• Monday, May 20, 2024
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BusinessDay

How secured is your child with you?

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There are different kinds of attachment relationships that can be put into different categories. These categories can describe children’s relationships with both parents. Research has found that there are at least four attachment categories. The categories describe the ways that children act and the ways that adults act with the children. The strongest kind of attachment is called ‘secure.’ The way a parent or provider responds a child may lead to one of the four types of attachment categories. The way a child is attached to her parents also affects how she will behave around others when her parent is not around.

Bola Adeoye, an expert on family issues says secure too hard or too soft relationship between a parent and child may not be the best approach to. According to her, is fairly easy to spot the out-of-control child-beaters but, just as harmful to the child is the domineering parent who cannot seem to stand it even when their child is quietly enjoying themselves.  “I remember my brother bullying and intimidating his 10-year-old son in our living room even though the boy was quietly entertaining himself and had been very polite during their long visit,” she explains.  “It does not matter whether it is violence, religion, or some other strict discipline tactic, if children are afraid to be children…afraid of a parent, it is a very unhealthy relationship.  Once they figure out their parent cannot be pleased, it can only end in no relationship.”

According to her, many parents do not realise the other side of the coin, being too soft, is just as unhealthy and damaging to the child.  Children need to have solid, dependable boundaries for their own security and to learn what life is like outside the home.  “If children always get their way, can always exhaust their parents into giving in and making exceptions, the child has much more difficulty coping with the real world.  Another brother of mine tried this approach…reasoning with his 2-year-old why she should not scream in a restaurant.  To be diplomatic, let me just say that her behaviour has not changed much even though she is now 23.  At age two, sometimes a little slap on the behind is all they need to understand and obey…they can learn why over time,” she adds. 

John Ogunbiyi, a psychologist observes that a recent trend in parenting is the separate family which he says is not healthy for building a good parent/child relationship.  “Kids live in one part of the home and parents another; they do not even eat together.  The only time the parents are seen is if it gets too loud or too quiet on the kid’s side.  “I knew one selfish Dad who even sent his kids to the neighbour’s house at dinner time in hopes he would not have to cook for them.  Younger children need to be cuddled and loved and played with, given serious attention.  Sometimes, even affectionate parents shy away from their kids when they start puberty.  Kids need reassurance and affirmation when they are going through the emotional pre-teen or early teen years.  Boys need to know you see them as getting strong…girls, getting pretty.”

Ogunbiyi adds that touch, time and verbal affirmation all play a role in a healthy relationship.  Being distant, absent or unaffectionate will create unhealthy parent-child relationship and unstable children. The other side of this coin are the parents who are too close to their children.  Teenage boys and girls want to know they are attractive to the opposite sex.  The safe place they try this first is at home, with their parents.

“Look, parents, no more full-body hugs or juicy kisses after they are 10 or so.  Do not let them wrap their legs around you or contact you anywhere near sexual areas.  This is common sense but some of you need to hear it.  If you let these things happen, it creates a very unhealthy relationship between you and your child.  You can use shoulder hugs or “A-frame” hugs to make physical contact.  By age 10, they do not need help bathing unless they ask, and then, hopefully, someone of the same gender can assist.”

Adeola Ajakaiye, a parent says there are ways to be too close that do not include sex.  “Some parents feel they have to be “best friends” with their children and this works well until about age seven. After that, hopefully even before, it’s good to help your child choose appropriate friends and back off a little bit on trying to be everything for them.  Don’t protect them from everything just crippling and fatal things.  Kids need to fail and be hurt to learn about life.  Overprotection creates stunted growth.  Being too chummy as they enter puberty creates disrespect and resentment.”

A research explains that the most difficult area for a parent to gauge is the fact that they are not raising perfect children. “Parents should know that their child is not perfect. Children lie, abuse each other, steal, and they also make mistakes.  I know one family that was dominated by their 11-year-old son, who, according to his father, could do no wrong.  He would even call his father at work to tattle on his step-Mom, whenever she made a decision he did not like.  The father sided with the son.  This is an extreme example of a parent who is too biased.  Of course, it is possible to be too biased against your child, too, with equally damaging results.  Just because a kid does some bad things does not make the kid bad.  Being too biased for or against your child can be a very unhealthy parent-child relationship,” he explains.

The other side, experts says, is the parent who is so objective and interested in the interests of every party involved, hence afraid to come down one side or the other, that nothing gets resolved.  “The kids are left to grow up in a mushy world where nothing is absolute except the bully who is smart enough to see there is no punishment for bad behaviour.  The kids lose respect for their parents because they know their parents are afraid to offend anyone.  They also lose respect for themselves because they never get a clear idea of decisiveness or a clear right and wrong…only a World full of grey areas,” explains Seun Adeosun, a clinical psychologist.

In addition, he observes that unhealthy parent-child relationships can result equally from parents being too hard or too soft, too far or too close, too biased or too objective.  “Just as with work, finances and diet, balance is the key to a healthy parent-child relationship.  After all, if you don’t set the example of balance, where are your kids going to learn it?” he adds.

Fatima Odunfa, a parent says Islam recognises family as a basic social unit. Along with the husband-wife relationship the Parent-child relationship is the most important one. “To maintain any social relationship both parties must have some clear-cut Rights as well as obligations. The relationships are reciprocal. Duties of one side are the Rights of the other side. So in Parent-child relationship the Rights of parents are the obligations of the children and vice versa, the Rights of children are obligations of parents. Islam clearly defines the Rights of Parents, which mean duties of children, and obligations of parents, which means Rights of children,” she explains.

Looking back at the 70s, parents brought up their children in the fear of God and according to societal expectations also, schools gave good advice, which were useful in controlling their students. Teachers were able to maintain order and good discipline by asserting their authority. Students generally were reasonably well behaved and rarely required much disciplinary attention from their teachers.

However, things have changed negatively at home, in most schools and the society at large today.

Speaking with some parents, here are my findings concerning the issue of disciplining children;

Patricia Okorike, is a mother with four children and a school teacher, she says, today, things are a bit different because some teachers have discipline problems in the sense that, some are not efficient in using systematic instruction to develop a discipline plan for their students. Therefore, teachings are ineffective in some schools because of classroom disruption, students’ inattentiveness, modern day electronic distractions, students’ unrest and defiant behaviours, violence and vandalisation among students, the fear of physical attack on teachers by students, students talking without permission, loitering, truancy, breaking of school rules and regulations with impunity, drug abuse, prostitution, sadistic behaviour and lately cultism.

Beatrice Aluko who is a senior teacher in a junior secondary school says some parents do not even show good moral values and discipline talk less of what they inculcate in their children. Children nowadays go to school with all sorts of things like truancy, violence, drugs, prostitution, etc, as part of their background experience. This is the sad setting in which teaching and learning is carried out in most schools today; and invariably the setting in which we raise our leaders of tomorrow.

Aluko further says that all this is not conducive for effective teaching and learning. Little wonder the cry today is that of fallen standard of education.

Parents should also know that they are not the only people who significantly influence their children’s behaviour. Siblings, friends, peers, neighbours, the media and others are also participants in child rearing. The younger the child, the more the influence of parents and the significant others are likely to be. Thus, we should be wary of those people who our children associate with. Parents should also note that children’s aggressive and oppositional behaviours are quite stable, if left unchecked.

Okoroike says growing up means learning who you are, apart from your family, this creates conflict–especially when the child wants something other than his or her parents. Conflict is a fact of life for every family. Because of this inevitable conflict, every parent has had to discipline their child.

The most important thing parents can do is to instill good values into a child. One of the easiest ways to do this is to teach children that there are consequences to her actions.

Finally, do not forget that kids learn by watching, particularly their parents. Make sure your behaviour is a role-model material.

ANNE AGBAJE