Attentive and discerning parents are in a privileged position to understand a child’s unique personality traits. A child’s personality traits evolve gradually and consistently over his childhood period. At the early stages, the parenting process is usually challenged by the child’s weak emotions and conceptual and logic skills. Hence, descriptions such as selfish, careless, inconsiderate, lazy, gluttonous and destructive are common at the early stages. A child’s proper and positive personality development would be truncated if parents form negative opinions on a child’s personality at the early stages.
Parents are expected to carefully study each child with the intention of providing the kind of support that will reinforce good behaviour and achieve improvement in weak areas. Expectedly, improvement would be achieved as the child matures with the right parenting support. It is unnecessary to complain about a child’s weakness with others unless this is carefully done in confidence with a skilled person and intending to assist the child. Unguarded discussions or complaints about a child’s weakness with his siblings, friends, care-givers, teachers and other relations have the following disadvantages among others:
- It is ineffective as a strategy for correcting wrong behaviour in children. On the contrary, it makes a negative trait to stick with the child for long and create a feeling of frustration.
- Teachers and other care-givers may not be favourably disposed towards assisting the child if parents have ignorantly created a negative impression of him/her. This may lead to negative perception of the child’s innocent actions. Such children may also be exposed to aggression and punishment from teachers, even when they are innocent.
- It leads to siblings’ rivalry, especially if done when the child is being corrected of wrong behaviour and compared with his siblings.
- The child may resent his parents.
- It leads to lack of self-confidence and low self-esteem if a child is consistently given such negative descriptions through name-calling.
Great parents utilise every opportunity to emphasise a child’s positive attributes in their parenting relationship as well as during communication with other people. Weaknesses and faults in children should be managed skilfully, privately and prayerfully with confidentiality in order to achieve the desired results.
-Uchenna N. Nduka
A well-cultivated farm in my village recently caught my attention. The diligence with which the farmer attended to the farm was obvious. The ridge layout was compact with adequate and uniform spacing. Though it was a large expanse of land, the weeds were well-controlled. When I scanned through the plants, I was excited that there were varieties of plants, each with unique colours and designs of stems, branches, leaves and fruits in order to meet different nutritional requirements of human beings. Since plants require attention in different ways, farmers sacrifice their time and resources to ensure that the soil is made fertile with the right ingredients for each plant to thrive. Some plants such as yam and pumpkin leaves are even stalked so that they would grow well.
The farmer can not change the unique nature of each plant. He is only required to ensure that the plants are grown in the right soil environment and weather condition. For instance, yam tendrils can only produce yam tubers, while pumpkin plants can only produce pumpkin leaves and fruits. The farmer would end up in frustration if he expects a pumpkin plant to produce yam tubers the same way that a parent who expects extroverted performance from a child that is introverted would be frustrated.
Parenting relationship is a unique relationship in which the child leans on the parents for support and proper guidance. This support can be likened to the support the farmer provides to a yam tendril. Parenting support has the following attributes:
- It creates the right atmosphere of discipline. This atmosphere is ideally saturated with the right virtues from which the child would be fed.
- It is not intended to alter the unique personality disposition of the child. Proper parental support, for example, should not turn a left-handed child into a right-handed person.
- It provides rewards to reinforce right behaviour.
- It allows the rod to correct wrong actions. The rod does not mean the whip or other forms of corporal punishment. They are realities of harsh outcomes from wrong actions.
- It should create an atmosphere of godliness and love.
Great parents are truly the brace of endless love in the life of any child hence the recommendation that parents should always strive to strengthen this support by getting closer, loving more, talking more and listening more, even in the face of challenges or provocation. This will enable parents to discern properly on parenting issues, have realistic expectations from each child, and leave a space for each child to express his or her unique personality dispositions and potentials within the limits of the right atmosphere of discipline.
-Uchenna N. Nduka