You are here
Bringing out the best in your child
In my involvement with courses on parenting which I have attended locally and also helped to arrange, I have often heard it said that no child comes with a manual on its back indicating how he or she ought to be brought up. One often hears references by parents that they apply whatever principles strike them as necessary or required—sanctions, coercion or incentives. It appears to me that a more intelligent approach, which is also more practical, should instead be used. This approach is quite simple. It requires personal example. If one is trying to inculcate in one’s children the desire and the will to live the virtues of honesty, courage, diligence and sincerity, just to mention a few, as a parent one must live precisely those identical virtues. In addition, one must appreciate that there are rules of the parenting game that one will not acquire by experience only but that have to be learned and taught. It is precisely because of this that I would recommend American James Stenson as an excellent source and repository of wisdom and instruction on parenting and on fatherhood in particular. (He will be giving two lectures in Trinidad tomorrow and Saturday.)
He has authored several books on these issues but I have found his speaking engagements to be full of insight that reflect a very well thought out and researched grasp of the dilemmas that many a parent faces in trying to bring up one’s child to be the individual so that one would be proud to say “that’s my son/daughter.”
For instance, many children from the very young age of two or three often clamour for that snack or that sweet at inopportune times during the day and usually between meals and immediately fling into a temper tantrum if their desires are not gratified forthwith. When a parent acquiesces to a child in this manner the battle is beginning to be lost in the war to bring out the best in the child. One is already letting them become the creatures of a comfort-loving society that craves leisure and entertainment while eschewing hard work, character development and the pursuit of ideals as the best challenges one should meet and surpass in life.
Furthermore, in inculcating virtues in the young, one should have a judicious mix of incentive and discipline. There must always be sanctions for behaviour that fails to meet the standard.
This need not be punishment of a physical type, though that should not be excluded beforehand, but can be the denial of something the child normally looks forward to as a reward. No washing of the car, for instance, means that there can be no watching of television that evening. On this matter of watching television, it is of great significance that the point be made that many of our children are being neglected by their parents and the role of babysitter at home is being usurped by the television with programmes of dubious and often destructive values. Apart from the suspended animation of the intellect that television induces in many a child, the lifestyles on display promote not just violence and behaviour inconsistent with healthy family life, but there is frequent ridicule of authority figures, such as parents and teachers. This takes place even in the cartoons which the impressionable child will take as the guide for his or her behaviour and emulation. A whole host of benefits can, on the other hand, redound to society when each parent tries his or her level best to bring out the best in their child.
A balanced child and adolescent will see the need to have a healthy combination of work, play and social interaction while viewing his or her contribution to society as a natural consequence of self-improvement.
No person can afford to be, especially in our current globalised environment, an island and one is always in need of others to grow in character and one’s grasp of the qualities that are so essential in building a harmonious and productive society. It goes without saying that the scourge of crime will go a long way towards being eradicated if the generation of children that parents are bringing up appreciate the rationale for self-respect, as well as respect for others. Life in this society would indeed be radically different from prevailing circumstances and the light at the end of the tunnel would be that much closer.
User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment writer and are not representative of Guardian Media Limited or its staff. Guardian Media Limited accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments.
Please help us keep out site clean from inappropriate comments by using the flag option.
Guardian Media Limited reserves the right to remove, to edit or to censor any comments. Any content which is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will be removed.