Leading the debate on childhood anxiety
Junk food, on-screen entertainment and lack of time spent with the adults are being blamed as experts say we put too much pressure on children to grow up quickly.
This is just one side of a debate, which touches on the morals of our fast-pace society, the responsibilities of parents, government and care-givers in a child’s upbringing, and the help and support which is offered to families with children. Above all, this debate is about you and your children! So take part, tell us how things work in your own family, how you spend time together, and how you tackle tricky issues like healthy eating and time in front of the TV.
Does modern life lead to more depression among children?
A group of concerned academics and child experts have come together to open a public debate on childhood anxiety and depression (The Daily Telegraph letters, 12th September 2006). At school, they say children are under more and more pressure to get results in a demanding, test-driven education which leaves less room for play. At home, they worry that computer games and TV-watching have become substitutes for spending time with parents and hands-on, creative play. And in society generally, the experts are concerned that children are under constant pressure to act, dress, eat and think like grown-ups.
Whilst the experts say they recognise that parents are alert to the physical danger of their children, their letter encourages us to pay attention to our children’s mental health which they think is suffering from being constantly fast-tracked.
In their view, parents and policy-makers alike have lost sight of what our children need and must open an immediate public debate on child-rearing to stem the rising tide of childhood depression.
They are strong words. Are we really failing to take on board how children develop? Wouldn’t all parents agree that, in an ideal world, children need ‘real food’ and ‘real play’ and, in the form of one-to-one time, ‘real adults’ for a healthy development? Breaking down the points raised, we see familiar territory emerge in a wider debate on family life.
The work-life balance: spending quality time with your kids
With the ever-increasing financial demands on family life, work-life balance preoccupies parents more and more. One source puts the cost of rearing your child in the UK at £3000 per year, or £50,000 by the time he’s 17. Mums are under increasing financial pressure to go back to work early, and feel social demands too, as the longer they spend looking after baby, the less likely it is that they will go back to a job at the same level or wage.
These are just some of the issues which go through a parent's mind, but the corporate world’s attitude to working parents and the government’s policy on childcare are also major points to consider in this area of the debate.
Just say no: can discipline stop them wanting things?
Is the real issue just that we’ve forgotten how to say ‘no’ to our children, allowing them the latest trainers or to sit for hours online gaming? Or should the onus be on the government and business to make sure that, for example, clothing ads are well targeted and junk food isn’t the only option on the school menu. The truth may be that there is a role for parents, care givers and the government here, and discussion needs to bring out how each can best work together to ease the anxiety some children may feel in response to the stress put upon them.
This debate needs YOU!
This debate involves anyone who’s in a family, anyone who has a child in school and any parent who goes out to work. It involves law-makers, government, and the professionals who care for our children. It involves you, and we need to hear your voice on these issues, so sign in to our forum on Childhood Depression, tell us your views on our children’s lives, why you hold them and how you think we could help turn the tide.