My firm belief that I can be in control of my Sunday school class without holding a whip has always worked with children of different backgrounds. The efficacy of this belief has been severally tested especially when I visited or relocated to new environments. Therefore, my response to the caution that “You will need a whip to control the children in this environment” would always be that it is not necessary to do so. One would not need a whip if he/she prayerfully applies the right skill or approach.
I was with a class of children aged between three and nine years. I relocated newly to that environment at that time. The class was in progress and effectively controlled when my attention was suddenly taken away from the class by a pressing issue. Just in ten minutes, about one-third of the children in the class were hitting each other with angry fists!
I took time to ask some of them why they were fighting. They all had one flimsy excuse or the other to justify why the other person deserved to be beaten. I was initially confused and was not exactly sure of the sources of that pollution. It was obvious that the children learnt physical aggression as a method of conflict resolution from the environment they grew in. It became clearer when I later understood how much the children were exposed to very aggressive parenting processes. It was a free-for-all situation. Parents, school teachers, church teachers, neighbours, bigger siblings, other relations and in fact every adult was free to hit children at anytime for whatever reason.
My explanation that the perceived offences could have been communicated without hitting the offender sounded strange to most of the children. In fact one of them told me that if he didn’t hit the one who offended him the person would not understand that what he did was wrong. I have had very similar explanation from parents when they justify aggressive parenting approaches. It was really unfortunate that children at such tender ages had such wrong belief etched in their minds! What kind of personalities would such children develop when they became adults? Is it then a surprise that communities and nations are gradually being wiped out by terrorism?
There is really a very urgent need for everyone who is bothered by the spate of violence across the globe to be involved in promoting the purification of the parenting process by eliminating all aggressive practices. Peace is achievable in every human community through the effective and violent-free parenting approach.
- Uchenna N. Nduka