Does your child yell back?

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I remember years back when I was serving Nigeria (NYSC duh!), it was one of those very hot afternoons so I sat outside hoping to catch any breeze that might happen to come my way and cool my patched and dehydrated body. Across the road lived a family. They weren’t Yorubas and I had gotten over culture shock but what unfolded right before my eyes shook me to the core. The Grandma who lived with them at the time (bless her soul) was scolding one of her little grandchildren who was being naughty. The youngling started screaming back at her Grandma and as if that wasn’t bad enough, extending all 5 fingers of one hand towards her Grandma.

Ah!!! Taboo!!!

Now, if you don’t know what that gesture meant, I am sorry, I can’t help you. Back to my story – very real by the way – I was itching to discipline that child and make her apologise to her Grandma for the next one year. The very Yorubaness in me refused such disrespect.

Growing up, if I even thought of doing such and my mother found out, I’m sure she’d have made sure that I regretted it for the rest of my life. How dare this little child!!! I did nothing though, just sat there and imagined all the things my mother would have done to me, if I was this little child. Maybe I’ll tell you why I did nothing some other time.

It never crossed my mind that I could as a human being yell at my Mum. Ever! Like my Mum will whoop you so badly you will forget your name. She was Madea on a whole new level and this is no joke.

But if you do have a child that yells at you or is disrespectful and this is coming from my heart, I believe you shouldn’t blame yourself for it. You have not done wrong as a parent and you’re not a failure. Children will always be children and that means they need guidance. It is true you might have overlooked some things in the past that has brought y’all here. But guilt-tripping you isn’t going to make this go away. You want to nudge and guide your child away from these habits that may be destructive, not throw yourself a pity party. Feel me?

The next thing to do is never ever try to have a shouting match. You will look foolish in the end. Why in the world are you screaming back at a kid/teenager? Are you trying to assert your Mumminess/Daddiness by winning the screaming match? Don’t. Please.

Don’t let your ego get involved. Remain calm. Your thoughts might be “How dare this little, ungrateful…” But remain calm. The calmer you are, the easier to think rationally.

Process facts rationally. If you will pause for 30 seconds without reacting, you will truly hear what your child is saying and what the underlying emotions are.

Discover the reason for agitation and if you are wrong apologise. Trust me, it will be so unexpected they might just shut up. The genuine surprise of you admitting a mistake rather than just smacking them into silence might truly earn you the respect you want.

Stand your ground. When everyone is calm, talk about what accepted behaviour is expected of them, the consequences that will follow and if the rules are broken, depending on the gravity of the offence dole out punishment.

It’s never okay to start hitting your child out of frustration, pent up anger etc, even if you believe in correcting your child with a “rod”, let it be void of establishing who the “Boss” is.

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