For a long time, I kept wondering why one of my neighbours would almost always mess up every issue with his friends, neighbours and colleagues in the office with his harsh words. When I got closer to him, I found him more pleasant than he presented from a distance. Eventually I found out why.
After observing the result I got on a particular day from my intervention in a conflict which resulted in the quick and peaceful resolution, he expressed his regret for the trait he got from his foster mother. He explained that his foster mother was always talking to everyone in harsh tones and expressed dissatisfaction with his inability to achieve much result in his struggle to drop the habit.
My advice to him was that his challenge could be corrected through a process of self-reconstruction spiritually, emotionally and cognitively in order for him to forge ahead in life with peace and progress. I advised him to enrol in a speaking class because he was really losing out on the beneficial outcomes of good interpersonal relationships with people around him.
There is an age long belief in my village that child training is a collective responsibility of members of the society. Therefore, in the traditional environment, the child-training process made it possible for children to have access to neighbours and relations who modelled characters that provided support for children in areas that their parents have weaknesses in. The traditional architectural designs also encouraged this positive character modelling by responsible adults.
On the contrary, the modern designs of buildings are closed-up flats with limited interactions with neighbours. Although this design has the advantage of shielding children from negative peer pressure, it limits the children’s access to adults in the neighbourhood who are able to model desired behaviours and provide parenting support. There is then the need for the government, non-governmental organisations, religious groups, schools and others to establish effective parenting training programmes for adults in different communities and train workers who will provide parenting support to children.
Finally, no one should continue to live with a bad habit that was acquired during the childhood period. All available options for self-reconstruction should be followed up faithfully until the habit is dropped.
-Uchenna N. Nduka