COPING WITH A STUBBORN CHILD
by Demilade Eni-O'fe Omoniyi
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The importance attached to children in our world is not in any way negligible. A cross section of all nations, among various tribes, diverse colours and different languages, establishes the fact that the joy of most parents lies in their children. Seeing their children grow up to be good ambassadors of the family brings their joy to the fullest.
Generations by, children had respect for their parents as demi-gods and so took every of their words as that of an oracle. They had grown up to believe the saying that the father disciplines the son he loves- Proverbs 3: 12; only few rebellious kids existed then. In the last two decades however, the frequency of such rebellious ones has been on the geometric increase though not with much surprise because the Holy Scriptures had long before now assured us of this malady in the last days, as recorded in II Timothy 3: 2. Many kids now put up strange characters just to resist parents’ instructions. Funny enough, their strategies seem so effective that it appears they are beyond the control of parents. The good news however is that not all hope is lost; such stubborn kids can still be put on the right track.
Definitely, stubborn children require more attention from their parents, and such parents to must constantly seek ways to spare more time; if any tangible result is to be achieved. Asides this, the manner of training given to any other normal child must be modified as they may not be applicable here. To then ascertain the style of training to adopt, the most probable cause of such truancy must be found out. In fact, not all indiscipline amongst children are as a result of poor training, so getting to the root of the matter will be more ideal.
The home is the first school of the child. A child born into a home that hardly experiences peace, joy and shares love is likely to display the trait of stubbornness. Thus, the foremost thing to do in correcting such a child is to set the home in a condition right and conducive for the child to learn and grow.
It is also essential for a parent trying to address this problem to identify the child’s playmates. Peer group, an agent of socialization has a remarkable influence on a child’s character. An innocent child flocking with other stubborn kids in the school or neighbourhood has high chances of getting infected with such ill-behaviour. The child must be tactfully dissociated from such bad peers. The child might initially object this action but alternatively offering the child a better company will be helpful. Companion like colourful storybooks, good cartoons and toys may keep the child from seeing such bad peers often. If such peers are in school, consulting the school management for a change in the arm of class may help, that is, a child in Primary 2A for example, may be moved to another arm, say Primary 2B. Outright change of school may be better but must be done with care.
The point that some parents still practise poor or archaic teaching methods must be ruled out as a factor militating against the proper upbringing of such a stubborn child. Agreed that no parent brought such skills from heaven, but such guardian must learn the technique of good parenting in the 21st century very fast.
One notable mistake we make in this part of the world is we believe punishment is the major, if not the only way to correct a child. As soon as a child does wrong, our hands have been trained to use the rod on such a child. Children generally tend to develop thick skin against beating over time and so caution must be taken as to when to make use of the rod, after all, they are not animals! Rod should be used only for second-time offenders, that is, when an offence is intentionally committed after the initial warning. On the other hand, first-time offenders should only be reproved since most do so unwittingly. Our motives behind the punishment should also be right, that is correction should be our main goal during punishment. We must let the child know why he or she is being punished before enacting such punishment. The punishment must also commensurate with the offence committed.
One more important thing to put at the back of our mind concerning punishment is that it must be timely. Any punishment to be enforced must be as soon as the offence is committed. Delayed punishment will likely make the child to develop the stubborn attitude because the child may soon have forgotten how grave his or her offence was. Even while reproving a child, yelling should be avoided. Shouting at the child will usually make him or her to develop a kind of psychological reaction that encourages stubbornness. Also, once an offence has been punished, it should be forgotten. Continually making mention of it will make the child to feel as if he or she had not been forgiven and so may just develop an unteachable spirit. In a nutshell, punishment is good but must be timely, commensurable and the essence of doing so must be emphasized.
The pathway to achieving this feat may be initially crooked but on no account must such a child be left unattended to out of frustration, else we may be backing out of a peace deal- Proverbs 22: 6. Above all, we should not forget that such behaviour may also be due to demonic influence. This emphasizes the fact that such a child must be constantly remembered in prayer because with God, all things are possible!
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