10 Jan, 2016

David Cameron: parents should be taught how to control children

The prime minister will call for a revolution in child rearing this weekend by suggesting that all parents should attend classes on how to discipline their children.

In a move likely to enrage those fearful of an encroaching “nanny state”, David Cameron will say that it should be the norm for parents to receive instruction on how to behave around their offspring.

As part of a speech on the family, Cameron will announce plans for a parenting classes voucher scheme, claiming that all parents need help and that there is too little state-sponsored guidance on offer.

“In the end, getting parenting and the early years right isn’t just about the hardest-to-reach families; it’s about everyone,” Cameron is expected to say on Monday. “We all have to work at it. And if you don’t have a strong support network – if you don’t know other mums or dads – having your first child can be enormously isolating.

“Of course they don’t come with a manual, but is it right that all of us get so little guidance? We’ve made progress. We’ve dramatically expanded the number of health visitors, and that is crucial. But that just deals with one part of parenting – the first few weeks and months. What about later on, when it comes to play, communication, behaviour and discipline? We all need more help with this – the most important job we’ll ever have. So I believe we now need to think about how to make it normal – even aspirational – to attend parenting classes.”

Cameron will say that the government’s Life Chances Strategy – an initiative to target tackle child poverty – will include a plan for “significantly expanding parenting provision”. It will also recommend ways to incentivise all parents to take up the offer of classes.

This marks a return to the issue for the prime minister, after a former parenting class scheme ended in meltdown and embarrassment.

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