Words…..Only Words. The Power of Words.

Remember how I said I have books that I haven’t got the courage to read because of certain truths in them that will scare the ‘me’ out of me? I decided to take a go at them and things are shaping up.
I have read posts that promotes no-violence, especially by parents. I didn’t agreed with them at first because I didn’t think there could be another way to make the little ones obey instructions. For me, it has never been considered a topic as to whether a child should be flogged or not. Almost every home in Nigeria has a cane or even more. If I search my house thoroughly , I will find about 3/4 canes(don’t chew me yet). The fear of the cane is the beginning of wisdom or so we grew to think. So,as tradition , we followed suit.

I agreed with the tradition until I worked in a daycare. In the course of getting knowledge on the best practices for taking care of children, I saw that of all the ways to get through to the child, hitting child is a No No. How could that be possible? I thought to myself? Those psychologist propounding the theory should stay with my children and they will change their theory without second thoughts. However, some incidents made me think otherwise. In the daycare, I noticed that the kids already know how to hit, when to hit and who to hit. Some of them are forceful when they want the toy another child has that they might hit or scratch to get what they want. On the other hand you see a child as meek as a lamb. He has never raised his hands against anyone. Such child would rather come and report any ill meted against him. It doesn’t take long before you point out the child that has been exposed to violence and the one that hasn’t.

Potty training has never been amongst my strong points. I do not have the patience to wait it out. Recently, my baby was potty trained but it was not without the drama. From the onset, he was scared of sitting down on the potty. He didn’t mind standing to wee but to sit and poop was an uphill task for him. So, he will stand in a position and have his accident on the floor. At first, I tried talking him out of it but he continued. I resulted to the one method that we know works…… The cane. I spanked my 2 years and 6 months on his hands. Two small strokes that made him cry. Eventually, he got the feel of it, he started doing his business in the potty. Anytime he had an accident, his question would be,”mummy, will you flog me? I liked the sound of it until he started telling me that he told his aunty he wanted to poop and she said,’good boy’. Was there something different she did that I did not do? I was not enjoying the sound of his “will you flog me” as against “my aunty said good bog” .It got me thinking.

My kids are super active. They love each other but they pick on each other too. They have siblings squabbles that sometimes results to one hitting the other. I always tell them not to hit each other, so the victim always comes to report. I always reply with, “why are you hitting him? Do I hit you like that? You can imagine the moral battle I fight within me anytime I say that. What moral justification do I have to say that? I hit them, even when it is an act of disciplining them. As you can guess, the reports keep coming even after the scolding.

Last week, I spanked one of the boys so hard that I thought the bad behaviour was going to stop automatically. It didn’t work. He loves to jump chairs/tables, climb walls, somersaults and for a five year old, it scares me that he might break a bone or cut himself and he will be admitted in the hospital. After the last time I spanked him, I knew something must change. It was either he was becoming defiant and difficult to handle or my method was not working.

There are times that I have spanked the kids with such force that my heart ached for a long time. The ache was not because they were hurting but because I was hurting from the physical exertion. It takes such strength to hit anyone especially when done out of anger. So many times, I spank when angry and when I am done, I wonder what that was for? The times spanking has worked for me and them are those times I exercised the patience to explain why the cane had to come out from its hiding place. There are other times when the cane has brought some temporal relief. Every where is calm for a period of time and after that, it’s business as usual.

I am not saying no to spanking a child. There are times it is most effective. Parents should use the cane only at those times. What about hitting with the hands, slapping? Aren’t they all the same? Yes, they are. It has been said that hitting a child gives them the wrong belief that they can hit someone smaller than them. I say that is true because that was happening with my children already. What made me change my mind?

When I got tired of not seeing the result I wanted, I decided to use my words. Is it not amazing to think that the world was created with spoken words? There must be a certain force that words transmits when they reach the ear of anything or anyone that causes the thing heard to be a catalyst for an action. In the case of my son, I merely told him that if he kept on playing roughly that I would tell his class teacher not to let him out of the class during break period. As simple as that was, it did the magic. I made him understand the consequences of playing roughly and the price he would play if he kept at. I am sure staying back during break was a no-no for him. So, he decided to hold back from careless play. It is one week and some days now and I haven’t used the cane on him. I have been enjoying the easy camaraderie that has been in my house for some days now. I have not raised my hand to hit his older siblings and I think they are loving me more( I hope I am gloating too soon) I say so because, I notice they say things freely around me.

I am earning the right to say, “do I hit you like that?”. Make no mistake about it, it is not an easy talk. I talk more, I am learning patience, the patience to be calm and say things over and over till it sinks in. At the end of the day, everyone is happy and we are enjoying the benefits.

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