Swearing, forgetting their Ps and Qs and spending too long on their phones: parents reveal what children tell them off for

Published on: 10 Rhagfyr 2020

Parents across the UK are no strangers to getting into trouble and being told off by their children, according to a new poll

  • But it’s not just parents’ manners coming under scrutiny, their children are asking them to recycle more, donate to charity, help homeless people and pick up litter
  • Majority of parents with 7 – 13-year olds say their child is generally kinder than they are and 7 in 10 agree they inspire them to help others
  • Children are leading by example: a total of 85% of children either have given (29%) or would give (56%) one of their own Christmas presents to someone they didn’t know to make them happy 
  • BookTrust encourages the public to back its appeal to gift festive book parcels to children who are vulnerable or in care to help brighten their Christmas   

Parents across the UK are no strangers to getting into trouble and being told off by their children according to a new poll.

The poll, commissioned to launch our Christmas appeal, shows that parents of 7-13 year-olds are pulled up for using swearing words (47%), for doing something they’ve told their kids not to do (32%), and for spending too much time on screens or their phone (31%).

Nearly a quarter (24%) of parents have also had their knuckles rapped for not saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ while 34% are taken to task for being too tired to play or have fun.

But kids aren’t just asking their parents to mind their manners, they’re also the ones pushing their parents to be more socially and environmentally minded.

Nearly half (46%) have been asked by their 7-13-year-olds to recycle more, four in ten (39%) have been asked to donate money to charity while over a third (35%) have been asked to pick up litter.

Three in ten (29%) parents have been asked by their kids to stop and offer a homeless person food or money.

The kids are alright

And kids aren’t just talking the talk either, they’re leading by example.

In the poll of over a 1,000 7-13-year-olds, over half (54%) cited they have donated to food banks with a further 38% saying they would do so.

Seven in 10 (72%) have picked up litter and two-fifths (40%) have given their pocket money to charity.

The proof is in the pudding, as almost a third (29%) say they’ve even given away one of their Christmas presents to someone they didn’t know to make them happy and a further 56% say they haven’t yet, but would.

This willingness to make a difference is having a knock-on-effect as 79% of their parents say their kids have made them reflect on how their actions might impact on the community and environment.

As a result, 7 in ten (69%) parents say their children inspire them to find ways to actively help people who are in difficult circumstances.

The impact of the coronavirus in terms of families’ finances and their ability to spend time together, means that many families will be celebrating Christmas a little differently this year.

However, despite these challenging times, over a quarter (26%) of parents said that they would be donating money or presents to people in a difficult situation.

The results come as BookTrust launches its 2020 Christmas fundraising appeal, which helps brighten Christmas for children who are vulnerable or in care.

Now in its fourth year, the appeal is aiming to reach over 14,000 children with a surprise gift this year, including a hardback book.

Each £10 raised will give one young, vulnerable person their surprise book gift, distributed through local authorities, schools and community foodbanks.

Gemma Malley, Director at BookTrust said:

“My own children regularly point out my shortcomings and it’s very reassuring to know that children everywhere are encouraging their parents to be better people!
Unfortunately, this Christmas, there will be many more children and families facing some form of hardship. 
This is already a difficult time of the year for children in care, some of whom may be spending their first Christmas away from their family. And the events of this year mean there will be even more families for whom buying presents may be a struggle.
The BookTrust Christmas appeal aims to brighten Christmas for thousands of children who are vulnerable or in care by sending them festive book parcels.
 The feedback we get from the children who have received our parcels in previous years is heart-warming and shows how much they treasure receiving a gift and book of their own at Christmas.”

Niki Freckelton, Officer for Children Looked After, Southampton City Council, said:

"It’s hard to imagine how far reaching the effects of receiving parcels addressed to you in the post can be, but if you are a child in foster care and not living with your family or have had to move home several times, receiving something in the post can make you feel safe and valued, something many children in foster care struggle to feel. That sense of someone picking me to receive a gift is really special for children.”

David McKee, children’s author and illustrator added:

"I'm so pleased to be involved with BookTrust's festive appeal.
Giving the gift of reading is so special, even more so at this time of year and just one book really can make all the difference, so please help reach even more children with the wonderful world of books."

Download the press release

Get involved with our Christmas appeal

Topics: Christmas, News

Thank you!

A big thank you to everyone who donated to the BookTrust Christmas appeal, with your generous support, we have sent surprise book gifts to 14,250 children who are vulnerable or in care in the run-up to Christmas. Your gift helped the children feel special during the festive period.

Help more children in 2021 with books and reading support by becoming a BookTrust Friend.