From a distance, I could see all the nerves on her neck stick out as if she was on a battle field. She applied all the strength in her as she issued instructions to her children on how to comport themselves in the children’s service at the entrance of the hall. Her children were two boys and a girl, within ages three and eight. Immediately she left, the senior boy somersaulted into a corner of the hall where I, as the coordinator of that service, could not easily see what he was doing. It didn’t take him time to align with other children who were uncooperative. He always had a mischievous smile on his face each time he was expected to obey any instruction and would figure out a way of actualising disobedience speedily and skilfully.
At the end of the service, I had a discussion with this mother which confirmed my perception of the disciplinary atmosphere in her home. Immediately I mentioned to her that I wanted us to discuss her children, she became apprehensive. Her first statement encapsulated it all.
“I know that my children are stubborn. They are very stubborn” was her confession. I had to look around to be sure that they did not hear their mother’s statement. I didn’t even ask her questions in detail about her relationship with her children because the symptoms of an unhealthy parenting relationship were obvious. I had a counselling session with her on the ingredients of a healthy parenting relationship as well as the disciplinary pollutants she needed to expunge. I emphasised that it was very unnecessary to describe them as ‘stubborn’ and would lead to increased stubbornness if she continued with that description.
Another mum was observed who took time to take her children into the hall and ensure that they were properly seated. Her children were about the same age with the children of the woman in our first story. Her conversation with them was barely audible, but love, peace and joy were discernible as she bade them goodbye. She could not but peep through the window to be sure that they were all ok. She was seen checking on them through the window midway into the service. She was really passionate with her parenting role. My interactions with her children were quite impressive. Her children were interactive and cooperative during the service.
It is untrue that some children naturally need to be handled with aggression. The truth is that it is a parent’s choice to determine how much of aggression he or she would bring into the parenting process. Almost all the parents I have met who asserted that their children would always require flogging or threatening introduced such things from the onset. Their children therefore had no other option than to ‘react’ to the associated discomforts.
Well, the difference is clear. The preferred approach is obvious. The results of effective parenting skills are unrivalled. It is never too late to chose the right approach. All parents should really learn, practice and share the parenting skills that produce enduring results.
-Uchenna N. Nduka