We were all in a happy mood that evening relishing the family reunion in our big family house when we heard a cry from the children’s corner. Shortly afterwards, the crying child walked in, still sobbing, towards his mum. He was about six years old. Immediately he walked in, everybody’s attention was on him to find out was the problem was.
“Victor hit me on my hand and my ice cream poured away” the child explained.
On hearing his name, the countenance of Victor’s mum fell. In a twinkle of an eye, she discussed her son’s faults without restraint and the efforts she has made in futility to address those faults. Victor was about seven years old. She told us how mischievous and incorrigible Victor was. She also said that Victor the worst among her four children.
My heart skipped when I realised the possibility that Victor could be around listening to his mother’s negative comments. I actually walked around and it was true! Victor was in lonely corner, quietly listening to our discussions!
The scene described above is a common one in my environment. Any time I observe parents commit this blunder, my thoughts are provoked in many directions. In the case of Victor’s mum, was she trying to confirm the child’s claim against her son even without hearing her son’s version of the story? Was she trying to prove to us, her relations and neighbours that her son is always wrong? Would her constant condemnation of her son at that age in that manner help achieve improvement in the child’s behaviour? Would her open declaration that her child was a bad child be in her child’s interest?
The reaction of Victor’s mum above showed frustration. It is possible she was frustrated because the ‘efforts’ she made to help her son did not yield the desired result. Who knows if she was making the right efforts? The clouds created by sibling comparison are also an issue that could cause confusion and frustration in the parenting relationship between Victor and his mum. Whatever the issue was, it was unnecessary to discuss a child’s faults openly in that context and manner because of its negative consequences. It may lead to low morale and self esteem, negative branding and formation of negative personality traits, false accusation and unfair treatment of the child by his teachers and other adults, abandonment and neglect by the child’s caregivers.
We should recall that our recommendation for discussions to correct a child’s wrong behaviour is that parents should talk more with the child, listen more to the child and pray more for the child in privacy. Even rebuke, when necessary, in child-training is effective when it is done in privacy.
Yes, passionate parents go for the parenting methods that are effective.
-Uchenna N. Nduka