- Written by Queen Munguti for KenyaKidz
Kenyan parents are being urged to embrace dialogue in a bid to combat indiscipline in children especially when dealing with teenagers.
“The age of 12 to 18 years is the dreaded stage of any parent,” said Dr. Susan Gitau, a child psychologist and a lecturer at Africa Nazarene University. “At this age, it is when they want to be independent and parents are fearful that they are losing their child and so they may exercise more control of them which will lead to rebellion in teenagers, so it best to engage in dialogue with them rather than restrict them and find out what they are going through.”
By dialogues parents also need to talk to them about sex because it is at that stage that they are more likely to engage in sexual activites and are also confused about their sexual orientation. If parents do not, then they will imitate what they watch on television or what their friends do.
Dr. Gitau also encourages the giving of assignments as a form of discipline, a method she admits may not be popular, that make them think. “Give them an activity that engages their brain rather than a punishment that may end up doing more harm than good.”
“It is also good to talk to them earlier about this critical stage as a way of preparing them for their teenage years and encourage a health self identity.”
She however notes that disciplining children depends with their age. For children between six to eleven years, they are more interested in playing with their peers rather than listening to their parents, so it will be unhealthy and wise for a parent to restrict their child from playing as a form of punishment.
“At this age, they are active and are a starting to show their unique qualities. The energetic children may bully their peers; others may not have a discipline issue but suffer from a low self-esteem while others are generally good and perform well in class, helping teachers in school and parents at home. For children at this stage, some resistance is good.”
For children at the age of three to six years, parents may experience the most discipline issues at school because they will be trying to adjust to school life.
“This is the stage where they have just started school and they are used to having their own play toys but at school they have to share, so they will get into fights with children who will take ‘their toys’.
“It is best for parents to support them in this development stage and encourage healthy play by talking to them in a language that they can understand while also giving them the ability to be themselves.”
However if parents want to encourage children to behave better at this age, they need to let them know the different rules and also be their role models. “If you want your child to wake up early then as a parent you need to also wake up early thus setting a good example for them, this encourages them to do better. Parents should also validate them if they do well in a particular activity.”
All in all, Dr Gitau urges parent to think of their child’s development first before thinking of the disciplining them.