Discipline: Anchored on Punishment?

I wasn’t sure what was happening when I woke up at about midnight. The pain on the heel of my left foot was excruciating! What came to my mind immediately was the sharp pain I had on the same spot during the day which didn’t take time to resolve. I was able to exercise restraint for a few hours before I made a call to an orthopaedic doctor. Before I made this call, all I could think of was that the doctor was going to recommend a ‘strong’ pain-relieving drug. The pain was really severe. It was as though there was a bleeding wound on that spot. I was actually panicking when I made that call.

I was thrilled by the doctor’s confidence as he observed that my spinal cord was probably complaining because of my sitting position in the office. He guided me on the correct sitting position and advised that I ensure strict compliance. My health was restored that same day. It then became clear to me that the emphasis of a good health care system is not on drugs. I would have been exposed to taking drugs for a long time if that problem was not well diagnosed.

Somehow, it can be reasoned that the emphasis of a good health care system is not on drugs the same way that the emphasis of a parenting or educational system should not be on punishment. What is important in any case is the proper behavioural pattern that will aim at achieving the right results and proper diagnosis of problems when they manifest so that the right corrective actions can be taken.

It is clear by now that discipline is the central focus of effective parenting skills as consistently communicated in the Passion in parenting blog. Our focus has always been that parents and teachers should create the enabling environment for children to acquire discipline and self-control as a way of life. An enabling environment for this purpose firmly models and insists on disciplined behaviour and makes corrections including rebuke whenever the need arises. In the right environment, children learn from their experiences with proper parental guidance. Parents who are not unduly defensive allow children to learn from both pleasant and unpleasant experiences as long as safety is not compromised. In other words, we do not rely on the common understanding that a parent “disciplined”a child which means that corporal punishment was applied on the child. The parenting technique we teach is not anchored on punishment.

 

-Uchenna N. Nduka

Advertisements

The future of a society will depend on the experiences and practices children are exposed to.

As a child, I remember that on many occasions, especially in the village environment, I heard adults request for caution to be applied on an issue or an action to be put on hold because children were around. The traditional societies were very protective of the ideologies, knowledge and practices that children were exposed to.  The fact that child training then was everybody’s responsibility provided the drive for societies to set up structures to achieve this purpose even at the communal level. The implication of this was that conscious efforts were made to expose children to activities that would provide reinforcement for desired societal values of love, discipline, self control, hard work, peace and sanctity of the human life. Children were thus shielded from a lot of obscene and violent practices.

No doubt, the absorbent mind of a child functions with urgency, and makes the issue of practices and experiences children are exposed to a critical one. For instance, societies and nations in which children have unrestricted access to events (live or recorded) where human beings are slaughtered as result of personal, family, or communal conflicts face the risk of genocide in the future. Children in such societies may grow up to be people who will quickly resort to murder in settling issues or challenges of life.

This practice of being careful of the things children are allowed to view or hear is really worthy of emulation and is applicable even in the modern world. This explains why television programmes that are safe for children are classified as such. This also advises the actions of careful parents, who take time to watch children games and read their books, to be sure that they are free from negative contents before they are released to the children.

In that regard, nations that are faced with violent communal conflicts should hasten up with peaceful resolution, otherwise  violence will be so etched in the minds of the children that they will grow up to be aggressive adults and resort to violence at the slightest provocation.

It is therefore important that efforts should be made to create parenting environments where love, discipline and other godly virtues are practised. In other words, exposure of children to events that will lay foundation of hatred, violence and attraction to social vices should be avoided for positive personality development and peaceful co-existence.

 

-Uchenna N. Nduka

Greetings

Greetings to the passion in parenting readers. I hope you are all making parenting efforts in the right direction.

Sorry that I have not been posting as regularly as I used to. I have been busy with a task. I will soon be through with it.

Meanwhile let’s all keep applying the parenting skills that are effective. I will encourage those in my part of the world to be consistent in resisting the ever increasing pressure to join the popular practice of violence towards children in the name of training. One should wonder how much training is achieved with the wrong method if terrorism, insecurity, kidnapping and other social vices are on the increase.

Effective parenting methods is the preferred option for raising disciplined children. It is peaceful. Lovely and produced enduring result.

-Uchenna New. Nduka

Continuous Training and Supervision of Teachers: A Necessity for Quality Child Care and Education

I was giving a message in a gathering of children aged between one and eight years old when I noticed one adult going round the class. Initially I was too deeply engaged in the message to take particular notice of what she was doing. Suddenly, I fixed my gaze on her and noticed that she was slapping the children on their cheeks. When I got closer, I observed that some of them had misty eyes. Her explanation was that they were talking while I was teaching. I called her aside and told her not to slap them. She decided not to be part of the class and left immediately.  It was obvious that she was stopped from applying the only skill she had on how to work with children.

Many teachers have refused to work with children because their parents complained about unnecessary aggressive behaviours towards the children. Usually, such teachers would give up all efforts at assisting the child to learn and may even go as far as orchestrating confusion around the child’s academic progress to prove that aggression must necessarily be allowed in order to achieve progress with the child.

Like the biblical Sampson who lost his strength when his hair was shaved, some care givers and teachers lose their whole drive and strength to assist a child in situations where they are required to apply the motivational and positive approach to child care and education. This situation is unfortunate and can be quite frustrating to any child.

The ownership of schools and child care centers should stick to sound and effective child training and educational methods ensure that teachers are properly trained and put in place quality control strategies which will forestall theapplication of substandard practices by deviant teachers.

 

-Uchenna N Nduka

A parent’s fault is a child’s pitfall

Adol  was upset when he discovered that his adolescent son, Tony, picked up the habit of repeating the ‘emmm’ sound in-between his sentences when making speeches. He became more worried after his son’s teacher complained about the same issue during a private chat at a PTA meeting. He therefore made every effort to communicate his disgust for this habit to his son. Although dropping the habit was not easy on his son’s part, but improvement was gradually achieved over time.

One day, Adol gradually stumbled on a video recording of a speech he made at a forum organised by his professional association a long time ago.

“See Tony’s chubby cheeks!”  He exclaimed.

Although he was alone in his room when he played the video, he could not hide his excitement at seeing his two sons at their tender ages.  Tony was six years old then, while his senior brother was nine years old. They were both sitting beside their mum eagerly awaiting their father’s speech.

His countenance suddenly fell when his speech commenced.

“This can’t be true!” he exclaimed

“Wait. Was I actually using this repulsive ‘emmm’ so frequently in such an important speech?” he asked pensively.

He was greatly shocked when he realised that he unconsciously provided the habit for his sons during their formative years.

Passionate parents are aware that a child’s absorbent mind functions with urgency, absorbing everything that is available in his immediate environment. Effective parenting approach requires parents to apply this same urgency in purifying the parenting environment. As the arrow heads in the parenting environment, parents should therefore be hasty in dealing with their own faults before they are absorbed by their children.

It is always easier to make a child absorb right habits than getting the child to drop a bad habit so that a good one can be acquired. It is easier to achieve a disciplined child than achieving discipline with a rebellious adult. Children acquire discipline as a way of life when they are raised in disciplined environments.

 

-Uchenna N. Nduka

Passionate Parents Don’t Joke with the Child’s Privacy in Sensitive Discussions

We were all in a happy mood that evening relishing the family reunion in our big family house when we heard a cry from the children’s corner. Shortly afterwards, the crying child walked in, still sobbing, towards his mum. He was about six years old. Immediately he walked in, everybody’s attention was on him to find out was the problem was.

“Victor hit me on my hand and my ice cream poured away” the child explained.

On hearing his name, the countenance of Victor’s mum fell.  In a twinkle of an eye, she discussed her son’s faults without restraint and the efforts she has made in futility to address those faults. Victor was about seven years old.  She told us how mischievous and incorrigible Victor was. She also said that Victor the worst among her four children.

My heart skipped when I realised the possibility that Victor could be around listening to his mother’s negative comments. I actually walked around and it was true! Victor was in lonely corner, quietly listening to our discussions!

The scene described above is a common one in my environment. Any time I observe parents commit this blunder, my thoughts are provoked in many directions. In the case of Victor’s mum, was she trying to confirm the child’s claim against her son even without hearing her son’s version of the story? Was she trying to prove to us, her relations and neighbours that her son is always wrong? Would her constant condemnation of her son at that age in that manner help achieve improvement in the child’s behaviour? Would her open declaration that her child was a bad child be in her child’s interest?

The reaction of Victor’s mum above showed frustration. It is possible she was frustrated because the ‘efforts’ she made to help her son did not yield the desired result. Who knows if she was making the right efforts? The clouds created by sibling comparison are also an issue that could cause confusion and frustration in the parenting relationship between Victor and his mum. Whatever the issue was, it was unnecessary to discuss a child’s faults openly in that context and manner because of its negative consequences. It may lead to low morale and self esteem, negative branding and formation of negative personality traits, false accusation and unfair treatment of the child by his teachers and other adults, abandonment and neglect by the child’s caregivers.

We should recall that our recommendation for discussions to correct a child’s wrong behaviour is that parents should talk more with the child, listen more to the child and pray more for the child in privacy. Even rebuke, when necessary, in child-training is effective when it is done in privacy.

Yes, passionate parents go for the parenting methods that are effective.

 

-Uchenna N. Nduka

Our traditional parenting environment had a structure which provided a guide on each child’s ability.

There was a mammoth crowd at the conference centre at the end of a women’s conference I attended some time ago. I was about to leave the premises when I observed a woman yelling hysterically at her little daughter ofabout four years old . I had to get closer to assist the child who was already looking traumatised. I was a few steps away from them when the woman slapped the child angrily on her head asking her what she was doing when her younger brother she was taking care of wondered off. The little girl only cried sorrowfully and still looked up in fear, expecting more slaps. When I noticed that she was beating her, I quickened my steps towards them and tactfully distracted her attention from the child with some questions that could lead us to finding the missing child. The boy was later found within the conference premises. He was about two years old.

I walked away from that scene wondering if the woman’s expectation that her four-year-old child was capable of controlling her brother in such a place was realistic. Isn’t it also possible that that girl is exposed to such challenges in other aspects of her daily life? I agree with the line of thought that lack of proper understanding of children’s developmental limitations is a common cause of anger and violence towards children. Our traditional parenting environment had a structure which provided a guide on each child’s ability.

The environment where I grew up as child was an exciting one. Although it was an urban area, it was also a highly populated residential area with large number of children of all ages. There was a palpable level of communal interaction. It was really interesting how every child was identified with an age group. The socialisation process was so apt that even a new child in the neighbourhood would immediately be identified with an age group. Each group had its own expected developmental attainments, limitations and issues.

As children, we observed that the age group issue was applied with more seriousness in our village than the urban community.  It really provided a parenting advantage because the behavioural as well as developmental dispositions of each child could be understood by making reference to his age group.  For instance, it was easy to spot a child who was slow to talk or crawl or walk. It was also easy to understand the expected maturity level of a child by reference to other children within the same age range. Also, the age group a child belonged to provided him or her with a bench-mark for self-assessment of performance.

Parents in the traditional parenting environments had the respective age groups to serve as guides to the expected developmental abilities and peculiarities of each child.  Many parents in today’s world have access to more information about child development from seminars, good books, web sites and the social media. Passionate parents therefore should not ignorantly abuse a child in whatever way as a result of the child’s failure to achieve tasks that are beyond the child’s ability.

 

-Uchenna N. Nduka