As a child, I remember that on many occasions, especially in the village environment, I heard adults request for caution to be applied on an issue or an action to be put on hold because children were around. The traditional societies were very protective of the ideologies, knowledge and practices that children were exposed to. The fact that child training then was everybody’s responsibility provided the drive for societies to set up structures to achieve this purpose even at the communal level. The implication of this was that conscious efforts were made to expose children to activities that would provide reinforcement for desired societal values of love, discipline, self control, hard work, peace and sanctity of the human life. Children were thus shielded from a lot of obscene and violent practices.
No doubt, the absorbent mind of a child functions with urgency, and makes the issue of practices and experiences children are exposed to a critical one. For instance, societies and nations in which children have unrestricted access to events (live or recorded) where human beings are slaughtered as result of personal, family, or communal conflicts face the risk of genocide in the future. Children in such societies may grow up to be people who will quickly resort to murder in settling issues or challenges of life.
This practice of being careful of the things children are allowed to view or hear is really worthy of emulation and is applicable even in the modern world. This explains why television programmes that are safe for children are classified as such. This also advises the actions of careful parents, who take time to watch children games and read their books, to be sure that they are free from negative contents before they are released to the children.
In that regard, nations that are faced with violent communal conflicts should hasten up with peaceful resolution, otherwise violence will be so etched in the minds of the children that they will grow up to be aggressive adults and resort to violence at the slightest provocation.
It is therefore important that efforts should be made to create parenting environments where love, discipline and other godly virtues are practised. In other words, exposure of children to events that will lay foundation of hatred, violence and attraction to social vices should be avoided for positive personality development and peaceful co-existence.
-Uchenna N. Nduka
I was giving a message in a gathering of children aged between one and eight years old when I noticed one adult going round the class. Initially I was too deeply engaged in the message to take particular notice of what she was doing. Suddenly, I fixed my gaze on her and noticed that she was slapping the children on their cheeks. When I got closer, I observed that some of them had misty eyes. Her explanation was that they were talking while I was teaching. I called her aside and told her not to slap them. She decided not to be part of the class and left immediately. It was obvious that she was stopped from applying the only skill she had on how to work with children.
Many teachers have refused to work with children because their parents complained about unnecessary aggressive behaviours towards the children. Usually, such teachers would give up all efforts at assisting the child to learn and may even go as far as orchestrating confusion around the child’s academic progress to prove that aggression must necessarily be allowed in order to achieve progress with the child.
Like the biblical Sampson who lost his strength when his hair was shaved, some care givers and teachers lose their whole drive and strength to assist a child in situations where they are required to apply the motivational and positive approach to child care and education. This situation is unfortunate and can be quite frustrating to any child.
The ownership of schools and child care centers should stick to sound and effective child training and educational methods ensure that teachers are properly trained and put in place quality control strategies which will forestall theapplication of substandard practices by deviant teachers.
-Uchenna N Nduka
Educators who have sound knowledge of the pedagogy of education would agree with me that children learn from practice and experience. No wonder proven educational philosophies such as Montessori lays emphasis on a prepared environment for learning. Therefore, children will be developed to exude love in interpersonal relationships if they are raised in environments where love is encouraged and practised and they are exposed to experiences outside their immediate environments where love is expressed and hate is discouraged.
There were many admirable features of the olden days’ communities where people appreciably found peace with themselves and accommodated strangers with love. Two are discussed below.
- Children observed and participated in actions that depicted care and love for domestic animals. It was common to acquire chicks and have each child take the responsibility of caring for and nurturing one to maturity. I can still remember my little friends then crying when their chickens or goats were slaughtered during festive periods. Some would have so cared for such animals that they would actually refuse to eat from such meals because of the affinity they establish with them. Such natural resources were helpful for emotional and intellectual development of children. Children were also privileged to acquire skills that could be commercialised in their adult lives.
- Most children were available to care for their old grandparents and other aged relations in their neighbourhood. Caring was indeed a way of life which children effortlessly imbibed. There were enough activities, events and practices that etched care and love for nuclear and extended family member deeply in the minds of children. We should recall that parental guidance was almost always available since aged grandparents were around even when young parents were busy with economic and other activities. Children did not have access to violence and hate-infested media reports and electronic resources.
Parents are now facing a lot of challenges in the area of developing children to love and care for other people because the social, economic and political environments are getting quite confusing and hatred prone.
Parents who are passionate and committed to giving their children their best should therefore not toy with the ‘prepared environment’ concept and accept the fact that they should create time to be available to guide their children properly. Parents who are busy with their career should take time to select child-care centers and schools that have what it takes in terms of educational philosophy, physical and well-monitored managerial structures to establish and sustain the right ‘prepared environment’ for proper child development emotionally, intellectually, socially, spiritually and physically. It is advisable for parents to spend holiday periods with their children or be sure to conduct proper integrity check of people and environment in any intending holiday home before releasing children to spend holiday periods outside the home. Children should not be allowed access to hate-infested materials, groups and activities.
The olden days’ traditional parenting environment was rich with natural learning resources on love. This is no longer obtainable in our environment of today. Parents are therefore now challenged to be available and establish strategies to provide the right love-enriched environment for proper development of children.
-Uchenna N. Nduka
Happy New year everyone! Year 2018 will be great!
The year-end break was really fun in the village. People in my part of the world look forward to the usual family reunion during the Christmas and New Year celebrations. We really made the best out of the remnants of the erstwhile communal living in an atmosphere of love and trust in the village environment. Communal interaction is gradually becoming individualistic. Divergent emerging religious persuasions are gradually creating mistrust, suspicion and divisive tendencies in different aspects of our communal life, even among members of the same family. Increasing crime rate has worsened this situation.
The traditional communal parenting structure has also been negatively affected. In the olden days, the aged grandparents in every family were the custodians of family values and also the key drivers of the parenting process, while younger parents were busy with economic activities. The aged parents were great storytellers and children learnt a lot from them in an atmosphere of love. Child-training then was a communal responsibility. Presently, the aged parents are either not available to provide the necessary parenting support or have lost their grip on the process due to the increasing negative socio-religious sentiments and the struggle by the younger generation to keep pace with modernisation.
It is expected that over time, improvement would be achieved in the traditional practices in every field of human existence such as health, technology and education. Effective practices are retained, while harmful and ineffective ones are dropped. For instance, our traditional health attendants have improved a lot in their medical practices. My worry is the lopsided insistence on stagnation in the traditional parenting practices. Is it not surprising that most people who argue about traditional parenting practices only remember violence to children?
Well, our blog posts this year will expound the positive aspects of our traditional parenting process, and provide a guide on how to effectively resist and deal with adults in our institutions, families and communities who are desperate and insistent on violence against children.
-Uchenna N. Nduka
Purifying the parenting process has been the focus of the Passion in Parenting blog this year. Truly, great results would usually be realised if purity is improved on the part of parental and societal values as well as parenting approach. These three key factors in the parenting process are very much dependent on the knowledge and good conscience of parents. It is now clearer to us that the true test of discipline in children is not the uneasy calm they manifest when they are within the sphere of attention/influence of bullies. What should count in assessing parenting results is the extent of self-discipline a child acquires and applies as part of his daily life. On a wider perspective, what should count in assessing the parenting results in a community is the extent of discipline and creativity most adults raised in the community are able to apply in their daily lives. Therefore, the emphasis of child-training should not necessarily be on defending fragments of cruel age-long traditional parenting practices.
Events around us are really playing out in a worrisome manner. If flogging and other forms of corporal punishments of children is done without restraint in our schools and homes and yet street children who are evidences of broken parenting relationships litter our streets and various media reports show that insecurity, corruption, communal clashes, drug abuse, exam malpractice, kidnapping, indiscipline to regulatory and statutory procedures by adults and other forms of criminal acts are on the increase, then there is urgent need for a serious overhaul of the prevalent parenting practices. Stories are even told of communities and schools who operate illegal prisons for juvenile offenders where they are freely maltreated. It has become obvious that there is the need to sincerely remove the parenting practices that are retrogressive and embrace the progressive ones.
Progress is gradually being made. Informed parents and good schools are really showing interest in the improved approach to achieving real discipline in children, but the negative pressure from tradition-oriented adults to blindly follow the path of traditional parenting practices has been enormous. This pressure has been a thorn in the wheel of progress.
Therefore, the focus of the Passion in Parenting blog in year 2018 will be to reveal the nature and extent of the pressures against effective parenting approach and standard teacher-children relationship by traditionalists and how the institutions and peoples involved can cope with them.
Compliments of the season to all our readers!
The experience of being waylaid by evil men at the full glare of people who seem unperturbed is fast becoming a norm in some cities around us. Anyone who has passed through such harrowing experiences would understand well the extent of the frustration of the evil ones and their desperation to transfer same to their victims. The urchins on the streets and motor parks are not alone in this frustration. The depth and magnitude of the news of corrupt practices among many people occupying sensitive public positions and even civil servants also indicate rebellious frustration. Insecurity of lives and property is on the increase. If evil is fast advancing its frontiers and is getting bolder and more resistant, then urgent actions are needed to properly realign people’s thoughts and action and ensure that children are developed to acquire self-discipline as a way of life.
A child possesses self-discipline on an issue if he/she manifests restraint without being told or prodded or threatened by anyone. Self-discipline is enduring because it is not coerced or controlled externally, but proceeds from a spiritually, intellectually, socially, and physically sound mind. That should be the target of every parenting process. It is achievable if parents are sufficiently available to ensure that right values are communicated to children, possess effective parenting skills and provide the right support and learning resources. Most times when a parenting process fails, a dysfunctional person is produced who may eventually become a nuisance, not just to his/her parents, but the society at large.
Therefore, all hands should be on deck to ensure that disciplined children are raised. No informed person should be complacent. The efforts of NGOs who mobilise and provide support and guidance to children who are on the streets are commendable. I feel that the number of street children will reduce if the issues that lead to broken parenting relationships are clarified and dealt with. NGOs should also be encouraged to include parenting education to adults in our communities. Schools and religious organisations should organise parenting workshops and training. Parenting programmes should create opportunities for the right values to be propagated. Efforts in this direction will surely ameliorate the issues that threaten societal peace and security.
-Uchenna N. Nduka
It is usually a huge struggle for teachers as well as children in schools with disciplinary confusion. The management of such schools are usually at their wits end strategising for improvement. Improved staff-training resources and opportunities are provided. Workshops and seminars for students to improve their knowledge and competence on challenging areas are also helpful. The desire of every professional educationist should be to develop children who are morally and academically sound without recourse to abusive practices, even in environments without legal restrictions against corporal punishment of school children. Schools which are able to achieve this are those that have competent and principled administrators, standard and well-monitored school policies and teachers who are qualified and well supervised.
I have realised that teachers who were physically abused by their teachers and parents when they were young tend to cling tightly to their belief that children must necessarily pass through the same experiences. Most of such teachers would boldly describe the various effective child development methods such as Montessori as mere theories. Their unfavourable disposition to any improved method is obvious from their negative comments and rhetorical questions even during workshops and seminars. In fact, it can really be so bad that the only classroom control skills such teachers are willing to accept are corporal punishments and use of negative and abusive words. The undoing of a school at the turning point of embracing any improved method would be to underestimate the extent such teachers can go in frustrating the positive move for change, even if they are in the minority.
Stories have been told of how dissident teachers in such circumstances have done a lot of things to frustrate a good purpose.
- They have exaggerated the children’s behaviour to parents to ginger them to kick against the school’s improved method.
- They have completely dropped the old violent method but refused to apply the new method. Such teachers have even withdrawn their support to the children and lied against the children so that issues would really be exaggerated.
- They have blamed any challenge by any child on the change in approach.
My advice to schools in such situations is to be focused and insist on establishing a better approach in order to achieve improvement. No school should be overwhelmed by the activities of such dissidents. The school should take an inventory of such teachers, ensure that they apply the right standard of practice in line with the new prescribed school policy and monitor them closely. The option they have is either throw in the towel on their own or otherwise be subjected through the school disciplinary procedure for misconduct or negligence. It is important that the orientation programme of new teachers should include programmes that equip them to relate with children in conformity with school policies. A better approach is always preferred. No school should therefore be frustrated into giving in to cheap blackmail by dissident teachers and abandoning the good purpose of embracing an improved approach of achieving moral and academic excellence.
-Uchenna N. Nduka