A man once told his story. He was ready to make sacrifices to ensure that his children were well-developed morally and academically. He realised that he was greatly handicapped due to his upbringing. Conscience as well as proper cognitive development of children was not given attention in his society. He said that he and most other children in his neighbourhood grew up with the understanding that life was a game of chance. As children, their consideration in taking any action then was whether one would be caught in the act and the severity of the punishment that would be meted out if caught. Nothing else mattered! Most of them ended up becoming dexterous in performing wrong acts without being caught and stronger at enduring the punishment when caught.
By the time he grew up, he felt on top of the world. No one could intimidate him into taking any action against his will. That was the beginning of the woes. He became very excited at his freedom from the clutches of his parents and moved at a very high speed. Not quite long, before his twenty-third birthday, his bubble burst – he got sentenced to prison. Although his body was filled with scars, each telling a tragic story, none could be compared to the emotional torture in prison for the whole year he spent there.
It was in prison that his restoration to normalcy commenced. It was there he learnt he could willingly put his hands and brain to positive use, trusting God. His heart learnt to understand and give love. He learnt respect for and obedience to the prison authorities. He understood he had a choice to make between good and evil. He needed no further proof of the consequences of evil, but the reward of good choices was consistently revealed. He was happy that the discipline he could not acquire as a child due to his upbringing was achieved in prison.
When he came out of the prison, he took a critical look at the children in his neighbourhood where he was raised and became convinced that most of them were headed towards the same calamity that befell him. He was so dissatisfied with the degenerated societal values that he made efforts to make a difference in the lives of his children. He limited his children’s interaction with the bad eggs in his neighbourhood and ensured that they were separated from the environment that almost destroyed him. His children stayed in boarding houses in good secondary schools.
He has tried to be committed in his relationship with his children and hopes to learn more effective parenting skills so that the output of his parenting efforts will be fruitful. He was willing to learn and adopt an improved approach and not insist on any traditional parenting practice which confused him and most of his friends as children. He has understood that for him to get it right with his children, he has to make love and discipline his lifestyle and firmly and consistently communicate same to his children.
Yes! Great parents are ever learning to achieve great parenting results.
Happy second year anniversary to all lovers, readers and followers of the Passion in Parenting blog
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 was in the staff room that morning when I noticed a group of three teachers interacting with a female student who was about fifteen years old. I was a teacher in that secondary school at that time. I observed that the girl was telling a heart-rending story. At a point, I was invited by one of the teachers to listen to the girl’s story and suggest a solution. One of the teachers said she initiated that discussion because she noticed marks of violence on the girl’s body.
Our student left her village where she lived with her biological parents to stay in the township with her aunt’s family because her parents didn’t have the resources to care for her. Her aunt was a banker who had two children. Her aunt’s children were attending a nearby nursery school. Our student was therefore expected to assist her aunt’s family with domestic chores. The scars on her body were as a result of the beating she always got for not meeting the expectations of her aunt. She got beatings from either her aunt or her aunt’s husband.
In handling her case, we were conscious of the peculiarities and limitations in our environment. We did not resort to searching for a reliable governmental welfare facility or affordable legislative redress procedure for children in such situations. Moreover, the girl in question told us that she still wanted to stay with her aunt instead of going back to her village to stay with her parents. We therefore decided to take her through a counselling session that was aimed at achieving improvement in her relationship with her aunt’s family.
At the end of the counselling, our student’s ability to understand her aunt’s domestic and career challenges was enhanced. She understood the nature of the parenting relationship she had with her aunt and the right inputs that were needed from her to achieve peace. We assisted her in organising her daily chores more effectively so that she would also give attention to her studies. It worked. Her aunt’s dissatisfaction with her behaviour and the associated punishments reduced substantially within a few days.
Parents should understand that children are more responsive to instructions when issues and procedures are well explained. Time should be created to patiently explain to children family challenges and the roles the children should play to assist. Yelling, rebellion and violence are negative features of parenting relationships in which there is communication breakdown. The story above shows the counselling role professional school teachers can play in assisting parents with child training challenges. Counselling is a preferred approach in coping with parenting difficulties instead of endlessly resorting to violence.
At a point, the thought of getting my seven-year old child to complete her home work became a nightmare. She was always sluggish and un-cooperative. She would just cry with little or no result.
One day, I remembered to apply a parenting skill I read in a book. The skill was a motivational technique of ordering children’s activities in a way that the activities they have reluctance for what would come after the ones they have preference for. I then swapped the timing of watching her favourite television station with her home work time. It worked like magic! I was surprised at the speed and zeal with which she completed her home works before watching the television. I learnt to make play and entertainment activities come after the less preferred chores.
I have observed with regret the wrong application of the reordering strategy on occasions where children have been starved or denied education because they were ‘stubborn’ or could not complete domestic chores that were obviously beyond their abilities. It is therefore necessary that I state clearly that the essential necessities of life such as education, water, food and moderate rest/play should not be denied any child for any reason. Such denial would be inhuman and would not yield any positive result.
Children really need a lot of support from teachers and parents. Excellent results are obtained whenever the right support is provided in the right direction in the right peaceful and lovely atmosphere.
-Uchenna N. Nduka
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.
There is a lot to learn from this parenting story.
This girl arrived in my house when she was about 12 years old. She was a child of an extended family member. Low self-esteem and inconsistency were palpable in her behavior. Her parents were known to be zealous on the use of verbal and physical aggression as disciplinary measures. So her background was such that her parents would usually make threats to coerce children into obedience.
She must have initially wondered at our assuring smiles and our mutual love which guided our actions and decisions. She was quite fast in adjusting to my home environment. She keyed in immediately into the relationship I had with my children. The children I had at that time were between four and six years.
Within a few weeks, her countenance became brighter. The anger and frustration in her communication became gradually reduced. She stopped expecting to be shackled into obedience with threats and aggression when she saw that no one was going to do that anymore. She really found a comfortable place in the atmosphere of discipline in my home.
Her father’s observation during a family reunion in our family house in the village a few months later was that she was no longer hot-tempered but was lovelier. Her father also observed that she was more malleable and happier. Her parents must have also wondered at how she could obey the instructions I humbly and calmly gave. The fact that my gentle disciplinary measures such as a frowning at a wrong behaviour or rebuke could work with her was beyond their comprehension.
The adoption of any parenting approach is a choice. The right and effective approach works well with children of all races, tribes, religion and background. It is never too late to embrace it.
-Uchenna N. Nduka
A parent shared this encouraging experience. Please read and share.
There was a day my daughter was waiting in my office after school. I became too engrossed with work that I did not notice when she became the ‘busy bee’ that kids usually are at her age. She was five years old.
She went beyond the allowable boundaries of play and a valuable item was damaged. She was the first to notice it. She immediately walked towards me with the damaged item soberly.
‘I am very sorry mummy. The paper punch has spoilt. It was my fault” she said with a palpable feeling of remorse.
“Oh! No!” I exclaimed.
“Why did you play with it? Did I not give you toys?” I asked with dissatisfaction.
“I am sorry mummy. I am very sorry” she pleaded.
She left the spoilt paper punch on my table, walked to a quiet corner in my office and sat down calmly.
I continued with my work since that was actually one of my peak periods. I was not aware that she was studying my mood until I saw her standing in front of me five minutes later.
“I really made you angry mummy. Have you forgiven me?” were her words that rekindled the love we both shared.
I drew her close and gave her a passionate hug. I assured her that I had forgiven her and was no longer angry. My facial expression gave her the confidence to go back to her usual radiance. She then smiled and left.
I however noticed that after that incidence, she was very careful not to touch any item in my office without my permission. She played with her toys.
- In a healthy parenting relationship, the flow of communication between parents and their children is filled with love, patience, empathy and sound logic. Here, children are raised to be lovely, intelligent and conscientious.
- It is not true that children should be flogged before they learn a lesson. Without legislative prohibition, flogging children is a personal choice and not a necessity. Passionate parents who have effective parenting skills have achieved great results without flogging their children.
- It should be recalled that flogging (corporal punishment) was listed among the pollutants to the right atmosphere of discipline in our reflection post of 7th January, 2016.
Passionate parents are in control of their emotions and communicate effectively with the child even in the face of provocation.