“You are just a big useless good-for-nothing girl.” Vivian Joseph spoke these words in a loud voice to her teenage daughter Sonia, in the presence of other parents and students as she escorted her to the hall. Sonia had taken blurry pictures of her mother who’d become upset and had started ranting in her usual manner.
Sonia walked away from her mother sadly as she entered the school hall for the beginning of school activities. She watched other parents speak calmly to their children while some hugged their children. She wished that she could have such a relationship with her parents, especially her mother. The thought of it brought tears to her eyes and she quickly brushed them aside focused her gaze steadily on the stage and listened intently to her principal whose voice was the only voice of sanity in her life.
“I welcome you all to a new term and I am confident that you all will do well this term. Let me remind you that every child is an intelligent child, and if you find yourself struggling know that I’m here to make sure that your brilliance shines through. You can stop by my office for some hot chocolate and a piece of red velvet cake, let’s talk about your challenges.” Her principal, Joan Balogun was loved by all, and she had helped many of her students through really tough challenges.
Sonia thought long and hard about going to speak with Joan. Her mother’s idea of correcting her by publicly embarrassing her was beginning to affect her confidence. Even though she was the Deputy Head Girl at school and performed well in her studies, her mother did not have any qualms about shouting or screaming at her in public.
Because of the self-confidence sessions they had in their school, she had managed herself well, but things were not getting better, and she was beginning to wish she could run away from home just to get away from her mother.
She decided to talk to Joan before doing anything stupid. She may be only 15 years old but she knows when to seek help. Joan watched Sonia walk timidly into her office. She had noticed her lose her sparkle over time and knew she was struggling with something. Even though she’d asked her what the matter was several times in the past, Sonia had said everything was okay. She welcomed Sonia into her office and just listened to her pour out her heart over her mother’s behaviour towards her.
As soon as Sonia left her office, Joan placed a call to Vivian and asked her to come see her when it was convenient for her. Sonia’s mother quickly rushed to the school because this was the first time the very revered principal had called her in the 5 years since her daughter had started attending her school.
Joan was tough on parents especially when they were responsible for their children’s poor academic and psychological welfare. “Your daughter has been one of my best students, an all-rounder too, which is why we thought she’d make a great prefect and she has delivered excellently so far. I received a report that you were shouting at her and calling her names this morning. Could you please share why exactly you think she is a good-for-nothing useless child despite all the evidence to the contrary?”
Vivian replied, “I didn’t mean any harm to her. That’s the normal way I’ve talked to her for years and it’s just my way of correcting her.”
“Madam, what if what you consider normal is actually dysfunctional? I understand that you desire to correct her but it is better that you do that calmly in private without name-calling and putting her down. The goal is to correct the child while ensuring their self-confidence is intact because the higher their confidence, the better their performance.” Vivian promised to work on it.
A few weeks later, Sonia walked into Joan Balogun’s office with a big smile to thank her. Her mother (who didn’t know Sonia had reported her) was now gentler and Sonia was grateful for the peace.