Monday September 7th, 2015

Damned children


More and more seem to think that children are given too much freedom and too much power.

In the documentary “Damned kids” Erik Sandberg describes how the old ideas about child nurture has come back in the nursery and classrooms. Politicians and commentators requires that the adult world regains power. It is time to put limits.

Reward system is important when Trollhättan Municipality organizes courses for parents. Children who are good, brush their teeth and make the bed will get stars. Three stars means that you get a reward, for example, an extra big hug.

One mother says that she used the reward system to teach the children to urinate and poop in the toilet. The youngest child was successful and received gold stars and reward. But the big sister peed on herself and therefore had neither received stars or reward.

Birgitta Kimber who introduced the course in Sweden explains that parents’ job is to shape the children and that the course provides tools for this. Parents are encouraged to systematically use the reward, ignoring, and so-called limit-setting techniques.

– Most focus is on positive nurture strategy. Every time the child goes to bed on time, I commend. I’m talking about what a good child I have, as do what I want, says Birgitta Kimber.

Raising children with rewards and punishments received broad upsurge with the television program Supernanny. The program has inspired politicians and opinion leaders in several countries for various projects to teach parents to set limits for their children. Björkestaskolan also work with education through rewards and punishments. Children making “bad choices” and not following school rules will sit in the “Yellow Room”.

– We adults have the same standards. That’s the secret. If the adult world is not united, students take power, says the school’s principal.

Child psychologist and author Penelope Leach says that adults over the western empires changed its view on children and education. Many people have stopped caring about why children behave as they do. Instead, obedience ideals has come back.

– Parenting skills courses, advice columns, and parents’ books giving advice on how to get children to “behave better”. In essence, it means that the children should not stand in the way of adult life, says Penelope Leach.

Erik Sandberg, himself the father of three little boys, examines why many suddenly become so anxious to get children to obey.


Producer: Erik Sandberg

Reporter: Mattias Sandberg

Photographers: Mats Lund and William Johansson

Cutter: Johan Serrander


Airs on: SVT2 Sunday, November 9 20:00