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Kids more sociable, less anxious: study -

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ELEANOR HALL: They may be more prone to obesity and depression, but according to a study on
Australian children, are now sociable and less anxious than they were 20 years ago.

The findings by the Australian Institute of Family Studies fly in the face of the popular belief
that children today are more difficult to control.

Barbara Miller prepared this report.

MOTHER: I work in a baby shop, so, I really, and I've heard that term "micro-managing", and I think
that's really, really prevalent. I really think people pressure their children to,out of their
boundaries to be learning and put in social situations that they're not necessarily comfortable
with. That we weren't expected to.

BARBARA MILLER: In a play park in Sydney's inner-west the concepts of hyper-parenting is all too

MOTHER 2: There is a lot out there, now offered for children, just about everything you can think
of. There is activities, tutoring, all sorts of things around the place. And so, sometimes you do
question whether or not you're doing enough for them.

And many of the mothers watching their children at play today said they had to consciously make an
effort not to hot-house their children.

MOTHER 3: You sort of get caught up in that, "Oh, they can do this, they can do that." There's all
these activities, and I actually, after a little while of her doing her a whole lot of different
things, I just stopped doing them. I just thought, actually we'll just go and play in the park.

MOTHER 4: You do have to work on it. I don't believe in putting them under pressure, education or
otherwise. But I think a lot of it is product-led. I think the resources available for children are

BARBARA MILLER: Because many studies have suggested children do suffer under the high expectations
of their parents and society, the Australian Institute of Family Studies decided to compare results
from two studies on children's well-being: one from now and one from the 1980s. The results were
rather surprising.

DIANA SMART: The groups were really very similar, but today's children did have an edge in their
social skills, in how they were getting on with other people.

BARBARA MILLER: Diana Smart is the study's lead author.

DIANA SMART: Today's parents might know a little bit more about children's development and in the
'80s there's a lot of attention given to children's development and growing up and we see programs
like Super Nanny and those sorts of things.

So, perhaps today's parents are a little but more tolerant and understanding children's development
than in the past.

BARBARA MILLER: It seems to sort of fly in the face of popular belief though, doesn't it? We tend
to think now that these older, more educated parents are a lot more anxious, they're putting a lot
of pressure on their children and there often reports suggesting that children feel that pressure
and are themselves anxious.

DIANA SMART: I know that is a popular perception; but the evidence from the latest study - the
children of the 2000s - in fact suggest that the older parents perhaps have a slight edge in their
parenting skills compared with the younger parents when we have looked at it. So, I think that
perception might not be quite accurate.

BARBARA MILLER: The study also found that while today's parents reported that their children were
more sociable and less aggressive than parents did 20 years ago, teachers today are report more
behavioural issues than previously.

But Helena Card from St Josephs Memorial School in Norwood in South Australia says it's not the
children who have changed in that time.

HELENA CARD: I think as teachers, that we understand the behaviours of children are a lot better.
That our learning has progressed to understand many issues and underlying styles of learning that
children have present with in the classroom. Whether that be behavioural or learning difficulties
or diversities, and we're able to cater to these a lot better now. Whereas before we may not have
understood them as well as we do now.

BARBARA MILLER: There are so many worrying reports for today's parents. But the message of this one
is that on the whole they're doing just fine.

ELEANOR HALL: Barbara Miller reporting.