Striking A Balance Between Pampering And Good Upbringing
…Improving Moral Values Of Young People
A number of today’s parents want to do the right thing for their children. They desire lofty ideals for their children and strive to give them the very best in terms of education, their welfare and wellbeing. Often, they want to spare their children all the hardship they themselves had to experience, while growing up. Thus, they supply the children all the good things of life and ensure they don’t lack anything. In the process, however, they sometimes end up over-pampering these children. In providing this ‘excellent’ condition for their children, some parents unconsciously cross the thin line between caring for and spoiling the children. This has also led to moral value decay, which is quite evident today as young people now lack the basic ethical worth which an African is known for.
Perhaps the problem lies in the fact that discipline means different things to different people.
Dr. Emmanuel Balogun has four children and believes that his disciplinarian nature, which has enabled him instill essential values and virtues in children, cannot be compromised.
“I am a disciplinarian. I don’t know how to pamper a child and so, I expect some basic standard of behaviour and conduct from my children,” he says. “In most cases, I play my role by providing their basic needs and I add to it moral instructions of what is expected of them within the society. I never also fail to discipline my children when they err, because for me, discipline takes different forms. For instance, if my child mistakenly breaks a cup and he reports himself and apologises, then he/she is free. But if my child persistently engages in telling lies, even when it is not necessary, then he/she will attract my wrath.
“However, I also expect my children to play their part, when it comes to their upbringing because just as it is expected of me to provide their basic needs and send them to good schools, it is also their duty to perform well in school and not run into trouble. If they do, they certainly cannot run back home without attracting a punishment. They know it is better to be on my good book. Each time any of my children does well, I am more than pleased and I give that child some incentives as a form of encouragement.”
As Balogun is a man of modest means, he says he expects his children to conform to this reality.
“I try as much as possible to discourage them from pretentious life. For instance, I believe a child in primary school has no business possessing a mobile phone or making very attractive hairstyles. Why would you want to spend so much time on something that is not meaningful? In other words, I cannot say I have ever had cause to pamper a child. But then, I have also had no cause to over-discipline a child, because most of them know that if you act or conduct yourself very well and live within your means, you will always receive favours from me,” he explains.
In Balogun’s view, it is necessary for parents to give their children thorough moral instructions. They should also encourage their children not to see life as a rat race by living within their means and being responsible.
Mrs. Bernice Igben shares the same view with Balogun, when it comes to child discipline. Pampering children is not in her dictionary, as she believes that when they get older, the repercussion bounces back on the parents.
“Discipline should be inculcated in children from a very tender age and on time, so that as they grow, they will develop with it. That is what the Bible says; that we should train up children in the way they should go and when they are old, they will not depart from it. Of course, as a mother, I show love and affection to my children, but when the love becomes something else, then I am spoiling them and it is what you put in them that they will portray outside.”
Describing what she considers pampering, the mother of four says: “If I do not teach my toddler how to ask for her potty, when she needs to urinate and she does it on her body, as she grows older, she will continue in this way and then it becomes a problem for me. But with timely caution and admonition, she becomes conscious whenever she wants to urinate and will ask for her potty.
“The other day, I asked one of my sons to pick the beans in preparation for lunch. He told me it’s a woman’s job and that men don’t belong in the kitchen. I responded by telling him that it is a good opportunity to learn cooking, while still staying with me in the house, which is sure to become useful and come handy in the future. I consider this a form of discipline because if he doesn’t know how to do it now, even after getting married, he won’t know what to do. And so, when I flog him, he is forced to do what I ask him to do. That way, whenever I ask him to do anything, and he remembers the strokes of cane, he gets to work.
Dr. Temilola Olusegun, a lecturer in the sociology department, University of Lagos, says there is a thin line between pampering and disciplining a child.
“When you pamper a child, then you are giving him/her some level of freedom to do whatever he/she likes. But discipline has to do with ensuring that instructions given are strictly adhered to,” he explains.
Even though the sociologist is not completely against pampering a child, he, however, notes that it should not be done to the point, where it affects the child’s upbringing, especially in relating with other children and adults.
“I advise that parents should not over pamper their children. They should, however, ensure that when trying to discipline their children, it is done in an atmosphere of love and learning, because there are key moral instructions a child should become acquainted with as he grows up, so that he wouldn’t become a menace or nuisance to the society. So, there should be a way to strike a balance. A parent can promise to buy his/her children a gift, when they perform excellently in their studies. That is a form of encouragement.
“When a child is over pampered, the consequences are intense. The child may end up making unnecessary demands on society and try to live outside his/her meanings, which in turn creates social problems. Unlike when children are well trained and they become good and responsible citizens in the society.”
To Joy Ogbonnaya, an educationist and founder of To’Kallos Life Academy, love and affection play a great role in how well a child turns out in life, as these two form a vital part of discipline, when properly administered. As such, she is of the view that every child deserves to be loved and pampered.
“Children need undivided attention and quality time with the significant adults in their lives. They need to be told kind words, hugged, tickled and lifted in the air. They need to be bought nice things, taken to nice places and be assured of our love as parents, guardians and teachers. Children learn from adults what love is and they learn to express love to others, as they receive love from the significant adults in their lives. Those who do not receive sufficient amount of love from home are most likely going to have issues with low self-esteem, depression and hostility.
“There must be a fine blend of reward and punishment for discipline to be effective. In fact, we lose our children, when we are so focused on identifying and correcting bad behaviours and pay no attention to identifying and rewarding/celebrating good behaviours. Love and discipline are two sides of the same coin that cannot be separated while raising a child,” she explains.
A lecturer in psychology at Lagos State Polytechnic, Mr. Egbayelo Mobitemi, while speaking on the factor that contribute to the lack of moral values in young children said it can be attributed to learning process. “Most often, you see parents and the society reinforcing bad behaviour by giving reward for it and so that child continues in that manner. In today’s world, if you are gentle, people see you as an idiot who doesn’t know the happenings in his/her environment and when your mates are rewarded for evil, you tend to join them. You see people given national awards and recognitions for doing wrong, if you look at the roll call of national awards, you see people with questionable character.