Every family has, or knows of a family that has, a problem child. We are aware of how much stress having such a child puts on the entire family, and sometimes on the community.
Last week, I shared my thoughts on the source of challenges we face as a society. The insecurity, corruption, rapes, violence, use of drugs and other social ills are but symptoms of a serious societal cancer.
The sources of some of our societal challenges include a weak value system and negative conditioned mindsets. The challenges we see in our children today started in the formative stages of life.
What you can do
1. Wake up
As individuals and society, we need to wake up from wishfully thinking that someone ‘out there’ is going to make things better for us. We must take responsibility for the challenges we face and be willing to bear the pain of corrective action if we are to create a better future.
2. Create time
We need to set sufficient time to define and occasionally review and reflect on personal and societal values. In the older days, values kept the members of a community towing the straight and narrow line. The societal challenges were different from the ones we face now.
In pursuit of achieving ‘development’, we have relegated the instilling of values to religious leaders and schoolteachers. At home, this role is assigned to the house-help, the media and the Internet. In my view, this has been a major contributor to the disastrous challenges we face.
3. Be the example
Lead by example, at home, at work, and wherever else you go. Let your values become your brand or part of your character. You have probably heard people saying of someone, or, better still, of you, “You can take her word to the bank.” We must be honest and beyond reproach.
4. Teach values
Use whatever opportunity you get to nurture values in your children, family and colleagues.
5. Nurture values
The best way to encourage truthfulness is to be a truthful person. Acknowledge your child and others when they are truthful. If your child lies, don’t overreact. Instead, help him or her find a way to tell the truth.
If you are aware that your child has acted badly towards another child, help him think of a way to compensate. Maybe he can give one of his toys to a playmate whose toy he has damaged. When you help your child make amends in a proactive way, it conveys a strong message of justice, negotiation and restitution.
Great feats in education, sports, business and politics have been achieved through determination. ?A powerful way to help children develop determination is to encourage them to do things that don’t come easily, and to praise them for their initiative. If your daughter is shy, for instance, encourage her to approach children she does not know on the playground. This will eventually help your child grow into a more determined person who does not give up at the first sign of difficulty.
Teaching your children to think about other people’s feeling will help them become more considerate and compassionate. Encourage or challenge your child to find the best ways to treat or deal with others. Over time, the child will see that words or actions can make another person smile or feel better, and that when you are kind to someone, they tend to be kind in return. This feedback encourages other genuine acts of consideration.
I know this does not sound African, but I will say it anyway: Show your child affection in a generous manner. ?Let your child see you demonstrate your love and affection for other people in your life as well. Talk to your children about how much you appreciate their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.
I believe by putting these simple things into practice, we shall build a better future. It is cheaper than building more courts, more prisons and buying more guns to kill our uncontrollable children just because we did not play our role.
The author is a life coach and founder of Peak Performance International, a human potential development firm: [email protected]