Sunday, April 26, 2009

How we behave as parents shapes our children’s behaviour

The school-based parenting education for adolescence (SPEA) is a new concept that has been recently started by the education ministry and the schools. April will be observed as the “positive parenting month” with the theme ‘connecting lives’. The concept is to strengthen the importance of parents in shaping their children to become responsible and respectable citizens of tomorrow.
The objectives of the SPEA programme are manifold, and the main one is to create awareness among parents about issues that concern the children at this vulnerable stage in their life. One of the major issues is the use and abuse of substance because of peer pressure. It all happens in an innocent way. But that is when the parents have to be careful.
Teachers say that the responsibility fall more on the parents than the teachers. Which is of course right because the children stay with us. We as parents have to nurture and groom them. Our responsibility goes beyond providing just food and clothes.
It is interesting to note some of the recommendations put forward by the students of Jigme Namgyel junior high school. Topping the list is their request that parents spend more quality time with them and that they listen to their problems and needs and inquire about how their day at school had been.
Of course, domestic violence and discord have always had an unsettling effect on the growing mind. The girls want guidance from their mothers on personal issues. There are problems that they cannot openly discuss with their fathers.
It may sound embarrassing: but the children also want their parents ‘to refrain from activities like gambling, late night parties and having extra marital affairs.’ We may not realise it but the children know that these activities are the source of domestic violence.
Now let’s not go into what constitutes domestic violence. It is not only physical but also psychological. The physical may result in injury, harm, disability and even death. But emotional psychological violence may result in long term damages that manifest only later in life.
The causes are obvious: extra marital fairs have been assessed as the main cause followed by alcohol, gambling and matters related to economic issues. How do children (in the age group of six and 11 years) react to what they observe at home?
They are said to be at great risk of ‘recreating the abusive behaviour they have seen and behaving abusively and violently with their siblings and peers.’ They are prone to disruptive behaviour and outbursts of anger and fighting.
The effect of domestic violence changes with the age group. Some adolescents may feel extreme guilt for being unable to prevent domestic violence. Some blame themselves for being the cause of such violence.
Whatever it is, they learn through their parents and their own experience and they may come to believe that abusive behaviour and violence is the primary method of conflict resolution. Studies have also shown that children exposed to domestic violence have a 74 percent higher likelihood of committing assault as adults.
Besides, the domestic violence affects child’s self-esteem, capacity to trust others, and how they approach all relationships in their life.

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