Save the Children - by Jolade

baby, hands, fingers

Foolishness is indeed in the heart of a child.

We have been inundated with a barrage of unpleasantness in recent times.

The social media is awash with gory stories of domestic violence and more recently sordid details of two young children engaging in acts way beyond their age and comprehension. While I have restrained myself from commenting on social media forums, I have pondered seriously the issue at hand. It calls to mind my own childhood and the foolishness that abounds therein.

So much thoughtlessness!

Some, I remember and cringe at how reckless I was, how a child could be.

I won’t be talking about the specifics of the issues surrounding this recent case blown up on the social media scene because quite frankly it read like a total disaster. All the parties were wrong, and everyone failed in their duties.

This write up is targeted at parents, so I will keep the other institutions that contributes to a child’s life out of this.

If we are going to salvage the lives of our children the current set of parents needs to sit up, buckle down, and do our parts in mending this society we have collectively created which threatens the legacy we are all so desperately toiling to leave behind.

I grew up in the 90’s, a well-guarded and protected child. My mum barely let us out of her sight, heck, we could not even go visiting anyone without supervision. We were friendly enough with our neighbors and as a community we were our brothers keepers.

For the longest time we did not have a television set in our house. I cannot remember the reasoning behind it, but it was never a bother. We were constantly mentally engaged with school and extra lessons my mother always made available to keep us occupied.

Guess what? Even at that, I was the princess of mischief!

Crimes ranging from pilfering from my mother’s purse, casual destruction of things in the house, planning wickedness unprovoked and to the elephant in the room, sexual exploration! No there was no social media to teach me all these things, but I still got down to business! Why? Curiosity of the mind. I wasn’t even 10 years old when all these began!

I was the second of three children, I cannot speak for my siblings, but I must confess I gave my mother many sleepless nights while growing up.

I will say here that children from a certain age are not guilt free. Impressionable, dare devils, or just curious. Can they comprehend the gravity of what they are getting up to? Certainly not. Children are like cars without brakes, they will take to destruction unprovoked. They don’t need extra help ruining their own life, they will naturally gravitate toward that path.

However, children know when they are doing the wrong things, it why they hide or lie when caught. The lures of wrongdoing is enticing.

Here is where it gets tricky- the response an older adult, be it parent, guardian, gives in every dire situation goes a long way in shaping the child in the formative years.

Parenting is serious business. It means being present and I don’t mean that as being present 24/7. Many of us cannot even achieve that pipe dream. Its not to say being physically present 24/7 guarantees the successful upbringing of a child.

What I mean is as a parent you need to be a guiding light– honestly your child needs to know who is in charge. When you are not there, your child should be able to say my mummy or daddy will not be happy if I do this or act this way. They get clues on how to behave from mirroring. What you do is as much as important as what you say. Watch their shows with them when time permits. create a judgement free zone that tells your child they have permission to say what they are thinking and feeling. You are their first listening ear, the first point of call. The place where all the nonsense in the outside world is given meaning and explanation.

Children will always push the boundaries– it is innate. They want to question the whys and see the reason behind the no’s. while I was growing up questioning one’s parent was a taboo so I kept quiet while the questions remained unanswered so getting innovative was the next thing I could dream of. Parents have the duty to explain their answers to nip unnecessary curiosity in the board. Learn how to ask probing questions to understand the way the mind of your child works. It is maze! They need help finding their way in order not to get lost. Introduce them to the right materials, books, people, godly counsel. Make yourself available to guide their learning. Good or bad they will learn.

It takes a village– Surround your home with the right people and energy. we didn’t have television but our neighbor had! The television wasn’t the problem neither were my neighbors who happen to be a young couple like my parents with no children of their own. My mother would let was go to their flat every now and then to keep her company and probably run some errands. It was another young adult who started living with them who introduced porn. In fairness he didn’t ask us to watch with him but as a child when you are constantly being told to leave the room when you were supposed to be watching a movie you get curious! You start to peep to see what that uncle is up to.

The seed had been planted.

Mind corruption is rife. Just one bad apple can ruin the whole cluster.

Be perceptive– Children will drop hints when they have been up to no good, be it verbal or behavioral. Its like a beacon calling for attention. Is he or she talking too much? Unusually quiet? Didn’t stay up to wait for you? Not eating their food? Weepy? Aggressive? Afraid? The clues are many but you know your child. Or at least I hope you know your child enough to know when the signs are off. This is not a time to be judgmental, dismiss their feelings or lengthy rants if they open up. Listen attentively and provide appropriate feedbacks. Feedback is important and follow up too. Go back to the conversation if you have a nagging feeling that there is more to be revealed.

Actions should have consequences– growing up there was no doubt in my mind when I have been up to my disastrous ways. Sanctions should be commensurate, appropriate and effective and I must say dynamic. Don’t get to the point where your child would say ‘it will not pass beating’. Retribution, owning up to crime committed, punishments after which you explain the crime, why and how it would never happen again. These days they say don’t beat children, well each to his own. Let your children experience the natural consequences of their behavior as well. How would they know how to stand on their own when you cover and justify all their mistakes? How do you want learning to take place when you didn’t let them see the errors of their ways?

Be firm in your approach – again your child should always know who is in charge. Not from a place of fear but respect. Build trust, keep your promises to your children. Follow through, your child will learn to trust you and your judgement when you have proven your dependability and instinctively know that they can come to you and you won’t let them down. Your child also learns not to try change your mind when you have explained a consequence by negotiating. If you give in to your child’s whining you are teaching them manipulation unknowingly. Let your No be No and Yes be yes. Some maybe can be conditional based on good behavior, something to look forward to. Only say what you mean and mean what you say.

Never be afraid to clampdown on bad behavior – they are the child and you the adult for a reason. Don’t beg the situation, review the situation and take necessary steps you deem appropriate. You cannot pamper a child to success without the necessary discipline. Don’t fall for the guilt tripping and let your child run amok. Children cannot be left to make their own decisions and life choices. It is a lie that is being peddled in the world right now. They do not have the capacity to make informed decisions, even adults with right think capabilities struggle, how much more a child. Don’t be swayed by the band wagon. Bad company corrupts good manners, be responsible for your child.

Teach, model, show– I am reiterating it, your child’s life education starts with you as the parent. If the truth you are living is not a truth you want your child to learn, you know what to do. Reprove with love, in correcting let the child know you have their best interest at heart and your home is a safe zone. They are also taking their cues on how you talk about other people’s children, especially children that get into trouble.

Teach them to respect limits and boundaries of other people and guide then to create some of their own by setting clear family rules, limits and boundaries.

Give the age appropriate life, sexual and social education. The unfortunate reality is that kids starts to experiment with sex, drugs and alcohol as early as 9 years old, some even earlier. These formative years are key for us to build a string foundation and give developmentally appropriate information. Give them books, encourage their questions, answer appropriately and confirm understanding. Prepare and fortify your child for the times when they will be exposed to this stuff through peer groups. Provide them with information that is accurate but isn’t overwhelming.

We all have a part to play in raising a child right. We must provide the appropriate tools and enabling environment that fosters the growth of a well-rounded child, from the home front, the schools and society at large.

I will always be grateful for parents who did all they could to ensure I turned out right. I am not the self-acclaimed one-woman battalion for nothing. Lol.

Let’s do our part.

Cheers.

Jolade.

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