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Parents, mind punishment

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Children's Corner with PANIC CHILUFYA
TEACHING the difference between right and wrong is one of the responsibilities of every parent or guardian, but at times it calls for tolerance because ‘naughty’ behaviour is part of a normal stage of children’s development.

Children usually rely on adults in their lives to teach them how to behave in the world around them. It is therefore, important for adults to use clear, concise, age-appropriate language to teach children what they should or should not do. By doing this, parents or guardians will be inculcating appropriate knowledge about what is acceptable behaviour depending on the situation.

Children have been known to ‘misbehave’ for different reasons and usually if their basic needs are not met. For instance, a child who is hungry, tired, unwell or bored, is more likely to misbehave.
Recently, Racheal Kauseni of Lusaka severely burnt her two-year-old son’s hands with hot water for allegedly stealing food. Instead of trying to meet the immediate need to her child and understanding why her young son resolved to ‘misbehave’, the mother reacted by burning him with hot water. This resulted in Racheal’s prosecution and conviction because she assaulted a child whose basic need was not met; the child was hungry.
And last week, Brenda Tembo also of Lusaka was convicted after she assaulted her 13-year-old niece for using a pressing iron which she was not permitted to use. Brenda might have had her reasons for preventing her niece from using the pressing iron; it could have been for the young girl’s safety but in correcting the child, Brenda’s method was not only excessive, but cruel as well.
There are many other ways that can be used in correcting a child who is perceived to be naughty without inflicting harm, as was the case with Racheal and Brenda. Sadly, their actions led to the conviction and sentence to five years imprisonment each; it is a no-win situation for both the children and adults.
It is my hope that other adults who have a tendency to use excessive force when disciplining children will learn from the punishment slapped on Racheal and Brenda. There are other ways of enforcing discipline when children misbehave and it is equally important to understand what necessitates their behaviour.
According to Non-Governmental Organisations Co-ordinating Council (NGOCC) executive director Engwase Mwale, it is the duty of every parent and guardian to take responsibility of the welfare of minors under their care. Therefore, any wrongdoing should compel parents or guardians to reflect and evaluate what counsel they should provide to those under their tutelage.
Adults should aspire to inculcate good moral behaviour in children not just in the home, but also prepare them as individuals to stand confident and contribute positively in society.
Ms Mwale called upon parents and guardians to put children’s interest first and allow them to grow into responsible adults who are fully aware of their rights and responsibilities.
The onus therefore, rests upon adults to understand why children tend to misbehave and be able to respond in a more constructive and compassionate way, instead of immediately dishing out punishment that often causes more harm than good.
Remember, children are our future. Until next week, take care.
pcmalawochilufya@yahoo.com

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