SOME parents have a way of embarrassing or belittling their children. They use it sometimes as a form of discipline or out of frustration on occasions to hurt their feelings. Many adults believe they have the right to say what they like to children because they ‘made’ them. They do not understand the impact verbal abuse can have on a child. Calling children names, such as ‘cross’, good for nothing, useless, stupid, big fool, and saying derogatory things about them, is wrong.
When parents get a reaction; e.g. the child may ‘long out their mouth’ or a more sensitive child might cry, they would have fulfilled their goal and might retort, ‘What you crying for? I never beat you, I gan give you something to cry for’, or ‘you best fix your face before I box it into shape.’
The child reacts because he feels bad; he may experience emotions, such as worthlessness, inadequacy, bitterness or revenge. These emotions are stored in the body’s mind and cells; they will surface again the next time he is belittled, regardless by whom.
It takes a certain amount of self-awareness (consciousness) for a parent to realise they are at fault; they should not tarnish children in this way. The damage is unseen to the naked eye but mentally, unbeknown sometimes, even to the child; the negative words affect them.
Embarrassing or belittling children is a crude way of parenting. Why would any parent deliberately choose to make such a negative impression on a child? It is more cruel when adults do this in earshot of others, so people are aware of the insults and ridicule bestowed upon the child; marring the child’s confidence and self-esteem even more.
Children also find it embarrassing and belittling when parents discuss them and their ‘personal issues’ with others, while they are right there, either listening to the discourse or cowering in shame. The conversation can be between adults or worse still, between the parent and the child’s friend. It sounds insensitive to think that an adult would discuss their child with his school friend, but some adults do. They also make comparisons to shame their child into being more like his friend, or to curb some other undesirable behaviour.
Adults can behave as if children have no feelings, and should not feel humiliated when they are the centre of discussion. Showing little regard for the intellectual and emotional development of children is a subconscious attempt to keep them subdued, so they do not get ‘ideas beyond their station’. It is demeaning to treat growing children this way. Parents need to evaluate their behaviour.
Between the ages of two-three years old, children develop a sense of self. They begin to reflect on themselves from the perspective of someone else. Parents can help them become confident as they grow, by building their self-awareness; and through encouragement and praise. Belittling children brings negative aspects to their childhood. They may feel unloved and unsure of their relationship with their parents, therefore, hindering their socio-emotional growth.
Self-awareness is the ability to tune into your actions, thoughts and feelings and to recognise how other people see you and how you affect them. Adults have either a negative or positive influence on children through their words and behaviour. Examining self-awareness will enable adults to reflect on their actions and find more desirable methods of parenting.
The more skills you have, the better you can function at home, school, or work. We all possess amounts of self-awareness, but some people are more tuned in to the effect they have on people around them, and can adjust accordingly, showing empathy and understanding to children, colleagues, relatives and friends.
Self-awareness is one of the ’10 core life skills’ highlighted by the World Health Organisation (WHO). It is an important skill to hone, regardless of age, resulting in better communication in relationships.
Some parents who lack self-awareness may think it is okay to ask their child to lie for them, even to an adult. They may bribe the child with money or ice cream. The child will comply out of respect, unaware that he is being taught a terrible and devious habit and regardless of how embarrassed he feels. This example shows how a negative trait is passed down to children. If parents do not possess enough self-awareness, how will they teach it to their children?
To improve self-awareness, you must look at the way you think; your reasoning and emotions. Get to know your, strengths and weaknesses, your desires in life and your short-comings. Why did I react like that? Why do I always think that way? How can I dismiss negative thoughts, and think more positively? Am I fair or being selfish? How can I control my frustration?
People seldom take the time to monitor their emotions and reactions, but in doing so, we can learn about the impact or impression we make on our children and others, and therefore, build constructive, more progressive relationships.
This week is
CHILD PROTECTION WEEK.
The Childcare and Protection Agency, Ministry of Human Services and Social Security will commemorate this event under the theme
‘PROTECTING CHILDREN AND EMPOWERING FAMILIES TO COPE WITH THE GLOBAL PANDEMIC’.
Join our virtual rally, BREAKING THE SILENCE ON CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE on Wednesday, September 23, 2020 at 13.00 hours. Streaming simultaneously on the Ministry’s and CPA’s Facebook page or tune into the National Communications Network (NCN) for coverage @13.00 hours
If you are concerned about the welfare of a child call the CPA hotline on 227 0979 or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
A MESSAGE FROM THE CHILDCARE AND PROTECTION AGENCY,
MINISTRY OF HUMAN SERVICES AND SOCIAL SECURITY