In the latest crackdown on what's acceptable at school and what isn't, I see a UK headmaster has banned fake tan.

He doesn't like orange pupils - who could argue with him?

Well, it turns out many parents have. Some accused the school of damaging their daughters' self-esteem, others raised body confidence issues and asked where's the harm in a little fake tan?


Human rights were also raised, of course, as is custom these days.

But how much do parents leaping to the defence of their kids' 'rights' actually hinder kids in the long term?

My boys attend a school which is obsessive about hair length. It's short back and sides and that's it.

Each summer after weeks of growing their hair long, they lament having to chop it all off.

Each time they do, it's inevitably not short enough and they're told to cut it shorter - or face a detention.

Yes, I could march up to the school and demand some human rights for them, I could contest the school rules, I could inject myself into the debate... but to what end?

They attend a school where the rules were clearly laid out on day one, the penalties for breaching them were clear.

Like it or not, short hair is a school policy and one the school vigorously enforces.


To make a 'special case' of your children is not necessarily helping them learn to live within boundaries rules and structures.

And where do you draw the line?

At what point do you stop fighting their battles or lodging complaints on their behalf?

Once they enter the workplace and there's a rule about punctuality or meeting attendance, for example, will you still be marching in and protesting your child should be exempt?

Will your child have learned to operate within various environments which don't always suit them?

Customising rules and procedures around individual children, while in theory all very nice, doesn't work out here in the real world.

The kid you're protecting from having to scrub off their fake tan will one day have to catch buses with weirdos, encounter strange behaviour at work offices, engage with people they don't necessarily like.

They'll be in situations which don't suit them and that's actually good for them.

It teaches resilience.

Learning to navigate all that, to accept and appreciate diversity and understand the world, is a bit bigger than just you and your fresh spray tan, will help them in the long term.

Running up to school shouting human rights and fighting their battles will not.