Thursday March 1 2018

Adapt new ways of parenting

Breaking Barriers: The blind girl who is an athlete


It is common for people to use the phrase “In our days…….” This is normally used when one is making a comparison between the present and the past. And in most cases, in insinuating that the past was much better than the present. But while this is somewhat inevitable, it is more important to realise that our present cannot be our old days.
It is a new day! Our parents told us a lot about how things were when they were growing up. Many times, they tried to relate the same things with our time. Now, we are telling our children about our days and trying to use the same measures with them. It is true that we can learn a lot from the past; it is also true that you cannot necessarily use old strategies to confront emerging challenges.
We must acknowledge that every single day things change and we have the responsibility of adapting to the changes. History shows us that the world has over the years gone through various stages of transformation - right from the stone age, the reformation/renaissance, the industrial revolution to the current information age also known as the dot com or digital age.
This brings me to the issue of parenting and education today, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. Despite the glaring reality that things are significantly different from the time many of us were growing up, many parents and teachers are still stuck in the old methods of parenting and teaching. We seem to conveniently forget that we grew up at a time when there were no mobile phones; Ipads or tablets. There was no social media, not many radio and TV stations, etc. Children today have more access to information than any other time in history and this information has a huge influence on their growth and behaviour.
The approach of beating, shouting, intimidating and gagging children from speaking out their mind in this era is no longer tenable.
Neuroscience and existing research all show that these methods in no way lead to better outcomes for children. Yet you still find teachers and parents still beating children for failing to cope with learning in class or teachers who pride in being the most feared in school.
How does this help a child learn better? Instead of realising that children differ in their learning abilities and that those that are considered ‘slow’ should be better supported to cope, we beat them, discredit them and embarrass them sometimes even before their peers. We destroy their self-esteem and self-belief, their creative and innovative abilities and leave them scars that follow them into their adulthood.
I am a firm believer in enforcing discipline in children, but only through positive approaches that reinforce learning. It should not be through creation of physical and emotional pain that instills fear rather than actual discipline in them.
It is high time our society, particularly parents and teachers, woke up to the reality that it is a new day and not their days.
Timothy Opobo.