The Children’s Playground: Not a Safe Haven

We were about four adults waiting to be attended to in an office. Then suddenly, one of us received a disturbing phone call about his child which sparked off a discussion on child training. Unknown to us, one of us was actually battling with the dramatic negative result he got after all his ‘efforts’ to train his children. No wonder he didn’t participate much in that educative interaction on the proper parenting approach.

“The peer pressure will eventually make a mess of all these efforts you people are making” the man said pensively. All the comments he made implied disillusionment and frustration with the whole parenting process. His children were all either adults or in their late teens. He was not happy that most of them abandoned parental instructions and chose pervasive ways.

When I pried further into his situation, I discovered that the environment he stayed in when his children were small was a hamlet where children interacted without any restriction. Parents were mostly artisans who struggled to make ends meet. When they were not in school, the children were usually gathered either on the playground or in any house or place in the neighbourhood which had facility for watching films or playing with electronic toys. The undoing of the man in question was that he underestimated the extent of the peer pressure influence and pollution that could exist in such environment even among the toddlers!

The reality is that the children’s playground is not a safe haven. Every person or thing at  the playground could be an agent of pollution! Children therefore need parental guidance even at the playground and when films are being watched. In healthy parenting relationships, parents are close enough to immediately identify the nature and extent of pollution and peer pressure their children are exposed to in order to strategise towards checking and minimising their effects. To cope with this situation, parents should strive  to minimise the children’s contact with the agents of pollution and be available and close enough to immediately clarify and correct wrong information from such unavoidable contact.  The following parenting tips will be helpful in achieving this.

  1. Inculcate discipline in the children’s daily routine. The time and duration of play activities should be stipulated and enforced.
  2. The allowable play grounds should be well-defined. Safe play grounds are well-illuminated, close to the children’s houses and noiseless. Children should be instructed to avoid hidden and dark corners in a compound. Houses or corners in the neighbourhood with loud sounds from electronic equipment or generators should be avoided by the children while playing. Playgrounds that are far from the house should not be allowed.
  3. Parents should exercise caution in cases where a child’s relationship with any adult becomes intimate and private.
  4. Children’s play activities should be done on the allowed playground. Parents should discourage the practice of children playing in their neighbour’s houses.
  5. Film and electronic toys available to the children should be carefully examined by parents in order to exclude pollution from evil contents.
  6. Children’s access to the internet should be restricted and guided.
  7. Parents should spend time with their children daily. Children learn a lot from the stories of life experiences of their parents, folktales and intimate discussions with their parents.
  8. Housemaids or hired helps who have questionable characters should be disengaged. Relations should be of good characters for them to be allowed to stay with children. Such people should not be given unrestricted right to punish children so that the children can effectively resist any negative influence from them.
  9. Parents should be careful in selecting schools for their children. Schools with antecedents of producing rebellious children should be avoided. Also, schools that emphasise corporal punishment instead of professional student-teacher relationship should be avoided.
  10. The negative influence from the mass media will be reduced if parents are available to monitor the programmes that their children are exposed to.

It needs to be emphasised that a healthy parenting relationship positions a parent well in a child’s life to win the struggle between the establishment of the right behavioural values and the negative influences of peer and environmental pressure. Surely, through the mercies of God, a skilled parent will win this struggle.

 

-Uchenna Ṇ. Nduka

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