Fears of ‘brat-ocracy’ in child-centered Sweden
- By Tom Sullivan 15 hours ago
Stockholm (AFP) – Sweden had a head start in the good parenting debate as the first country to outlaw smacking but some argue that its child-centered approach has gone too far and children now rule the roost.
“In some ways Swedish kids are really ill-mannered,” David Eberhard, a leading psychiatrist and father of six, told AFP.
“They shout if there are adults speaking at the dinner table, they interrupt you all the time and they demand the same space as adults.”
Eberhard recently published a book entitled “How Children Took Power” which argues that over the years Swedes have effectively extended their 1979 smacking ban — now adopted in more than 30 countries — to a ban on correcting children in any way.
“Of course you should listen to your children but in Sweden it’s gone too far. They tend to decide everything in families: when to go to bed, what to eat, where to go on vacation, even what to watch on television,” he said, adding that the permissive approach to child-raising leaves young Swedes ill-equipped for adulthood.
“Their expectations are too high and life is too hard for them. We see it with anxiety disorders and self harming which has risen dramatically.”
… Nonetheless, there is a lively debate about how the approach has influenced schools with falling grades and complaints about rowdy classrooms.
“Two boys were swearing at each other — I didn’t think 7-year-olds even knew words like that — and when I tried to intervene they swore at me and told me to mind my own business,” said Ola Olofsson, a journalist at a southern Swedish newspaper, describing a visit to his 7-year-old daughter’s classroom.
When he wrote a column about the chaos he witnessed at the school, the paper’s website was inundated with hundreds of comments from exasperated parents and teachers.
… One preschool teacher from Stockholm wrote that the 4- and 5-year-olds she teaches regularly say “You think I care!” when asked to do something.
“Just the other day a 4-year-old spat at me when I asked him to stop climbing on some shelves,” she added.