When children are growing up, they do a lot of things. They like to discover and their curiosity is so high. They also like playing a lot, trying out different things without caring whether it is good or not. Others like imitating what they see the older ones are doing or what they watch on TVs especially cartoons and adverts. As they grow up, certain things remain in them but not all may have been good.
Also, everyone is ever faced with a challenge of peer pressure at all levels but the difference comes with how we manage it. And we all learn certain behavior at any level which can either be for our good or bad. This therefore calls us to be very observant with the new changes in our children’s behavior.
Normal behavior in children depends on the child’s age, personality, and physical and emotional development. The behavior of children vary with background and upbringing as well as the parenting styles. Parents who are neglectful or permissive are likely to have a certain kind of behavior instilled in their children in a certain way. But the most important thing for a parent is to identify what is happening in your child’s life. If you discover some disruptive behaviors among the young ones, don’t wait for it to get out of hand. Some behavioral incidences may seem small in your eyes. Others might look at it as carelessness or that is an obvious thing that children usually do. But knowing what to expect from your child at each age will help you decide whether his or her behavior is normal.
When you realize amongst the children regardless of age that something wrong is happening, it is your time to act. If your spouse tells you; I smell a problem in this child and we need to act or I have realized that our son no longer sleeps in the house. He comes back home very drunk and it appears he also takes drugs, don’t judge your spouse as being judgmental, too sensitive etc. If you are asked to engage the child, don’t be defensive or take sides. You are all parents and must agree on how to save yourselves and the “problematic” child from more/future problems. Some parents like to brush it off as none of their business. Some parents even confess how they are tired with their own children! You seem to have given up some time ago! Who then can parent them for you when it’s your primary responsibility?
Parenting can never be a one man’s business in a family that has both parents. Even in homes with single parents, they need to engage the uncles and aunties if you have tried your best and it is not yielding good results. As it was usually said that it takes the whole village to raise a child, this should not completely be lost out in modern cultures. We must keep our values intact to avoid modernity from eroding our cultural standards which are still relevant to safeguard our children’s behavior.
The children’s unusual behavior need checks and balances, otherwise if left to be no parent’s business, the reverse may happen and this could bring both of you to blame each other yet you can put the damaged parts together. Please always implement your resolutions with immediate effect and both of you share responsibilities in handling children’s/family’s issues. Use preventive method, pay attention to your children’s/wife’s pleas, take time to talk to your child from what you are hearing, don’t be quick to overreact when this can cause a distance between you and the child, set rules and explain them to your child, teach them to apologize, be deliberate to be in their lives and give them quality time.
The writer is a child advocate and a parenting coach, based in Kampala.