THE Greek philosopher Aristotle once said “Give me a child until he is seven and I will show you the man.” This quote means that a child’s character is formed between birth and the age of seven. If you have a young daughter or son, you should ask yourself, ‘What kind of person would I like my child to become?’ and then work towards this notion.
Children do not develop good morals, manners and values by chance; they are instilled in them along the way by their parents and other family members who take the time to teach positive virtues.
The relationship you have with your child is one of the most important influences in his/her learning and development. Although it might not be apparent, your child depends on you to teach him skills and behaviours that will help him navigate life and his way in the world, positively.
Parents do not set out to raise a thief nor a criminal, and which parent would like to know that their cute son grows up to be a wife-beater, or their daughter the victim of domestic violence? Children learn good and bad traits from the people around them and the environment in which they are raised.
Whether they come from a wealthy, middle-class or poor background, children can still learn and grow in the right way as long as they have a healthy, loving and secure environment. Where they do not have to be afraid to ask questions or express themselves around parent/carers who love and respect them.
If adults are fair, level-headed, and hard-working, they are good role models for children. If they are quarrelsome, problematic misfits who always have negative things to say and negative experiences to share, this will be the child’s outlook on the world and life in general.
Children have little say over the environments they are born into; they are reliant on the grown-ups around them to provide the best homes in which they can strive and develop holistically. Once parents understand the needs of children, they cannot sit back on their laurels in the hope that raising children will just fall into place. Parenting is a work in progress and the first seven years are the most contributing factors to the adult the child will become.
If you want to give your offspring the best start in life and be proud of the person they become, you must work towards the intended goal and not be distracted or side-tracked from the bigger picture; their future is your responsibility.
There are many attributes that parents, grown-ups, and carers impart to children during their formative years (and beyond); some of which they are aware and others to which they are oblivious. Children, however, are as absorbent as sponges during this time, they are learning from adults and older siblings every day. They can learn to master the art of deception and tell a lie without a pang of guilt. They can also learn how to manipulate people and situations to their advantage.
Although these are not qualities to be encouraged, they are characteristics of mankind. Therefore, children need to be monitored and reprimanded appropriately so that negative behaviours do not get out of hand. Parents need to cultivate and encourage the positive qualities in children and create incentives for children to strive towards goals.
Here are two more things that parents can do to support their child in their formative years and beyond. If your relationship with your wife, husband or boyfriend falls apart, do not involve your child or children in the aftermath. Regardless of how much of a broken heart, you may be nursing or the resentment you might feel towards the other person, LEAVE CHILDREN out of the mess to the best of your ability.
Keep up good relations with your child’s other parent, let the child see the two of you talking amicably and sensibly. So he/she will feel the love that both parents can give, even if apart. You need to love your child more than you dislike your ex. to do this. DO NOT put the child in a position where he/she needs to choose between parents and never say derogatory things about the other parent to the child or for the child to hear. DO NOT cuss, swear, shout or fight with your ex in front of the child. That type of negative behaviour can hurt a child, and even if you cover it with ice cream and gifts, the damage would still exist.
Lastly, you must empower your child. Empowering children builds their confidence and helps them to grow into resilient, well- adjusted, respectful teenagers and adults. You can do this by listening to your child and allowing him to express his thoughts and opinions. Where and when necessary, give your child a choice, do not choose or judge for him/her. Teach your child about body safety and how to get out of tricky situations. Allow your child to take sensible, reasonable, calculated risks. Be supportive and encourage your child to follow his/her interests and always use your words towards your child, thoughtfully and wisely.
If you are concerned about the welfare of a child, call the CPA hotline on 227 0979 or write to us at email@example.com
A MESSAGE FROM THE CHILDCARE AND PROTECTION AGENCY,
MINISTRY OF SOCIAL PROTECTION