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
This incident happened when I was about twelve years old. I was sick throughout that day. I had a head ache and felt feverish. My parents ensured that I got proper medical attention immediately. The illness worsened towards evening time and my father kept checking on me to be sure that I was ok. I struggled to sleep in the night.
When I woke up in the middle of the night, I saw my father lying down on the floor. I got confused immediately and struggled to place my finger on what was really happening. Did he really leave the comfort of the bed in his room to lay down on the floor of my room just to be checking on me? Did that mean that he loved me? Really he did? Oh! A reciprocal love was excited in my heart that began the process of clearing the negative emotions generated by unnecessary personality criticism and sibling comparison. The then prevalent aggressive parenting practices did not help issues!
The fact that my father really loved me greatly became clearer from then on and he had it easier eliciting love and obedience in his interactions with me. One of the key hallmarks of a healthy parenting relationship – reciprocal love between parents and their children – became realised in my relationship with my father. The view that any parenting practice which stifles the effective communication of parental love to the children would work against the achievement of enduring obedience was evident in this development.
I get confused when I listen to the argument by a lot of people that aggression should be meted out in great measures to children in order to achieve obedience in an environment in which the prison yards are congested with people whose struggle with obedience and self-control got them into trouble; the mass media is replete with news of corrupt practices of politicians; the spate of social vices are alarming; hatred and terrorism are wiping out communities; examination malpractice is a national concern and achievement of obedience has remained elusive to many parents.
Effective parenting skills produce impressive results in an atmosphere of love and discipline. It demands that parents should model and communicate godly virtues of peace, disciple, diligence, selfless service, and love in all interactions with their children. Parents should be close enough to continually support the proper spiritual, physical, cognitive and social development of their children. In healthy parenting relationships, parents are expected to prayerfully get closer, love more, listen more and talk more with their children in their efforts to resolve any parenting difficulty. Improvement will surely be achieved with the right method.
-Uchenna N. Nduka
A female teacher, stood before a group of teenage students to tell them of the expectations of the school from them.
“Now listen!” She yelled.
“Girls will now have dinner by 6.30pm, while boys will have theirs by 7pm. This new rule is for your strict compliance!” She shouted.
“Your parents already know how stubborn you are. Many of you will surely have it very hard with me. As you are aware, punishments in this school are very severe.” She finally asserted.
Surely, the result she got from the students was rebellion. Of course she had a field day meting out punishment to her students and yet achieving little or nothing!
Another teacher in the same circumstance would handle it differently to achieve better results.
“Dear students, we have introduced a new rule which is for your security. Before now boys and girls had dinner together by 7pm. On the average, dinner lasted for about one hour thirty minutes. The girls will now have dinner by 6.30 pm; while the boys will have theirs by 7pm. Dinner for each group will last for only thirty minutes. The proposal for this change came from the security department and the management of this school approved it because it is in our own interest. So, from today the dinning bell will ring by 6.30pm for girls and 7pm for boys. Please everyone should obey this new rule which will start today.”
The first teacher made the announcement with a threat and negative remarks, while the second teacher made the same announcement persuasively and positively. Threats actually pollute the atmosphere of discipline at school or in the home and make children rebellious. Parents and teachers who communicate effectively and positively to children achieve better results than those who ignorantly foreclose obedience from the children through negative remarks. Negative remarks are unnecessary and do not achieve any positive result when talking to children.
Lucy was a girl of about seven years, the only child of her parents. A lady of about twenty five years old called Helen, was also living alone in an apartment in the building opposite Lucy’s compound. Helen started by calling Lucy pet names. She called her ‘my baby’, ‘my Lucy’, ‘my darling’ and’my sweetheart’. Helen also gave Lucy gifts on many occasions. Lucy’s parents understood Helen’s actions as pure show of kindness. They therefore allowed Lucy to freely visit and stay with Aunty Helen whenever she wanted. Over time, Helen’s house became a second home for Lucy and a strong affinity developed between the two of them.
Lucy’s parents created time on that day to honour the invitation for a private and urgent discussion by the headmistress of Lucy’s school. After exchanging pleasantries, the headmistress expresses her gratitude to them for arriving early for that meeting.
“Do you have a neighbour called Aunt Helen?” The headmistress asked.
“Yes.” They responded.
The headmistress then explained that a child in Lucy’s class reported to the class teacher that Lucy kissed her at the play ground during break. The teacher had to tactfully engage Lucy in a heart-to-heart discussion. Her discovery was that Lucy had been engaging in some sexual activities with Helen and had been exposed pornographic materials in Helen’s house.
Lucy’s parents broke down and wept profusely. They learnt the hard way the danger in the kind of intimate relationship between their daughter and Helen. Lucy’s mum went down memory lane to recall scenes that should have excited her suspicion! She regretted that she was not able to follow up on them properly.
“Will my daughter ever be the same again?” Lucy’s mum asked as her tears flowed freely.
After condoling with the child’s parents on their plight, the headmistress expressed optimism that Lucy will be restored if she is properly taken care of. She explained that they surely have a great role to play in her restoration process. The headmistress advised them to hold nothing against the child so that she would not be eaten up with guilt. They were counselled to create time to be more available for their daughter.They should get closer to her and embrace her with more love and attention.
The counsel from the headmistress obviously highlights the position of the passion in parenting blog that in all parenting challenges, parents should prayerfully get closer, listen more, talk more and love more.
Sometimes I recall the real-life stories students told in our secondary school days. The events in some of the stories are still clear, especially the stories in which the children were harassed. Many of the stories of harassment occurred when the children spent their holidays outside their homes.
A girl once recounted how she had a full view of the bedroom intimacy of a couple she spent her holidays with several times when they thought she was asleep in the night. It was obvious that her parents were careful to keep such private marital affairs from their children. They would be shocked to discover how much damage a few days or weeks of holiday their daughter had outside their home has caused to her proper physical, social, psychological and cognitive development.
There were many such stories. A girl recounted how a cousin who spent a holiday period in her house sexually harassed her during the day when her parents were not around. A boy said he was hit with a stick and he lost an eye in a relation’s house during a holiday period. There was also a story told by a girl on how she was quickly recalled by her parents after she was harassed by her sister’s husband during a holiday period.
My opinion is that every child’s holiday opportunity should be thoroughly reviewed before it is accepted. The review will throw up some critical questions that would beam parents’ search light on the intending holiday home environment to reveal its suitability.
- Does the intending holiday home have family values that are consistent with the child’s family values?
- Will a responsible adult be available to take care of the children (night and day) during the holiday?
- Is the holiday home environment properly regulated and restricted in terms of access to television, movies and telephones?
- Have the children been educated on how to quickly identify, firmly resist, and urgently report sexual advances? Education against sexual abuse is a necessity for children of all ages before embarking on any holiday.
- Is the holiday environment child friendly? I am sure no parent will expose a child to a holiday environment where he would lose an eye as a result of the beating he will receive for telling a ‘lie’.
A holiday opportunity will be worthwhile if the parents have a reasonable assurance that the children will be left in the care of a responsible adult with integrity in a safe and healthy environment. Parents should please refuse any holiday request that may expose their children to harmful experiences.
-Uchenna N. Nduka
The brace of endless love is a parent with an unshakable resolve to continuously remain supportive to all aspects of the child’s development until the child develops into a disciplined adult. This therefore implies that a great parent is always close enough to observe and evaluate a child’s opinion, behaviour and contribution on all issues of life as a feedback for proper follow up. A parent’s feelings, opinion, commendation or reservation about a child’s behaviour must necessarily be properly and effectively communicated to provide guidance for proper development of the child. Criticism is therefore an essential instrument in a healthy parenting process.
If properly applied in its pure form, criticism is constructive otherwise, it can be destructive.The following contrasts are noteworthy.
||Healthy Criticism (Pure)
||Unhealthy Criticism (Impure)
||Communication is interactive
||Communication is overbearing
||It is done hopefully and faithfully
||It is done with despair.
||It is done with self-control.
||Communication is clogged with manifestation of negative emotions.
||Expectation of the parent from the child is realistic and corresponds with the child’s ability.
||Parent’s expectation from the child is unrealistic
||The parent patiently explains a better approach or process in the language the child will understand
||Parents have little or no time for detailed explanation.
||It does not condemn the child. The wrong action is condemned.
||The child is condemned and described with negative words.
||It recognises that every child is unique and lives a space for the unique and positive expression of the child’s unique personality disposition.
||It expects every child to fit into the same personality mold.
||It does not withhold praise or commendation when it is earned.
||It criticises almost everything the child does.
||Achieves great parenting results with disciplined children.
||Creates resentment and rebellion. The child’s situation usually worsens.
A parent’s ability to handle the instrument of criticism can make or mar a child’s future. Great parents criticise wisely for proper mental, social, physical and spiritual development of their children.
-Uchenna N. Nduka
The parenting process actually prepares an individual to use wisely the freedom to make choices. Great parents give age-appropriate spaces for children to make choices and learn from the outcomes of those choices. If every life experience is seen as an examination, the rod and reward are indicators of examination scores of the related choices and actions.
Rewards are the favourable outcomes of the right choices and actions. They include achievement of targets, conflict resolution, provision of a need, recognition, promotion, gifts, awards, fulfillment of desires, commendation, peace of mind, freedom and so on. All these function to reinforce right actions.
Wrong actions lead to unfavourable outcomes. The unfavourable outcomes are the rod of discipline. They include loss in all its ramifications, progress stagnation, demotion, worsening of a problem, fine, penalty, emotional and physical pain, imprisonment and so on. A real life example is the experiences of an unmarried teenage secondary school girl who discovers that she is pregnant without a responsible partner. The emotional and physical trauma of the realisation that her education will be truncated, her health will be endangered, her social life will be disrupted and she will deliver a child she is not mature enough to cater for is a rod already too big for her to bear alone. Such a child would need the support of those around her to cope with her calamity. Flogging her with whip or cane will be an act of ignorance. The discomforts of the rod make the related choices and actions unattractive in the future. Parents should note the following about the rod.
- The rod is a natural flow of events. Parents don’t have to initiate the rod experience. Parents who successfully communicate this to their children help them to stay away from evil even when they are not being watched by anyone.
- Overbearing and protective parents can shield children from the rod hence the admonition that parents should allow the rod of discipline. Yes, the right measure of it should be allowed.
- The rod does not mean, and need not necessarily include the cane, whip and other forms of corporal punishment. Corporal punishment introduces pollution in the parenting process. It can be described as a tool for the unskilled.
The parenting environment is a prototype of the whole life experiences of the child. The life principle that right actions are rewarded, while the rod is always there to correct wrong actions anywhere and anytime holds true for children, youth and adults. Children who have good understanding of this develop into conscientious adults.
-Uchenna N. Nduka