Hey, how are you today? This post is for parents (and if you have children living with you). As a parent, I find that I’m constantly making decisions about what to discipline and what to overlook. This is very important if you want to keep your sanity. What I’ve discovered though, is that it is very easy to sweat the small stuff in parenting; to pay attention and harp on those things which in the long run, do not have any negative consequences on the child and then go ahead and ignore those things which we should take very seriously.
I believe that as parents, most of us mean well. We don’t want our children to go the wrong way; we don’t want them picking up bad habits, after all, charity begins at home. However, many of us fall into the trap of scolding our children because of what others will think of us. So your two year old throws a tantrum outside and you get very nasty with the child because you are worried about what others will say. Don’t worry, most of us are guilty.
If we know what to focus on, that will help us realize what the small stuff is and what to let go. Each family will have things that they absolutely cannot tolerate, but the list below covers most families:
Let’s face it, we are Africans and we are big on respect. Funny enough, Africans are not the only ones who value respect. If you notice signs of disrespect, treat it immediately.
See, the thing about a child telling lies is that it can grow into other things. My grandmother used to tell me that “a liar is a thief and a thief is a prostitute.” I did not see the correlation then, (and most days, I still don’t see it) but what I’m driving at is that lies often escalate into other intolerable behavior and it can destroy trust. So that’s another one you should handle as soon as you notice it.
This can become a habit and if a child grows with it, it can have legal consequences. You should teach your child from a very early age that they should not take what does not belong to them without permission. You can start by granting privileges. Your six year old can maybe go to the fridge and take water by herself, but your three year old should not do so without permission.
We want our kids to grow up knowing that there is an alternative to violence. So fighting and hitting others are usually frowned upon. However there are two points of view in this case. There are those who believe that a child should not fight no matter what, while others believe that if someone hits them then they should fight and stand up for themselves. Whichever you choose is up to you. Fighting without provocation however is a big one that should not be overlooked.
Bear in mind that children model behavior. So if you are in the habit of calling your children names or abusing your domestic staff, your child will repeat that behavior. There is no point disciplining your child for something they learnt from you. Determine that name calling and rude behavior will not tolerated from anyone, including you and your spouse.
When you have settled in your mind what the huge offenses are, determine what the consequences of those offences would be and make sure you enforce them every single time. The punishment for stealing should be enforced each time there’s an incidence of stealing and let the child know the punishment for each offence. That way they are beginning to learn about actions and consequences.
Parenting is a full time job and the reward is bringing up young men and women who are responsible citizens. No one is born being a good parent, we are all learning on the job. You will make mistakes, but forgive yourself and learn from your mistakes.
by Sharon Dinma-Fiberesima
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