Feature: Italian experts concerned about children’s misbehavior, urge “stronger” parents

By Marzia De Giuli
ROME, Oct. 24 — Lucio Garofalo, an elementary teacher in Italy, is in the doldrums as he describes to Xinhua his everyday struggle with what he perceives to be an increasing lack of basic manners among his school students.
Throughout more than 15 years of teaching experience, Garofalo has tried his best to raise generations of good citizens, and feels happy when his former students say hello to him in the streets.
However, he says year after year, it becomes harder to deal with children “who are increasingly more spoiled and ill-mannered under the eyes of their surrendered parents.” ‘ “The overindulgent parents are always get angry with me and my colleagues if we only dare to tell their disobedient children off,” he added.
According to a 2011 survey, Italian children are the most dreaded by hotel staff throughout Europe because of their unpunished rudeness. Studies presented earlier this year also showed that bullying in Italian elementary schools is more widespread than other European countries.
Professor of developmental psychology at the University of Florence, Ersilia Menesini, said, “In Italy, 30-40 percent of children claimed that they have been victims of some type of threat from their peers.”
“Parents are often too focused on rights but forget the duties that kids should have,” Menesini told Xinhua. “Sometimes there are conflicting educational models, in which permissiveness is alternated with violence used to regain control of the children.”
She continued: “In a postindustrial society, parents should be the authoritative, not authoritarian. Divert kids’ attention towards positive behaviors and help them interiorize rules among the correct education tools.”
For example, parent Cecilia Brancucci has chosen an obvious, but not so common rule to raise her well-mannered four-year-old twins.
“When you say something, be it good or bad, you always have to keep your promise. A mother must be credible,” she explained to Xinhua.
“Lately I took my kids to a toy shop to get an idea of what presents they’d like for Christmas. Before entering the shop I told them we would not buy anything, and so we didn’t. But I saw other kids crying and easily obtaining a toy from their parents.”
Psychologist Mariuccia Bordegari believes that as a country with one of the lowest birthrates in the world, children becomes “precious” and therefore their every wish is granted by the many adults who take care of them.
“Hence, they grow up considering the adults as appendages at their service. On the other hand, super busy parents always choose to make their children happy instead of engaging in a conflict,” she said.
“Why should I make him cry? He is the only child I have!” is a common way of thinking among her patients, she added.
Bordegari stressed, “Rules are the fundamental social tool to be able to get along well with others. However, if there was an absolute heap of affection for children, they would miss the learning of rules.”
She called on Italy to have “stronger and more self-confident parents” who are capable of saying “no” and being aware that “this wouldn’t harm their kids but helps them grow up harmoniously.”[db:内容2]

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