In my childhood days, children approached most house chores with a lot of anxiety. We just had to get it right at all times! Most times, I would not just be able to place my finger on why I would not achieve the perfect obedience to parental instructions the way I would desire them. The standards of expectation were quite high though. One house chore that gave us such an anxiety was the washing of breakable utensils.
What generated the anxiety was that the utensils kept breaking during washing. Each time it occurred, my heart would fall deep into my stomach in extreme fear and I would be overwhelmed with guilt. I struggled over the years with the accusation of carelessness I got each time it occurred. The punishment I would eventually get on such occasions would usually not produce the extent of guilt I usually felt immediately it occurred. This went on and on for several years until I became a teenager, when the incidences substantially reduced. It almost stopped occurring completely in my late teenage years.
When this scenario emerged in my relationship with my children, I approached it empathically. I was just sure that it was needless flogging a child for several years to achieve improvement. It was obviously certain that improvement would definitely be achieved with maturity! My assumption was not that the child was careless, but that she lacked the wisdom to figure out properly how to clean up the glass utensils properly while avoiding breakage. So, when I arrived at one of such scenes, I instructed my daughter to walk out carefully to avoid being pricked by the glass pieces. I then inquired where the plate fell from. When she pointed at the edge of the sink, I told her that she did a wrong thing by keeping a glass plate at the edge of the sink. She then understood why the plate fell and broke. The following guidelines I provided helped to make her wiser in performing this function.
- Breakable utensils should be separated from the plastic ones, washed and kept away before the non-breakable ones.
- They should be kept well inside the sink, never at the edges during washing.
- They should be rinsed immediately after washing so that they will not slip off the hands.
On my own side, I made minimal use of glass utensils until my children were matured enough to cope with it. Through this approach, breaking of glass utensils during washing was not allowed to become an issue that would generate undue anger, anxiety, irritability and build up of negative sentiments in my relationship with my children.
- Discipline is enhanced when instructions and guidelines are clearly explained with love.
- Expectations from children should match their stage of development and mental capability.
- Necessary adjustment could be made to accommodate the issues that cause anger, anxiety and resentment while the child gradually matures to handle them better.
- Parents should not approach discipline with the mindset that the child is unwilling to obey, but rather with the mindset of assisting someone who lacks the ability to perform a task.
- Uchenna N. Nduka