Children’s Day 2020: How to Raise Your Kids the Right Way
Today, we’re celebrating all children in our country, Nigeria. We celebrate differently-abled children, children who have been diagnosed with cognitive challenges; children who are ‘stubborn’, nice, beautiful, thin, fat, happy.
We remember children who have died, especially our loved ones (Nigeria has one of the highest child mortality rates in the world). We also remember children abandoned by parents-mothers and fathers, children used in forced labor, children who are victims of trafficking, kidnapping, verbal, physical, emotional and mental abuse, sexual violence and maltreatment, children who feel worthless.
And on this special day, we’ve thought about ways you can raise your children, present or future kids, to be wholesome individuals who respect people and support equality.
Raising children the right way requires a good amount of dedication and hard work. Research shows that from ages 3-5, children can start learning about gender differences and this contributes to shaping their confidence, their personalities, and their general outlook about themselves and their peers. This is the time to stop saying things like, “why are you crying like a girl?” “What a stubborn boy you are!” “big boys don’t cry.” and so on.
You should teach your children valuable qualities like equality and self-worth, as you teach them their ABCs and 123s.
We’ve put together some simple tips to help you do this below.
- Lead by showing a good example.
Children learn the most by imitating their parents, family members, and those close to them. If you want your daughters and sons to grow up learning how to take care of themselves and to know that cooking is a necessary skill, both parents should show an example by cooking and running the family together. This way, they will learn that no job is reserved just for a specific gender. By this, we will also be building up better-informed leaders for tomorrow.
- Teach your children to play different sports and games.
If you want to see your child maximize their highest potentials, do not restrict the games they can play by gender. You can teach your daughters and sons to be emotionally intuitive and nurturing by allowing them to play with dolls while building up their cognitive skills when they play other games like car racing. This will help them develop the right way, believing in their capacity to succeed at any task, regardless of gender.
- Use the right language with children around you.
When you need to correct or caution your children, don’t reduce their actions to their gender. If your baby boy is crying, don’t tell him he is crying like a girl. If your baby girl is seemingly stubborn, don’t complain that she is acting like a boy. Rather, find ways of correcting their actions by speaking to the action, not the gender of the child: “that is not the proper way to sweep the floor” not “is this how a girl should sweep?”; “you should not sleep all day” not “is this how you will be lazy in your husband’s house?”
- Monitor the information and knowledge your children get.
Whether it is from their school books, or their teachers, or their playmates, or television/the internet, watch the information your children are exposed to. Try as much as possible to limit them from learning things like the song: “mommy in the kitchen cooking rice; daddy in the parlor watching film”. The information they get at these young ages helps in forming their mindsets and changing them at older ages is more difficult. When your kids get exposed to unhealthy information, explain in detail to them why it is wrong and what the right thing should be. For instance, if a teacher or church member is calling your child their wife, not only should you warn that person, you also tell your child it is wrong and why it is wrong to encourage such behavior.
- Teach your kids about their bodies and about consent.
Teach your kids about their bodies, about what kind of touch they should not allow or keep quiet about from anyone, and about the need to get consent before touching other people. It is not only diseases we have to be wary about, but we also have to be careful about other people’s boundaries. Teach your children to sexual and reproductive health, right from when they are young. Teach them, not to warn them as though they are doing something bad. Teach your kids to love their bodies. Teach your children to respect other peoples’ bodies. Teach them and show them by your example.
For Children’s Day 2020, this is what we have compiled to help create a future with better adults.
What do you have to add to our list?