need addressing.
1- Detoxing parenting
2-Detoxing Childcare and Education
3-Detoxing the Electronic Village
Why not grab yourself a copy of the book (details on my recommended books list) and read with me!