A video appeared online showing a father bashing his son’s toy in order to get him to eat. The father might have thought himself smart for using such a method.

But internet users found his technique shocking, disgusting, and traumatic.  This method of terrorising children to make them behave is very harmful and also a form of child abuse.

The use of fear as a corrective measure is commonly practiced among African parents. Most parents believe it to be the most effective method of parenting. So, it is neither rare nor a shocking sight to see a parent spanking a child down an African street. If anything people would be impressed by such a level of discipline.

It doesn’t stop there though.

Most African adults and children have had to endure threats from their parents all their lives. From the threats of confiscating toys to threats of withdrawing food. Some even go to the extent of threatening to stop paying their children’s school fees until they behaved.

Yet of all the disciplinary measures used by parents in Africa, the most barbaric is the one where they use pepper on children’s private parts for little wrongdoings.

Does terrorising children to make them behave work?

Africa parents use fear as a corrective measure because they genuinely think it works. They’ve experienced the same treatment from their own parents. Lacking the self-awareness to see how it affected them, they draw from their experience to bring up their own children.

But, if parents in Africa would pause and reflect on their own upbringing, they would most likely find that fear as a tool of correction doesn’t really work. Eight out of nine times they didn’t do as their own parents instructed despite the threats and the fear of lashing. Instead, they went ahead and did what they wanted in secret.

How does terrorising children to make them behave affect them?

Fear is hardly a productive emotion. It doesn’t breed love or respect. And no parent would want their children to not love and respect them. These are some negative effects of terrorising children.

It causes psychological distress to kids

A 2013 study by Elizabeth Gershoff and her team reviewed the previous two decades of research and confirmed that children whose parents beat them are more likely to exhibit depression, anxiety, drug use, and aggression as they get older. Children who have suffered more severe corporal punishment have been shown to have less gray matter in their frontal cortex, and to have amygdalas that are more hyper-vigilant.

Fear alienates you from your children

 A lot of African adults love and respect their parents out of duty. This is mainly due to the kind of relationship they had with parents growing up. In fact, they can’t wait to move out and start living alone. Parents then have to resort to begging for a visit to no avail.

You would end up raising bullies

Children are little sensitive things. They pick up on the way you treat them using anger and fear.

This will not only ruin your relationship with them, but it will also have a negative effect on future relationships with other people. They will turn to bullying every time they run into conflict.

How can African parents raise well-rounded children?

Discipline is an important aspect of a child’s upbringing. Sometimes you end up scaring your children while trying to be strict. So how can you teach manners without using fear?

The answer is to be their model. Talk to them with respect as you would an adult. Learn to say please when you need them to do something for you. Apologize when you’re wrong. Never raise your voice at your spouse. Not only your spouse but even the lowest in society. Children learn faster from observing your actions.

This article was first published on AfricaParent.com



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