By Teresa Gomez, Communications and Marketing

19 January 2018 - 14:06

Emilio Calatayud en el Colegio Británico

Emilio Calatayud warns of the consequences of over- protecting children in education, the juvenile judge, hosting the launch of the British Council School´s Wellbeing Days in Madrid, has signalled how it is important to be able to say no to children and remind them that they too, have obligations as well as rights. Our pioneering Wellbeing Hub project was also presented at the event. This will provide a forum for professionals and families around the topic of emotional management.

Emilio Calatayud was in charge of unveiling the British Council School´s WellbeingHub. The project has been set up to coordinate the work of professionals dedicated to child protection issues, with teachers, parents and children. It comes as “a meeting point, looking to find answers to questions and problems around emotional management in children”, said Silvia Prado, the School´s Director of Communication, spearheading the project. “Our goal is to promote diversity, equality and balance in the physical and mental health of children. We want to create a network to be able to measure wellbeing in children. We want to better understand how they feel, their likes and dislikes and to be able to provide answers to any problems which they might have”, explained Prado.

Emilio Calatayud, who launched the project, gave a talk this last weekend debating the subject of over-protecting children. The juvenile judge, who is well known for his exemplary sentencing, indicated his view, that “we are all involved in children´s education and one has to know when to put limits on children´s behaviour, because, if not, there will be problems, as they get older”

“We have moved from being slaves to our own parents, to being slaves to our children, turning them into little tyrants”, he explained. “I see it, more and more frequently: familes who are subordinate to their children, because they never knew how to say no to them. We have confused authority with authoritarianism, and we have gone from one extreme to the other”.

“We often talk about children´s rights but we shouldn´t forget that children also have obligations and that they should always respect and obey their parents. They should contribute around the home whilst they live with their parents, something which is stated in the Constitution. We are getting used to children becoming little princes in their own households, forgetting the virtue of authority and without providing limits. Giving children everything they ask for is doing them a great disservice”, he said.

As far as Calatayud is concerned, “education starts at home with the family and one cannot just give children everything they ask for, perhaps covering up other shortcomings. We are unaware of the power of new technologies. A child should not have a mobile phone before the age of 14, even if it is a Christmas or Communion present, because they are simply not mature enough. And also because with a single click they can commit an offence (…). On a daily basis, I find examples of families who have been destroyed because their children either commit or are victims of sexual abuse or bullying at school. How do you evaluate the harm done to someone who has had to move school 3 times because there is a photo which has been seen by 15,000 people in one day”, he explained.

“We are all so politically correct that now it seems like nothing is forbidden and there are some things that should be forbidden because they can result in serious problems. A “botellón” should be banned because alcohol is a drug and that child can then get on a motorbike and kill someone”.

Calatayud signalled the importance of enacting a “Minor´s Pact” “because there are intermediate age levels which should be legislated” and he also emphasised that “education is the resposibility of Society as a whole and the family is the base structure in this education system and that is why we have to protect it. We have provided families and teachers with authority but we have taken away their protection and we are now facing generations of young people who have become abusive and who think they have the right to do so”.

By way of a final piece of advice, he indicated that “we have to be much more involved, be much more on top of our children whilst they are living at home, and teach them to be resposible for their own actions because from the age of 14 there is a legal responsibility which they and their parents face”.

For Claudia Xibixell, counsellor at the British Council School, these sessions are important “because it is necessary that educators and families are able to talk and find solutions to problems which are rapidly on the increase, such as children´s level of anxiety and stress. The figures are alarming”, explained Xibixell. “The World Health Organisation highlights the growth of anxiety, depression and agression in new generations of young people. This is due, amongst other reasons, to the fact that they spend more time alone and have a much lower level of tolerance to feelings of frustration. We are facing generations, overrun by new technologies who have everything they wish for but who have very little understanding of where the limits are. According to the psychiatric white paper published by the Complutense University in Madrid, 15% of the Spanish population has a psychological problem and 1 out of 8 has a mental illness. This is a social problem, which we all need to react to”, she maintained.

The importance of emotional management

The British Council Schools´ WellbeingHub is a response to the need to raise awareness of the importance of emotional management in children. The project is built on three pillars. On the one hand, working closer with children in classrooms, to get to understand their feelings and their own responses to problems such as anxiety, bullying and stress. On the other hand, working with professionals (teachers, psychologists and those responsible for child protection) who are often the first to notice worrying problems and who work to develop solutions to these. Finally, working with families through seminars andworkshops, to allow them to learn about emotional management and how to apply this with their own children. These workshops are open to the public and take place regularly.