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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 9 January, 2001, 13:09 GMT
'My kids have pester power'
Seeing red in the shops
One in four parents say they crack once a day
"Pester power" has made parents of school children the angriest people in Britain. But are the strains of modern parenthood so different from a generation ago?

Here, Nunzio Quacquarelli, a company director from London, and his mother Cathryn Johnson compare their experiences.

I have experienced 'pester power' from my three children Elena, Matteo, and Elisabetta, aged seven, six and two respectively.

Pokémon game produced by Nintendo
"If I don't get a Nintendo, I'll hold my breath..."
Although they are very sweet children, they do find occasions when they really want something and they'll go out of their way to get it.

At Christmas, not only do they write to Santa Claus, they also make sure mum and dad know what's on the list so they won't be disappointed.

Nintendo 64 topped Matt's list last December.

But being busy parents, we didn't get to the shops until a week or two before Christmas and it was sold out. We ordered it online, but lo and behold, Christmas broke and there was no sign of it.

So my wife's sister brought over her child's console. We wrapped it up and presented it to him, explaining that it had to be taken away for a month. If we hadn't gone to those efforts, he would have been devastated.

They probably wind me up once a week. We either try to reason with them, or in a worst case scenario, tell them off and send them to their rooms. My wife adds and deducts points, which can be exchanged for treats.

Man-U Inc

I accept that a degree of advertising to kids is inevitable.

Manchester United's David Beckham
"Do you want to be in my gang?"
But children are under more pressure from marketing messages these days. They feel they genuinely have to have Nintendo in order to talk on a like-to-like basis with their friends.

I'd like to limit the amount of advertising any one product can have, so it doesn't become an insurmountable goal for the child to have that particular item.

As a child, I probably pestered my parents just as much, but I was exposed to much less marketing.

The only example I can think of is that I've been a Manchester United fan from a young age. But silly things like a club scarf cost very little then. Today, that same allegiance to a football team can lead to huge demands for expenditure.

Is it so different from a generation ago? Cathryn Johnson, of Manchester, harks back 30 years to when Nunzio was a lad.

My ex-husband and I worked hard for our four children, so they always had nice things and went to private schools.

Spice Girls circa 1997
Wannabes: Is this what little girls are made of?
But they weren't as demanding as children are today. They didn't watch television and decide what they wanted for Christmas in that way.

And I certainly didn't have children demanding designer clothes - they wore what the parent chose, rather than what the child demanded.

But little girls weren't encouraged to be interested in make-up and clothes back then. They liked dressing up as fairies or princesses - that little girl image has gone now.

Past your bedtime

The biggest contest we faced was getting them off to bed. There always used to be a war when they reached the age of 10 and 11 - they wanted to stay up to watch something creepy that all their friends watched, that they weren't allowed to.

If they were naughty, I'd smack them and send them up to bed. I even smacked Nunzio when he was 17.

I'm a great believer in discipline, but parents don't believe in smacking at all these days.

Children have got to know how far they can go, and I don't think they're stopped from going too far these days - Nunzio's children included.


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16 Aug 00 | Business
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