A disciplinary confusion is not so easy to identify in a school because teachers in such schools are always seen coercing or threatening students with force and aggression to make them perform one activity or the other. School and class prefects have to necessarily bully other children to extract obedience to simple instructions. It is a common sight, and in fact seems right for pupils and students to always be found crying, pleading or serving one form of punishment or the other even while academic activities are going on.
This situation is even worse in primary schools where activity-based teaching methods are no longer used, while children are expected to behave like adults and always made to feel guilty of noise-making. I had to complain at some point to the school authorities because almost all of the children in a nursery class of school were always told to kneel down, close their eyes and raise their hands up when parents came to pick their children after school. The teacher’s explanation when I asked was that they were always making noise.
Teachers in such environments are always heard making negative comments about children and talking in anger and frustration. Love and confidence in student-teacher relationships are usually at the lowest level. Students resent their teachers and learning is negatively affected. Despite the ‘efforts’ of teachers, acts of rebellion are common among the students in such a school. No wonder such schools would usually always describe her graduating students as ‘stubborn’ and also accommodate one form of exam malpractice or the order from the students during external exams.
The way forward for any school at the disciplinary turning point is a reorientation of its educational philosophies and methodologies, change to the non-abusive and acceptable disciplinary approach, training and re-training of teachers, and close monitoring of teachers to ensure that they fully comply with the prescribed improved method. A school in transition to the better method should be ready to contend with the actions of some teachers who would device strategies to resist change and make comments that would imply that the improved method would not work.
Readers should watch out for more on this topic.
-Uchenna N. Nduka
My interaction with Andrew, a disciple of the effective parenting approach is worth sharing. Andrew grew up in an environment in which bullying was the predominant parenting tool in the homes, schools and society. Expectedly, he commenced its application immediately his first child arrived. He believed that he had to necessarily drum instructions into a child’s ears in order to achieve results. He therefore started yelling at his first daughter even before she started talking.
“It was really frustrating because most times I had to scream my head off or use the whip to get my children to obey simple instructions” Andrew confessed.
“At first when my wife and I got tips on how to effectively raise disciplined children, we thought they weren’t going to work for our children. In fact, my first attempt at talking to my children with my ‘chatting’ voice was like a joke to them. I didn’t get the result I wanted because they thought I was not serious!” He further explained.
Andrew said that he explored more learning opportunities on effective parenting strategies and achieved improvement in his parenting skills. Eventually, he and his wife were able to gradually withdraw bullying and abusive parenting practices and replaced them with the preferred ones. Over a period of time, his children understood and embraced the improved parenting relationship he introduced. His children are becoming increasingly responsive to his chatting voice and instructions. It is a big relief to Andrew that the era of always talking harshly when relating with his children is over.
Parents should never yield to the discouraging thought or argument that a decent and effective parenting practice will not work in their homes. The reality is that children helplessly react or adjust to whatever approach parents adopt, and can always adapt to any change. How swiftly children will adapt to a change to improved parenting approach will depend on how much parenting skill and knowledge parents have acquired.
The window of learning should never be shut as far as parenting is concerned. Parents should keep learning, practising and sharing the preferred and more effective approach.
-Uchenna N. Nduka
I strolled down my street to buy something from a nearby shop on a Saturday morning. When I got to the shop, I observed that the owner was a woman who was assisted by her teenage son. The boy was holding a broom to sweep the surroundings of the shop. He was about to start sweeping when his mother instructed him to start from the opposite direction. The boy hesitated and then ignored his mother’s instruction and continued sweeping. When his mum noticed that her instruction was not obeyed, she yelled at him to stop sweeping from that point and go over to the other side. The boy stopped sweeping and murmured while making daring gestures. Suddenly, his mum picked up a big aluminium scoop and charged at him.
“If you don’t go over to the other side I will throw this scoop at you!” His mum roared hysterically. The boy quickly ran to the other side of the compound and started sweeping as if he was remote-controlled.
Even though the boy’s quick response almost forestalled my objection to his mother’s threat, I still expressed my reservation. Her explanation revealed further the extent of her struggles with her son. She said that it was almost impossible to get her son to obey any instruction without such threats. I wondered at what she was really saying. Did she teach him how to sweep correctly and why he should sweep from a particular direction? Was she saying that her son’s personality was so underdeveloped (spiritually, mentally, emotionally and socially) that force and threats of violence must be used to make him obey instructions? If that was what she was saying, then there was real danger looming in the air.
The danger in this kind of situation is that if nothing is done to intervene and achieve improvement in the boy’s relationship with his mum he may develop into a rebellious and violent adult personality. At a point, he may stop responding to her threats and damn the consequences. On the other hand, his mum may become frustrated, throw in the towel and abandon him to his fate. The street children in our environment are evidences of such mishaps. I therefore left that shop with a big burden of how that woman could be helped to improve on positively communicating with her son and adopting a parenting approach that will ensure that her son is effectively developed physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually and socially into a responsive and responsible adult.
There is an urgent call on every informed parent to mentor adults in his/her neighbourhood and community. Schools should also be diligent in providing proper parenting guides for parents through the PTA meetings. Religious organisations should also be involved in preaching and teaching proper parenting skills.
Uchenna N. Nduka
Children may easily be shackled into whatever behaviour adults deem fit, but the paradigm for reckoning in any society on the propriety of its parenting beliefs and approaches is the extent of discipline achieved in the adults that have been raised over a period of time. A studied look at the disciplinary content of the average behaviour of adults raised in a particular society will surely inform the way forward on the necessary improvements to make on the prevailing parenting practices. It may be necessary to ask such questions as: Are political leaders disciplined? Are government ministries and parastatals administered with honesty and discipline? Are adults so disciplined as to willingly obey law and order without being seriously closely marked by various law enforcement agencies? What is the trend in prison congestion? What is the trend in crime rate? Is that society generally secure and peaceful?
It is really worrisome where the personalities of adults in a society are formed in such a way that only a few can be trusted to manage public funds without the mass media being littered with news about corrupt practices and looted fund recovery. The prisons are congested and crime is on the increase. If in security is rising and peaceful coexistence is elusive, then the heart of such a society shouldn’t just bleed and her tears freely flow at these alarming dimensions of rebellious manifestations. Such a society is truly at the turning point and its parenting and educational processes require urgent overhauling.
This is food for thought for those who passionately administer wrong violent and abusive parenting practices for mainly cultural purposes. Societies that have established standard parenting and educational laws and practices have better stories to tell. A parenting approach will be effective if parents are sufficiently available to model discipline and provide the right support and guidance for the proper development of their children. Therefore, our little individual efforts at ensuring that the parents in our respective communities apply effective parenting skills will surely help in reducing crime, violence and corruption. Workshops and seminars should be organised to teach the right standards of practice to parents, teachers and care-givers of children. Yes, it will greatly help in achieving the kind of improvement that will transform a dysfunctional society into the kind of societies with admirable and functional systems.
Uchenna N. Nduka
Clem was the first son of his parents. Expectations from him to be of good behaviour and make a success of whatever he did were high. All eyes were on him to set good standards for his siblings. He struggled through his childhood to live up to the high expectations until he stepped on a banana peel in his adolescent period. His relationship with his parents turned sour. Anxiety heightened and all corrective measures adopted by his parents seemed to be failing. He became greatly delinquent and took to the streets.
He was on the streets for some months until some relations intervened and started the process of reconciling him with his parents. Surprisingly, his parents were not favourably disposed to the reconciliation move as a result of their belief that Clem would never truly repent. When his parents chose to relate with him at arm’s length, Clem had to struggle through life without palpable parental guidance. He became emotionally alienated from his parents and siblings.
Eventually, in their adult years, Clem became a thorn in the flesh to his siblings even long after the death of their parents. His personality was greatly underdeveloped. He could barely take care of his family. He kept frustrating every move for peace and progress among his siblings. He turned their joint heritage and moments of joy and celebration into platforms for rancour and confusion.
There is a lesson to be learned from Clem’s story. Parents should remain the brace of endless love even in the face of challenges. We recommend that parents should prayerfully love more, get closer to the child, listen more and talk more with the child in order to cope with any issue bordering on child-upbringing. Wise parents should be proactive in laying a foundation of love and harmony among their children to forestall siblings’ rivalry. A passionate parent forgives his child even before the child asks for forgiveness so that he will be close enough to the child to continue his parenting role. Excluding any child from the canopy of parental love is a condemnable act which would likely result in the deterioration of any child-development issue.
Uchenna N. Nduka
The teacher’s comments may be:
Oh! There is something terribly wrong with your child!
Your child surprisingly made the best result in her class
Your child is careless. He lost all his books and personal belongings.
Your child was not serious at all during this term. She didn’t submit most of her assignments!
Your child kept serving punishment for various offenses.
Your child is the only one in my class who cannot write all the letters of the alphabet.
Whatever the teacher’s comment may be about a child (positive or negative), whatever academic result a child obtains (poor or excellent),a passionate parent should tactfully and patiently get closer, love more and talk more with the child in order to get into the innermost thoughts of a child to achieve firsthand knowledge of his or her activities and experiences while in school.
The holiday period avails parents and their children wonderful opportunities to share experiences. Parents should be able to extract information about school experiences from the child in a relaxed atmosphere. It may even be at the playground. In the process of close interaction with the child, a great parent will have clearer appreciation the child’s challenges while in school as well as areas in which the child improved or declined in all aspects of the child’s development.
The child should be commended for improvements achieved. Parental support should be provided in the areas of decline after a proper diagnosis of the contributing factors. For instance, a parent may consider changing school for a child if the present school’s service delivery standard is low, holiday lessons could be arranged to provide support for the child in weak subjects, the child can be helped in organising a daily routine timetable and cupboards with locks can be provided to help curb loss of personal items.
Parents should therefore cherish and utilize every holiday moment as a great parenting opportunity. It is therefore not proper for children to always be sent on holiday visits to distance places. As much as possible, parents’ leave periods should be planned to coincide with the periods when children are on holidays.
-Uchenna N. Nduka
As a prefect in my secondary days, I was coordinating a school activity for junior students when I noticed that a particular student had ugly scars in place of three of her left fingers. My heart was stirred. When I came into close contact with her, she told me about the incident that resulted in the loss of her fingers.
“The story I heard was that the incidence happened when I was a toddler. I was with my senior sister who was breaking a raw bonny lump of beef with an axe. I was told that she warned me not to collect the pieces of meat until she finished cutting. She had already hit my hand with the axe before she noticed that I suddenly put out my hand to collect a piece of meat. I lost three of my fingers” she explained.
Oh no! She lost three of her fingers in such an avoidable circumstance! Although I tried to control my emotion, I could not but ponder over some confusing questions. Was there no responsible adult around to take the necessary safety precautions? Was a toddler capable of obeying the instruction in that story?
It was a case of child neglect. It is wrong to blame the child in such incident for disobedience to the given instruction. She was yet too young to comprehend the implication of disobeying such an instruction. As a toddler, the will power and concentration to obey the instruction was beyond her ability. A safe option a responsible adult should have in such a circumstance would have been to keep her a safe distance away from where the beef was being cut.
Parents who understand the developmental peculiarities and limitations of children have realistic expectations in their interaction with their children. Such parents struggle less with their children and take necessary safety measures against accidents. Their children are allowed to gradually develop, and are not distracted with unnecessary blame and criticism arising from targets that are beyond their abilities.
-Uchenna N. Nduka