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Toxic Childhood: How The Modern World Is Damaging Our Children And What We Can Do About It Paperback – 3 May 2006

4.5 out of 5 stars 64 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Orion (3 May 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0752873598
  • ISBN-13: 978-0752873596
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 2.7 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,178,047 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


Horribly convincing (INDEPENDENT)

The title has become shorthand for everything that's wrong with children's lives from excessive testing at school to violent computer games, sex, drugs and alcohol. (EVENING STANDARD)

There are so many more words of wisdom and warnings about the age our children live in that I can't recommend this book highly enough. The book confirms the vital role all parents play in our children's lives and it equips us to recognise and confront the challenges that our children face so that we can 'detox' their childhood. (Claire Paye

A fascinating account of the problems facing kids today... it contains solid parenting advice on subjects ranging from diet to childcare. (SAINSBURY'S MAGAZINE)

'A splendid book that draws together a vast swathe of the most authoritative research from a whole range of fields and disciplines ¿ that together explain ¿the worsening behaviour of children and the explosion in numbers of special needs pupils¿ (THE MOTHER)

Every parent should read this book, as it does contain a wealth of information you should know (EVENING HERALD)

Book Description

One in six children in the developed world is diagnosed as having 'developmental or behavioural problems', and the number is rising by 25% each year - this book explains why and shows what can be done about it

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
As somebody with extensive experience of Scandinavian childrearing, I was intrigued to see how selectively the author quotes Scandinavian practices in relation to the findings of greater happiness and greater powers of concentration in these children. Scandinavia features prominently in her chapter on education, as a counterpart to the vicious effects of the early British school start and the result-centered education approach, neither of which she approves of. Scandinavian children are happier, they start school later, therefore we have proved the benefits of the late school start. Well, yes, maybe we have, but I notice that in other areas where practices differ between countries, Scandinavia doesn't get a look in. For instance, Scandinavian parents routinely let their children come into bed with them, because they have never been told that this is the sign of bad parenting. How come Palmer doesn't tell us this and relate it to the greater happiness reported by these youngsters? Nor are we informed that virtually all Scandinavian children attend full time day care from an early age (housewives being a virtually extinct species). So how do we know which of these is the decisive factor? Perhaps it's the night time cuddles, Palmer? Or the happy day care centres? Or something totally different that your Scandinavian sources forgot to tell you about. Research your study is not. As every properly qualified researcher knows, to be able to draw accurate conclusions, you have to isolate one factor, everything else being equal. Not tell anecdotes about a child looking grumpy on the steps of the Uffizi and speculate for several paragraphs on her parents' television habits.Read more ›
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I was tempted to begin by saying that anyone who reads this book probably doesn't need to, but maybe there are parents out there who would find it useful. Parents who sense that something is wrong with childhood, but can't put their finger on it and would like some clues as to where to begin putting it right. Simple measures like taking the TV out of children's bedrooms, and aiming for the 'authoritative' (as opposed to 'authoritarian') style of parenting. This is a fairly authoritative book, anyway. Sue Palmer has done a lot of research. She puts her views and advice across in a readable style. For those who find it a bit skimpy there are plenty of references at the end of each chapter for further reading and web sites to visit. It's a bit of a rant, and I felt it was getting rather repetetive towards the end (hence only four stars), but Palmer does put her case across very convincingly, and I for one wouldn't disagree with her. I certainly wouldn't write her off as being illiberal or old fashioned, despite her yearning for 'old fashioned' values and advocacy of greater state support for parenting. Not sure about the 'mind the gap' section at the end of each chapter. These sections were supposedly intended to relate the advice in the main body of each chapter to the lives of the poorest families in western societies, but I thought they were a bit unnecessary and slightly sinister. As someone who brought up children twenty and more years ago, now has grandchildren, and works with children and families, I could relate to this book, and thought it full of good advice and ideas. Anyone could benefit by reading it, but it is aimed primarily at parents of young children. I hope that lots of them will read it, and put the advice into practice. As it says at the end of the book, 'We might even be in time to save the world.'
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Sue Palmer is an experienced writer and broadcaster on children's education. This very useful book makes a strong case for some traditional values. Our children need to develop focus, self-restraint and empathy; they need to learn to do as you would be done by; and they need presence, not presents, parents who listen and talk to their children. She recommends real food, less of sugar's empty calories and more fish oil, eaten at family meals; play and exercise; bedtime routines; and protecting children from advertising (Sweden bans advertising to under-12s).

In Finland, a teacher of nursery children must have a master's degree. Britain, on the cheap, uses poorly-qualified, even unqualified, staff, not just in nurseries but increasingly in primary and secondary education too. Our children from age five are subjected to tests and targets: our 11-year-olds are bottom of the league for enjoying reading. In Sweden and Finland, formal education starts at seven: they are top for literacy and have smaller gaps between rich and poor and between boys and girls.

But it is not just a matter of deficient parenting skills, or of a defective educational system. Why do these happen? Our competitive, long-hours, rat-race, culture is harming our children - and our adults too! When both parents have to be out working to make ends meet, the whole family suffers. As Ms Palmer says, we need family-friendly economies, not economy-friendly families.

And there is the vital matter of inequality, which, unfortunately, she does not treat in this book. Britain has the third biggest gap between haves and have-nots among the 24 OECD countries; the USA has the biggest. We have the second highest child death rate; the USA has the highest.
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