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
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
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