By Sharmon Carrington
Our children are bombarded by various influences that can distract them and pull them in various directions. Movies, TV, video games, stresses and conflicts at school can all contribute to a youth’s retreat, often opting for activities that can be detrimental to them. In school, many educators may flag this behaviour early as being anti-social.
Although this may not be the case of every youngster, as parents, we are not wrong in worrying that our kids are not making the right kind of social interactions that will serve them well in their future.
However, there are things we can do to help them be more involved.
- Technology can hinder more than help: Although this is the age of technology, which is a great help for everyone, it can also be a hindrance to our children’s communication skills. We should ensure that social graces and good manners are still adapted by our kids as this interaction greatly affects the way they establish relationships with others – teachers, friends, parents and employers alike, and they are all important elements of good character.
- Get your children involved in a youth activity/organization: There are several organizations in the community which have proven to be beneficial to children, each applicable to different ages; some of which are Boy Scouts; Girl Guides; Air Cadets; Sea Cadets, physical activities such as soccer; swimming; tennis etc. and many others which are offered at local community centres. Involvement in these activities not only builds character, but improves self-esteem; provides a sense of responsibility; encourages respect for others and creates a sense of accomplishment. Extracurricular activities such as these provide positive information to prospective employers and contribute to a great college or university application. Studies have shown that children who are involved in these types of activities are excellent performers in school and ultimately in the workplace.
- Encourage your children to choose their friends wisely: Insist that they choose friends who could and would influence them in a positive manner, or who appear to be developing along a similar educational path or similar long term goals. Encourage your children to invite their friends to visit your home, perhaps for lunch, dinner, snacks, to watch a movie or just a quick visit. This would provide an opportunity for you to get to know their friends and ultimately their parents. Obtain the names and telephone numbers for your children’s friends, especially those with whom they spend the most time. Do not be afraid to initiate a relationship with their parents.
- Participation of Community: It is true that not everyone is opened to accepting help from other parents and members of the community, when it comes to his/her child, but sometimes, it is important to do so for the benefit of the child. Members of our community, relatives and friends must get involved in the education and socialization of our children. We can all make a valid contribution by assisting any parent who is dealing with the illness in the family or elder care etc. With permission we can do this by lending support to assist a child with homework assignments, taking a child to an after school activity or teaching a child to improve his/her reading or math skills.
Parents who require assistance must make it known, because others would not know that assistance is required.
There are many educated persons in our community who would be happy to assist if they are asked. Many of us continue to say, “It takes a village to raise a child” but, we do absolutely nothing to ensure that this becomes a reality for our children.
Each of us needs to create a mindset that says, ‘Every child is my child’ and start acting as if this is so.
We, as parents, should make special efforts to give our children a better opportunity to compete.
Sharmon Carrington was a former certified school teacher in Guyana for six years. She previously worked at Health Canada as a Senior Advisor. She is now retired after 34 years of Federal public service, serving in several departments. She is married, has two adult children and was very involved in their education. Sharmon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.