The uproar generated by the sex tape involving pupils of a popular Lagos-based school while on an academic trip outside the country has deepened discourses on effective parenting and the ultimate roles of schools in both career and character building.
Many have argued that parents have an overriding role to play in training their children as they spent the most time with them. They are of the view that schools’ core mandate is to sharpen pupils’ academic skills.
But another school of thought noted that the contributions of teachers and by extension schools to the overall development of a child cannot be overemphasized. Though parents have essential responsibilities on their children, schools can improve pupils’ emotional and psychological wellbeing beyond improving their academic composure.
In her contribution to the issue, a child development psychologist, Mrs Mabel Okereafor, noted that communication was essential in raising a child, adding that lopsided communication could lead to nonalignment of expectations.
She further stated that because children were eager and imbued with a higher capacity to learn about their world, it was vital to communicate appropriately with them.
Okereafor said, “During child developmental stages, because of how fast children want to learn, they tend to have a lot of questions. We owe them a responsibility of ensuring that each of their questions is answered. To do this, there’s the need for effective communication. It is important for parents to know what their children are thinking, listen to them and know how to help them appropriately with their learning process.”
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Speaking about the roles of parents and society in grooming children into becoming better persons, the psychologist added, “One important thing about grooming a child is that there has to be a father figure in the life of a child growing up. The father figure will be able to guide them rightly.
“Also, we have to understand that all parties involved have to play their roles to ensure that a child matures into a good ambassador of society. The environment we live in, the mosques, churches, and schools, all have their roles to play.
“The government for instance has a role to play in censoring what children are exposed to. We can’t supposedly restrict children from accessing the internet today. However, the government has commissions who make rules for what is obtainable on the internet in their country. I was at an eatery sometime ago and I had to be covering my kids from what was being shown on the TV. I won’t take them to clubs or bars, but imagine having to watch celebrities smoke Indian hemp on TV and the vixens adorned with half clothes. These things are controlled by some government agencies; so if we have to talk about grooming children into better people, apart from parents, every institution has to create a value system that will allow the children grow into better persons by doing our own bit to make that happen.’’
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Another development psychologist, Mrs Grace Joseph, said that parents must listen to their children.
She said, “I was at the house of someone I know earlier this week. When I got there, she was beating her children and I asked why she was beating them that much. She said wouldn’t take nonsense from them. I told her that I don’t beat my children. Dealing with children means that we have to pay attention to every little detail, listen attentively to their complaints and guide them appropriately.”
Noting that children have to be free with their parents, Joseph urged parents to try to listen to their children.
She added, “If you don’t listen to them, when they see something they’re curious about outside, they won’t be able to discuss it with you because you didn’t give them the space to be able to do so. While nurturing my children, my third child likes to talk a lot. I’ve had my neighbours complain that he talks too much for a boy child. Of course, I have told them that he should be left that way because if he goes through greater things later, he’ll be able to speak about it.
“There’s nothing my children don’t discuss with me. If I should count, I doubt if I beat my children up to five times each. The person I discussed with was amazed and promised to replicate the same in her home.”
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On what was expected of parents in the development of their children, Joseph advised parents to be models to their children.’
Joseph noted, “The two parents have to be a model to their children. Children carefully learn from us as parents, and in the long run, they start replicating the behaviours they see from us as parents when they start growing into society. Ii is important that whatever behaviour we exhibit as parents, they are what our children are likely going to copy first because they see us as an authority who makes no mistake at that stage of their lives”
She further stated that the parents also have a role to play in ensuring that society doesn’t negatively influence their child.
Using her experience with her daughter as an example to buttress her points, she said, “While she was younger, she was attending a private school and I started noticing unnecessary likeness for her by the school principal. I decided to take her away from the school immediately. This means that parents have to be extremely cautious of everything going on in the lives of their children. As I mentioned earlier, if you’re not close to your children as a parent, you might find it extremely difficult to know anything about their activities.
“As for the school, it’s important that schools mould the character of children while guiding them on moral principles and conduct to lead to a sane life. Schools should imbibe the idea of having a psychologist who’ll independently speak to each of the children, and try to know where they can be better helped. This is because schools hold a high level of influence regarding how the children socialise with society. While the schools are also doing that, the parents need to aid the process.’’