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
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