Two weeks ago, I wrote about why some children turn out differently. I continued the discussion last week by discussing some of the external influences that determine the outcomes of parenting irrespective of the desires of the parents. I concluded by focusing specifically on the influence of the TV, internet and other media on the psychosocial development of the children.
This week, I will like to start off by saying something about the current gist about some songs being banned (or not) by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC). I must say that the possibility of the NBC being capable of controlling the content of what is broadcasted to all Nigerians is a welcome idea. However, I personally don’t think that this is realistic. Our parents should not leave the NBC to decide how and what our children have access to on the media. It is ONLY parents who have that capability. If the NBC have the capacity to control local content, can they control content on the internet?
Our understanding of what is responsible for the difference(s) observed in our children or some other children that we come in contact with tend to be limited by our individual experiences. This, most of the time, makes it difficult for professionals to effectively communicate or convince the parents of children who turn out differently about the cause or the eventual course of the child’s specific challenges. From my clinical experience, I try to guide the parents of such children or their key caregiver to see the uniqueness of the specific child and come to the realization that each child has his/her own strengths and weaknesses and must never be “JUDGED” with reference to the capability of other children. The earlier the parents reach the level of “ACCEPTANCE” of the child’s peculiar challenges and come to terms with the fact that the child might never fit the specific image of what they consider to be the ideal child, the better for the parents. Many parents end up frustrating themselves by trying to fit their children into a particular mental image they have about the ideal child. They build up their anxiety level and also end up eroding the self-esteem of their children when they keep comparing them to other children.
It is important that parents realize that if they can focus on helping their children to develop a high level of self-esteem and confidence, they would have succeeded in laying the foundation for the child becoming successful later in life. Parents must also help their children to learn how to persevere when they do not do well enough. Basically, parents who have children performing below their expectations academically or in accomplishing specific tasks need to choose to build their child’s self-esteem and eventually self-efficacy by helping them to try and try again until they are able to succeed. The first ten years of life should be focused on helping the child to learn appropriate norms and values in addition to the development of self confidence and self-esteem. This is indeed realistic only for children who have the cognitive capability to learn within that period.
For parents who have children with intellectual functioning that seems not to be as good as that of others within the same age group, it is imperative that such parents don’t add emotional stress to the child’s intellectual deficits by exerting undue pressure on the child. I recently met a young woman who overheard me counseling some other people on the need to avoid the temptation of pressurizing rather than encouraging and motivating their children to do well. She then shared her own experience of how she kept on scolding her son for not bringing home medals until she observed that it was affecting the boy’s emotion. She then decided to cut him some slack by switching over from admonishing to encouraging the boy. She noticed that later on, he began to do exceptionally well.
Stop taking out your frustration on your child! Some parents want their children to fulfill all the dreams they had about themselves. The chances are that your child would have your abilities passed down genetically. If you were not so good in mathematics, there is a high likelihood that your child will not be exceptional as a mathematician. The only way possible for your child to perform exceptionally well is for you to provide all the support and condition that will ensure that your child has better resources available (modify the environment), then sit back and hope for the best. Findings from some survey in the western world have shown that insecure children (even after becoming successful) have a tendency to become adults with problems of regulating their emotions. This further emphasizes the need to nurture our children aright towards guiding them into becoming balanced adults.
Indeed, some parents have children who have peculiar differences. When these differences are not understood, they have the potential of getting the parents worked up, anxious and frustrated. When these parents experience negative emotions, they can transmit their experiences onto the child further worsening the situation. The vicious cycle that results from these could end up reducing the potentials of the individual as he/she grows through adolescence into adulthood. There is a need for concerned parents to explore the right avenues for getting reliable information about their child’s peculiar differences. Mental health and allied professionals have a duty to be the torchbearers in this regard. When these professionals are available, there is a need for parents to be willing to accept their recommendations and work with them as soon as possible and for as long as necessary with a positive mentality and realistic expectations.
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Till next week, Stay safe and sane; help someone do the same!
Next week, I will begin the series titled “Talking Fists”
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