When the hitting stops, the learning will begin.
I GOT a call from a parent of an eight-year-old school girl last week. She related how her daughter was punished repeatedly by her class teacher followed by the vice-principal, both on the same day. After she complained to the parent-teacher committee chairman, she was told to wait for their action.
A week passed by and no action was taken. Her daughter was beaten again this week after a two-day absence. It appears that the adults are unmindful of the fact that hitting a child has adverse effects. They use violence against the child to make her submit to their will.
In To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Scout, a six-year-old, told her uncle after he punished her for fighting with her cousin: “You don’t really understand children.”
How true! Adults do not know that children have a great capacity for understanding. They treat children as though they know nothing and can do nothing.
Listening is a powerful skill
They need you to listen to them. They do not need you to show them how powerful you are. They need you to make their environment safe for them so that they can learn in full trust. Children have keen observation. They learn to be what you show them.
When my 12-year-old daughter learned of the school beating, she said: “The teachers in the school have many issues of their own to deal with.”
She also told me that there is one classmate from her former school, whom the teacher would hit her every day for one reason or another. Her parents never turned up to talk to the teacher.
My daughter, who was 10 years old at that time, explained: “Parents need to protect their children from such cruel things in school.”
She feels very strongly about corporal punishment in school. She would speak up whenever she sees or hears children being punished by their teachers.
During a moral lesson, the teacher spoke of children who needs to be discipline. She added that some children are really very naughty and they deserve the cane. My daughter raised her hand and declared: “When you hit a child with a cane, it is child abuse.”
A 10-year-old child could weigh the severity of the matter. Children have ideas and opinions. If adults listen to them, they will be able to make a difference in everyone’s lives.
Parents must make sure that their children are safe in the classrooms before sending them there. If you are looking for the right preschool programme, talk to the teacher first.
A good school is where children can learn and develop in a safe and supporting environment. Look around you, pay attention to how the teachers run the classes. Observe how the children respond to the teachers. Do they seem happy or scared?
Make time to talk to your child’s class teacher. Ask her about a typical day. You may also want to know how she handles challenges in the class. Ask her: “How do you deal with a child who behaves badly in class?”
Find out children’s needs
Children have needs. When they do not receive attention for their needs, they will act up or behave negatively. Adults who understand will help them learn appropriate means to express themselves.
Parents and teachers need to learn skills to handle children’s misbehaviours. The use of positive discipline at home and in school can enrich children’s lives and help them reach their full potential. Instead of lashing out at them, adults can find ways to make learning enjoyable so that children will want to remain in school and love learning.
Ruth Liew is an expert in early childhood education, child development, parenting, and child care. She is an author and a columnist.