Be careful with your children. Negative words you say to them can affect them psychologically.
We have this African culture of using insults to correct a child. When the child comes home with a poor result, some parents will say:
“Did the person that takes the first position have two heads? Are you stupid? Don’t you have sense? Why am I wasting my money on you if there’s no brain inside your head? Do you know that when I was in school, I was the overall best student? Do you want people to say that my child is a dullard?”
We see this kind of behaviour in Nollywood movies and we make memes out of it and laugh. When anybody talks about this terrible behaviour, some people will say, “That’s how our parents brought us up too. We don’t mean it like that, we just want to correct our children.”
If we are being honest, we’ll admit that those negative words they said to us hurt us more than the beatings we got. Now, I wonder when we’ll stop passing down this culture of insults and veiled threats.
What about using words of encouragement? Instead of insulting the child, do you know you can help in the areas that he/she finds challenging, advise them and motivate them to do better? Some parents don’t use negative words on their children. But this does not prevent them from disciplining the child when they do something wrong.
Children are vulnerable
The mind of a child at birth is ‘tabula rasa’ which means ‘a blank slate’ according to John Locke.
The child has no experience, no knowledge, and no ideas. A child’s development is influenced by external factors – education and environment, as well as those things that are unseen like emotions.
Children are vulnerable because they learn by what they see, hear and feel without any filter. They can absorb both the good and bad if they have no proper guidance. A child is like clay mixed with water; easily moulded to anyway shape.
Every child is unique
Even twins are not the same. It’s high time parents stop comparing their children with their siblings, friends, classmates, the neighbour’s child, or the child actor on Nickelodeon. Accord respect to every child and let them feel free to express their uniqueness.
Remember that a child is influenced by the things around them. They are still forming their opinions of the world and their emotional state is fragile.
Be mindful of the words you use around them, the friends they keep, the programs they watch on tv and the internet, and the activities they engage in. Children also pick a lot from their parents, so be a good role models that they can emulate.
When your child does something wrong, you don’t have to report the child to the neighbours, the pastor, the imam, the school authorities, and anybody that’ll listen. If your child is stubborn, unruly, disrespectful or aggressive, you need to address the problem at the root. Ask yourself questions like, why is the child acting like that? Did something trigger the behaviour? What can you do to help the child?
Speak with positive words and not negative words
Surround children with positivity. Discipline the child with love and not out of anger. Let them know you are doing it for their good. You can teach them to do better and remove those things that affect them negatively. Some laws protect children for a reason. Young minds are unformed and their mental capacity is not like that of an adult.
There’s power in the tongue, so speak words that will bless your children. Even after several years, they may not forget how your words made them feel.
Parents and adults shouldn’t abuse children in the name of discipline. Those words can cause psychological damage and low self-esteem.
Teach them to learn from their mistakes, encourage them, and build their confidence at every given chance.