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Learning begins at home

THE most important learning for the child comes from his family. Parents are his first teachers. The child learns about his world and how to be a good person from the very day he is born. His sense of self comes from how his parents treat him and respond to him. Child experts often advise parents to tune in to their children from an early age. Children’s self-esteem is nurtured early in life as they interact with their parents in a positive environment.

When a child gets into trouble, parents often blame themselves for being too lenient or too strict with him. Some parents even blame the child for being naughty or disobedient. The truth of the matter is, children are the products of either good parenting or bad parenting and not because their parents are good or bad. When we make mistakes with our children, often times, we are not aware of ways to manage our children correctly.

We can do a better job with our children when we understand the different stages of development. As children mature, parents need to manage their children’s behaviour differently. You cannot talk to your teenager as you did when he was six years old. Listen to what your child says and find ways to support his interests.

Communication plays a vital role in our daily interactions with family members. We need to understand what they hear and see, and be able to send messages in ways that they can understand and accept. Children need adults to guide them in choosing the right words to express themselves. Teaching by example is the most effective tool for parents. Many have found that their words fall on deaf ears when they do not practise what they preach to their young ones.

A mother of two school-going boys remarked that today’s teenagers are easily influenced by their peers. She feared for her children’s welfare. She wondered how she can protect her sons from negative influences. Children tend to draw closer to their peers when their parents refuse to acknowledge them or listen to them. Their peers, on the other hand, make them feel accepted and loved. They never question them or belittle their ideas.

Self-esteem is how the person feels and thinks about himself. Feeling loved, valued, wanted and respected will make children feel good about who they are. Parents can create such an environment for them to grow up in. Once your children are confident, they can try new things and explore their world.

Parents must allow their children to make mistakes so that they can learn to cope and find out what they can do to succeed. Like a toddler learning to walk, he will fail many times before he achieves his goal. But once he manages to do what he sets out to do, he will experience an overwhelming sense of pride.

Many children feel unloved because they are scolded or punished frequently. The foundation of their relationship with their parents is built on fear and violence. While parents consider their acts of punishments as a form of discipline, their children do not share this understanding. They cannot accept the fact that their parents inflict pain on them to teach them a lesson.

As children grow, parents must be prepared to allow them to take charge of their behaviour. When parents respect their children for their sense of independence, they will live up to parental expectations.

My five-year-old nephew once declared: “I have no freedom. My parents make me do everything.” He feels helpless when he is not allowed to do simple tasks for himself or decide what he wants to do or say.

In today’s competitive world, our children need to know that being different is acceptable. We do not want our children to be carbon-copies. They can have their own likes and dislikes. They should not feel the need to submit to societal pressure to look the same and talk the same way. Parents can show their children how to value different things that they learn from others.

We live in a multicultural society. Parents’ attitude can make a lot of difference in how their children regard other people and accept their ways. Bring the various cultures into your children’s lives through stories, songs and food.

Hopefully, one day our children will grow into mature adults who do not discriminate against others.


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