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.
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.
These pairs of words;’Creative and dynamic’, ‘Diligent and Lovely’, ‘Golden and Peaceful’, ‘Unique and Focused’ and ‘Smart and Godly’ distinctly refer to respective individuals among the children I closely nurtured. It was a dimension of the application of praise in parenting. Those words describe their salient personality traits respectively. Each pair of words encapsulated my perception of a particular child’s unique natural endowment, attitude-wise.
Can you imagine how much my little daughter embraced love in her personality formation each time I called her ‘my lady with a lovely heart’?
Interestingly, these words of praise, which I consistently used in my interaction with them have worked marvelously well in forming their personalities along the desired line.
This is not implying that children are angels. No, they are not. But it is a parenting blunder to call or describe children by their faults, weaknesses or past mistakes. It will yield no positive result, but would rather worsen any parenting case since children usually develop into what they are called or how they are described. For instance, a child who is always called a dunce because he failed an examination would likely not make good grades as long as he is called this name.
It is proper that in parenting, faults are skillfully corrected while virtues are reinforced and emphasized.
-Uchenna N. Nduka
I am a mother of three children aged between two and six years. I met Mrs. Nduka about two years ago as a colleague in the office. I immediately noticed that her passion for proper parenting was obvious in almost every discussion we held during our leisure times. I carefully put to good use the bits and pieces of parenting skills that she mentioned.
Previously my parenting approach was based on the handed down traditional practice and belief that children should necessarily be flogged for them to be wise. I therefore employed the parenting techniques I saw in my environment. I shouted, coerced, flogged, and was harsh with my children. Although my husband was skeptical initial I when I mentioned the idea of excluding the cane completely, we decided to give it a try.
The futility of the wrong methods is now obvious after we adopted the improved approach. We now patiently talk and listen to our children with love, praise them for good works, correct them with compassion, explain instructions carefully and create adequate time to chat with them.
We cherish the closeness we now enjoy as a family. Our children now wash dishes, sweep the house and perform other house chores with impressive results. The greatest of it all is that they now obey us willingly and with love, and this has laid a good foundation for a struggle-free parenting process.
- Mrs. Rose N Nwafor, Anambra, Nigeria
We hope to read many more great testimonies!
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A mother arrived at the children’s church on the Sunday after I gave a parenting talk in a women’s fellowship requesting to see me. She was looking harassed and unhappy. Her confession was that the message on that evening was for her because her parenting approach was exactly the one I condemned.
“If you see where I flog them, you will not believe that they are my biological children.” she said. Her children were then between two and ten years.
“Why do you flog them that way?” I asked rhetorically.
“I flog them to wash the plates, sweep the house and perform other house chores” she responded.
She further explained that she flogged them that way every day. I then asked her whether she would still need to flog them if they were made to comply with her instructions willingly. She concurred that the flogging would then not be necessary if they obeyed her. I could imagine the tense and illusory disciplinary environment she was struggling with in her home. Without asking further questions, I told her to withdraw threats, shouting in despair when giving instructions, flogging and all the pollutants I could remember. She said she rarely laughed with them. So I also asked her to increase her smiles. She was also reminded of the other parenting skills that were discussed. I told her to try out the new approach for a month and give me her feedback.
She came back a month later with a lot of smiles and excitement. Her testimony was that her children were more willing to obey her instructions. She said that they would happily await her return from work daily, perform those chores without coercion and were always willing to share their experiences during the day with her excitedly. She said that she was definitely going to continue with the new approach because it brought peace to her home.
Good parenting skills are worth giving a try. The results are really great!
Many years ago, my daughter could not contain the euphoria of her newfound ability to walk around the house. She was in a hurry to explore everything in the house. I was practically engaged full time, watching over her as long as she was awake! Thanks to ‘baby discs’ which provided a reliable distraction to contain her hyperactivity. It was not long, we noticed her great fascination and attraction for one particular item. Alas, and much to her frustration, she was never allowed to touch it. That was the kerosene lantern.
Communication on its dangers was pretty difficult as one can imagine with the child who was just a little over one year old! We simply made efforts, as parents, to protect her from the lantern when it was hot so that she would not experience a burn and also when it was cold so that she would not get black stains from the soot. Over a period of time we employed various strategies to prevent her from touching the lantern, including keeping the lantern up where her hands would not reach it, employing distraction, and blockage. All these seemed to feed her curiosity and she would always attempt to utilise any available opportunity to reach out for the lantern. Of course the situation almost generated a lot of anxiety on our part as parents because of the potential hazards.
Then one day the “rod of correction” was allowed to provide the discipline we desired in that situation. After the lantern was lit, the temperature was monitored for a few minutes. When the lantern was fairly hot, just enough to achieve the desired purpose, the child was given the freedom to touch it, under parental supervision. She did not get a burn when she touched it because the temperature of the lantern was not that hot, but she was immediately repelled and never wanted to have anything to do with the lantern for a long time!
- In the right disciplinary atmosphere, children would naturally learn from the results of their actions.
- Parents are usually advised to take protective measures to ensure that the health and safety of their children are not compromised, even on those occasions when it may be necessary to allow some learning experiences.
- Parents who spend enough time with their children would have the opportunity of providing the necessary guidance as children learn from their daily experiences in right atmosphere of love.
- It is not necessary to pollute the right atmosphere of discipline with the cane, whip, corporal punishment and the other pollutants that were highlighted in our reflection post of 7th Jan, 2016.