A 4 year old boy went to his dad on a Saturday morning, crying. This was their conversation :
Dad: Why are you crying?
Son: Mommy hit me
Dad: What did you do?
Dad: How do you mean nothing?
Son: I did nothing wrong, daddy.
Surprised, the man called his wife and said, “Daniel has been crying, he said you hit him. I know he must have done something stupid.” ” Of course, ” said the wife. “can you imagine? he was playing with the electric kettle.” Then the conversation between father and son continued:
Dad: Daniel, you said you did nothing wrong but your mom said you were playing with the electric kettle.
Son: Yes, dad, I did nothing wrong. I wasn’t playing with the electric kettle. I wanted to boil water so I could make you a surprise cup of tea because today is your birthday and I know you like your tea very hot.
It is true that children could be mischievous but sometimes, they do have good motives for their actions even thought they may get things upside down while trying to do the right thing.
Children think. They most times have clearly set objectives for their actions, though they often mess things up due to lack of experience. However, we may never discover these motives or the intelligence behind their actions unless we give them the opportunity to explain their actions.
Punishing children without asking them questions or telling them their offences may leave them confused. In the case of the boy in our case study, we know that his mom was concerned about his safety but as far as the little boy was concerned, he just got punished for taking the initiative to make daddy a surprise cup of tea on his birthday. This is enough to inhibit the discretion and creativity of any child. The punishment was not necessary in the first place. All that the mother needed to have done after preventing the little boy from using the electric kettle himself, was to find out exactly what the young man was up-to. Perhaps he would have shared his idea with mommy, and she would have assisted him in making his dream of a surprise birthday tea for his daddy come true. After then, she could explain to him that it is dangerous for him to use the electric kettle by himself. Children are smarter than adults realise, though we often mistake their lack of experience for foolishness.
When next your child does anything wrong, don’t just go ahead to punish. Ask questions. The questions to ask children include:
-how did this happen?
-what were you trying to achieve?
-what were your thoughts?
-Do you think there is a better way you could have gone about this?
-if you were to do this again, what would you do differently?
Rosemary Oshiomah Ogedengbe