Our chil­dren’s fu­ture

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - PARENTING -

AF­TER the launch of a cam­paign against child abuse and ne­glect was over, I com­pli­mented one fa­ther whose seven-year-old girl had par­tic­i­pated in the event. We dis­cussed cor­po­ral pun­ish­ment in pri­mary schools.

The fa­ther told me that he had spo­ken to his chil­dren’s teach­ers and given them per­mis­sion to pun­ish his chil­dren when they mis­be­have. Sad to say, this is ex­actly why we need a cam­paign against child abuse and ne­glect.

We need ev­ery­one to un­der­stand chil­dren and know how to pro­vide for their phys­i­cal, emo­tional and de­vel­op­men­tal needs. There is no greater task for a par­ent or a care­giver than to en­sure the safety of their chil­dren, and to of­fer them guid­ance and pro­tec­tion.

Child abuse is not some­one else’s prob­lem. It be­longs to ev­ery­one. Just be­cause our chil­dren are not hurt or ne­glected does not mean we are ex­empted from putting a stop to child abuse. Ev­ery mem­ber of our so­ci­ety should be in­volved. Ev­ery child in our com­mu­nity should be our re­spon­si­bil­ity.

As long as there are peo­ple out there who be­lieve that chil­dren need to be dis­ci­plined by the cane for them to learn the proper way, then our chil­dren are not safe.

Most adults feel in­fu­ri­ated when they hear chil­dren whine or throw a tantrum. They in­stinc­tively want to stop such be­hav­iour as quickly as pos­si­ble. An oc­ca­sional spank­ing on the be­hind and a smack to stop the fuss­ing may work from time to time. How­ever, the more a par­ent uses phys­i­cal force to end the child’s mis­be­haviour, the more dif­fi­cult the child be­comes.

Many of our coun­try’s child abuse cases go un­re­ported and chil­dren suf­fer in si­lence. In 2008, it was re­ported that ev­ery day, an av­er­age of seven chil­dren in Malaysia were vic­tims of abuse and ne­glect.

What can we do about this prob­lem? For starters, we must look at chil­dren with the right at­ti­tude. Many still hold the neg­a­tive per­cep­tion that naughty chil­dren should be dis­ci­plined by force.

Adults need to un­der­stand how chil­dren learn and de­velop. Chil­dren can learn to man­age their be­hav­iour. Chil­dren have needs that re­quire par­ents to pro­vide for them.

Many par­ents as­sume that chil­dren will only be­have bet­ter when they are fear­ful. They want their chil­dren to be un­der their con­trol. One mother said of her five-year-old: “Oh, he usu­ally qui­etens down when I take out the cane.”

Par­ents do not plan to hurt their chil­dren. Some­times when things get rough at home, par­ents are stressed and find them­selves un­able to deal with a scream­ing tod­dler. They have been ill-ad­vised that chil­dren who have tasted the cane will be more obe­di­ent and eas­ier to man­age.

Con­trary to this be­lief, ag­gres­sive par­ents of­ten raise ag­gres­sive chil­dren. We need to change the way we han­dle chil­dren if we want pos­i­tive re­sults. When adults make time to lis­ten and pay at­ten­tion to their chil­dren’s needs, they will find that their chil­dren dis­play­ing more pos­i­tive be­hav­iours.

Be­fore par­ents go about man­ag­ing their chil­dren’s be­hav­iour, they have to do some self-eval­u­a­tion. Know your­self and what makes you up­set. Does it bother you if your child re­fuses to eat veg­eta­bles and only takes fruits in­stead? Why do you get an­gry at your child when he re­fuses to lis­ten to you? Di­rect the ques­tions to your­self first be­fore you point the fin­ger at your child.

A neg­a­tive sit­u­a­tion can be turned around when adults use more of: “I un­der­stand that you are ...” Speak di­rectly to chil­dren and look them in the eyes. Chil­dren be­come more at­ten­tive when they know adults are concerned about them. Stay firm, main­tain di­rect con­tact and tell your child that what he has done is not ac­cept­able. More im­por­tantly, show him what he can do that is right.

We can do so much more as par­ents when we opt for the no-spank­ing pol­icy. We can even share this with our friends and relatives. Tell ev­ery­one that chil­dren are peo­ple, too! They de­serve our re­spect; even when they do wrong, we can help them to change.

Chil­dren need us to see and lis­ten to them as they are. Why? Be­cause one day, they will be­come adults and they will do the same to their young ones. n Log on to www.unitea­gain­stabue.my for more in­for­ma­tion and to par­tic­i­pate in cre­at­ing a bet­ter fu­ture for our chil­dren.

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