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How to accept your child

By Vision Reporter

Added 16th December 2001 03:00 AM

You have high expectations of your child but is your salary the highest? -- Unacceptance leads to low self-esteem, stubbornness and laziness.

You have high expectations of your child but is your salary the highest? -- Unacceptance leads to low self-esteem, stubbornness and laziness.

Do you wish that you could exchange your child with the neighbour’s? Are you frustrated because your child did not score high marks? Acceptance is the answer, writes Education Vision’s Wangwau Jamesa. EIGHT -year-old Ivan Matovu caught my attention one morning when he appeared gloomy and withdrawn in class. The kind of mood was unlike his character. This boy was known to be lively, jovial and always smiling. After close enquiry, Matovu responded amidst tears. “My mother often says that I talk and laugh even when a fly passes. She would like me to be as quiet as my younger brother.” Matovu is a typical case of a child experiencing unacceptance from his parent. Children often complain of parents who compare them with other children. Indeed, some parents have often criticised their children for failing to score as high as the neighbour’s or colleague’s child. Matovu’s withdrawal as explained above is an act of self defence through which he can demonstrates his willingness to remain himself. Nancy Van Pelt in her book Train up a Child, explains that being accepted as we are is a basic human need.. We all crave for acceptance. A parent who tells a child to try and behave like another child is directly communicating unacceptance to that child. Please note that encouraging the child to work hard always and aim high is quite different from telling them to be like somebody else. Parents should learn to acknowledge the differences among children. Unconditional acceptance will make parents realise that different does not mean wrong.. Acceptance should be freely offered by parents based on the following. l Accepting that your child is a separate individual has separate likes and dislikes from yours. l Accept that your child also has feelings and is bond sometimes to feel angry towards you. l Accept that your child has a right to choose their own values and beliefs which may not necessarily tally with yours. “Parents tend to set high standards for their children which they never dreamt of attaining themselves,” says Angela Namutebi a P7 pupil, Highfield Junior Academy. There is nothing actually wrong with setting high standards for your child. However, one thing remains clear, a child is a human being bound to succeed and fail, and has to be accepted as such. Your child’s failure to attain the highest mark in class is neither strange nor a mistake. After all, do you get the highest salary in your office? Psychologists believe that self- acceptance is an important pre-requisite to accept your child at face value. Your ability to accept yourself as a parent with weaknesses is the first step towards accepting your child. Self-acceptance enables us to respond appropriately to other’s needs. Parents must view unacceptable behaviour as God would view sin in man. He hates sin in us but loves the sinner. Parents can do the same, hate unacceptable behaviour in the child but still love and accept the individual child. Acceptance, like any other feeling should be verbally expressed. Giving a child a warm, affectionate hug after punishment enables the parent to separate the child from the misbehaviour, says Dr James Dobson, a psychologist in his book Dare to Discipline. The child learns that they are still loved and accepted although what they did was wrong. Dobson warns that unacceptance is realised by the wounds their sense of pride. It also hurts self-esteem and arouses resentment. In an attempt to defend their individuality, the child may resort to being stubborn, lazy, uncooperative, silent or withdrawn. If your child feels uneasy in your presence because they wonder if they will come up to your standards, it is high time you showed unconditional acceptance. The writer is a counsellor and teacher at Highfield Junior Academy, Gayaza.

How to accept your child

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