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Pan Mwanza, Sema Tanzania, Giving Voice to Children

Pan Mwanza, Sema Tanzania, Giving Voice to Children

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Published by C-Sema
This paper has been prepared by a team of experienced teachers and will look at seven lifestyles or ideas to help parents relate in an understanding way with their children hence ensuring they grow for a competitive tomorrow.
This paper has been prepared by a team of experienced teachers and will look at seven lifestyles or ideas to help parents relate in an understanding way with their children hence ensuring they grow for a competitive tomorrow.

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C-Sema Group www.sematanzania.org

GIVING VOICE TO CHILDREN
This paper has been prepared by a team of experienced teachers and will look at seven lifestyles or ideas to help parents relate in an understanding way with their children hence ensuring they grow for a competitive tomorrow.

Table of Contents (i) PRELUDE.
2. BE PROACTIVE

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3. IT’S THE END TO JUSTIFY THE MEANS.
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FIRST THINGS FIRST. THINK WIN-WIN. .

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UNDERSTAND TO BE UNDERSTOOD. . SYNERGIZE. . . .
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8. SHARPEN THE SAW.. 9. ANNEXED POEM. .

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We advocate & Specialize in Child Educational Rights; legal advisory services to research projects and the development of advocacy tools within Tanzania specifically on Children and education, Children and participation, Children and violence, Gender and girls, Individual cases of violations, M&E, Rights based programming, Sexual exploitation of children, etc . C-Sema is duly registered in accordance with the Company’s Act, RE 2002. Our address is:

C-Sema Group, 17 Sea View-Upanga, P. O. Box 110132 U-Hill, Dar es salaam. Tel: +255 685 401239/713 223 606/767 269 308, Fax: +255 222 420 702. info@sematanzania.org www.sematanzania.org

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Giving Voice to Children
(i) Prelude

For children life is not a playground, it is a jungle and being a parent is not a walk in the park. Parents have a responsibility to help them learn the principles and ethics that will enable them to reach their goals and live a successful adult life: a conforming voice- giving an opinion and attitude to the children. While it’s all well and good to tell kids how to live their lives, children watch what parents do more than what they say. Parents have to practice what they preach. The parent’s example can be very influential. Back during our parents’ era, the 1960s and early 1970s parenting skills were learned from the extended family. If parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles didn't live in the same house, they usually lived within a few mitres. They were always available to impart their considerable wisdom to the younger generation on the subjects of pregnancy, childbirth, and raising children. Now, we have become such a transient society; it is rare that the extended family is even in the same Region/Province/Nation! Most of children have never seen their grandpa/moms, uncles, aunties, etc. It’s is therefore calling for a committed mother and father to instill some brains into these innocent young ones. Effective parenting has never been more vital to a family’s success than these days. Proper parenting shapes the coming generations, and the way the next generation will behave. The classroom experience as teachers, has taught us that parenting without a proper foundation has always and indefinitely lead to confusion for any developing child. That is why the attempt of trying to groom successful parenting skills in Africa is so important and we hope that the PAN Network grow to reach all nations in Africa, soon. This paper has been prepared by a team of experienced teachers and will look at seven lifestyles or ideas for helping parents relate in an understanding way with their children hence ensuring they grow for a competitive tomorrow. 1. Be Proactive By being proactive a parent unlocks other habits and potentials within the child. With this a child takes control and responsibility for his/her life. Proactive parents must understand that they are responsible for their own children’s happiness or unhappiness. They don’t have to blame others for their own actions and feelings. It’s all about being responsible. Being a better parent is an art and it has to be learnt. Some parents are strict and disciplined with their children under the assumption that, if parents are not strict with children, children may learn indiscipline and may develop different bad habits. While this is true to some extent, there are many alternative methods to teach children about the importance of being a good child. For instance, if a parent wakes up early in the morning, immediately children will learn about waking up early in the morning. But if parents sleep until afternoon, children will get an understanding that sleeping late is not considered as a lazy factor. Therefore, many of the teachings of being a better parent can be taught to children by good practice of good habits and manners at home1. Examples are numerous the most important thing is do what you sermonize to your child. Children learn more by observation than listening, says Dr. Fran Walfish family therapist and consultant to Parents magazine. Both mother and father have to be disciplined in order to be better parents for their children. This is because, children learn many things from parents and in fact they follow their parents. It is important to understand here that children observe their parents in many aspects beginning from food, dressing, conversation, communication and behavior. Therefore, in order to be a better parent, if parents follow good conduct, naturally children will learn good things and will always have a positive approach.
1.Fran Walf: The Self-Aware Parent: Resolving Conflict and Building a Better Bond with Your Child

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This way, by following an idealistic method of living, one can always be a better father or a better mother. Throughout our 8 years as a young children teachers/learning institute administrator(s), we have seen more children imitate their mothers’ behaviours as opposed to just a handful of those following their fathers. We hence, conclude that, the childhood is mostly influenced by mom and in many aspects; children get influenced and inspired by the teachings of mom. Therefore, first, mother should try to be a better parent since she is the most followed and depended upon by children. Finally, if the parents are warm and friendly with each other then with their children, they are always more understood than the parents who are strict with children. Parents must feel responsible that whatever they do or perform, will leave an impact on the lives of the children. For instance, if father/mother carries too much of anger, children also will learn that the habit of getting anger is considered as a positive attitude. But in fact, an angry parent is preparing angry children, which is not a good aspect. Therefore, in order to be a better parent, first of all, parents have to be very much apt in their approach and attitude both at home and with society so that children will get a good understanding about their parents and will begin to follow them. 2. It’s the end to Justify the Means If children aren’t clear about where they want to end up in life, about their goals, values and what they stand for, they will still wander, waste time, and be tossed to and fro by the opinions of others. Parents can help their children create a personal mission that will act as a road map/strategy in his decision-making process (Christophersen, 2003, pg. 680). Parents need to develop a clear expectation of what they want their child(s) to become. Depending on their family setting, parents should plan and communicate their expectation to each other. Creating a list of filtered expectations; largely in favour of both (mom & dad) these may include academic, religious, family oriented, personal appearance or hygiene for different settings and activities will help parents be very specific and concrete in teaching their children (Burke, 1997, pg. 73). An emphasis is placed on the parents to agree on some common values because we believe that if they have not a common stand as parents how else they would showcase their expectation. Some expectations may look fine with mother while the same may be a taboo to a father due to historical or tribal background. All the same, while developing these expectations, parents must take into consideration the child’s age, ability, developmental status, and resources that are available to the family. For example, expecting a four year old child to prepare dinner for the family and then punishing her/him for not meeting the expectations is very unreasonable due to his developmental status and age, as one can see. Ray Burke states, in his book, Common Sense Parenting, that one way to see if one’s expectations are reasonable is to answer these three questions:  Have you (as a parent) taught the expectation to your child?  Can your child clearly understand the expectations given? and  Can your child model and perform what you have expected (Burke, 1997, pg. 74-75). We also believe that these three questions cover the majority of whether ones expectations for their child are realistic or not due to the child’s age and ability. When it’s certain that both parents have set appropriate expectations and rules for their child, the next step is to communicate those expectations clearly to their child in word and indeed. Ironically, in most of our family settings Children are expected to know the right things in a natural way, I believe by imaginations. For example, if a 5 year old child curious to learn how to write, draws some sketches on the kitchen door, most mothers would react by a spark! This is a human being communicate to her/him! Be positive and specific on what you think the child has done wrong. This way, the child shall have a clearer understanding of how he or she should perform in the future when confronted with a similar situation. www.sematanzania.org Page 4 of 9

Yet another way of getting to express clear communicative expectations is to hold family meetings together. The family can set time out of the week to express what expectations are to be held within the family household, as well as going over any concerns or clarifications between both parents and the child. We have at least 5 example Families that have set aside a Sunday as their “Family Day!” Ishika, M. M., our Chief Consultant and a firm believer of family days, says “Doing this will only help improve the child’s behavior, you will discuss with them their academic performance, stress on competition, you will plan their success, set some goals together, etc. It’s not a miracle that my first born, Jeremiah (18) is at the University taking Telecommunication Engineering while his younger brother, Baraka (16) is finishing his High School (Form 6) this year.” 3. First things First. The habit of prioritisng and time management would ensure they focus on and complete the most important things in their lives. Putting first things also means learning to overcome fears and being strong during difficult times. It’s living according to what matters most. Parents must be firm and most of all consistent to achieve some valuable traits in their children. Just as school teachers are in school, it’s clear that being in uniform, tucking inn, combed hair, brushed teeth, ironed clothes, polished shoes among other acceptable schooling traits are achievable because teachers are consistently reminding students about them. Consistency is the “backbone” to discipline (Cutts, 1952, pg. 7). As Cutts states in his book, Better Home Discipline, “You must be consistent in what you ask and forbid and in what you punish…if not, inconsistency between both parents could lead to certain paralysis (Cutts, 1952, pg. 7).” To a child, inconsistency gives double messages; children need to know where they stand in their behaviors (Braga, 1975, pg. 31). Consistency is the key to being a successful parent, showing the child that you are reliable and serious. 4. Think Win-Win Children can learn to foster the belief that it is possible to create an atmosphere of win-win in every situation. Dialogue is key. This habit encourages the idea that in any given discussion or situation both parties can arrive at a mutually beneficial solution. The child will learn to celebrate the accomplishment of others instead of being threatened by them. We are not saying that every decision affecting your child needs to be democratic, but you need to listen to your child, at times. When children are listened to and know their opinion is valued, they will work all the harder when the time comes. Children need to have and feel some degree of freedom to perform their absolute best. When we react, we are often momentarily judging the situation from our own feelings or past experiences. A parent’s reaction sends the child the wrong message. To a child, their feelings and opinions seem to be invalidated by the parent’s reaction. An invalidation of feelings contributes to low self esteem and self worth. It can also trigger a child’s defence mechanism manifesting in rebellion or wariness. When a parent responds to their child they are receptive to the child's feelings and emotions. This is an invaluable parenting skill enhancing the parent/child relationship. The child will feel safe enough to express themselves, with openness and honesty following. Parental acceptance and unconditional love without the fear of parental repercussions will further enhance relationship. A good parenting tip to remember when responding to your child is to ask relevant questions about your child’s feelings. This will enhance conversation allowing the child the opportunity to further discuss their feelings. Raising children with the opportunity to discuss their feelings at will makes for a more positive parenting relationship. As a parent, you will understand life from your child’s viewpoint. Responding will also create an opportunity for discussing potential solutions and plans of action with your child that they may not have done by themselves. Your child will also appreciate that maybe you do indeed understand how they feel. Another parenting skill to develop when actively listening to your child (and anyone else for that matter) is to give your full, undivided attention. Stop what you’re doing - put down your newspaper, turn off the TV, stop folding the www.sematanzania.org Page 5 of 9

laundry and listen fully to your child. Make eye contact. Stop talking and listen. Don’t talk over your child and assume you know what they are going to say. Stay calm and respond appropriately. When the opportunity arrives offer positive parenting potential solutions to the problem. We would also caution parents not to discourage their child from feeling angry, upset or frustrated. As teachers, we wanted our classes to be happy. When they aren’t it is a natural reaction to try to detract them from these feelings, but after years of practice we have learnt the fact that these are genuine feelings that everyone experiences. Your child is no different. It is a natural part of child development to experience these feelings. When raising children it is a valuable parenting skill to teach your child how to handle these feelings in a constructive and positive way. Anger and frustration need to be acknowledged for what they are - genuine feelings. When responding to these feelings, ask questions about why they are feeling the way they are. Listen to your child’s answers objectively. Then offer potential solutions that may alleviate the feeling. In the case of anger, suggest ways to deal with anger in a positive way. Suppressed anger is a major issue that can lead to many emotional problems down the track. Offer examples of when you have had the same feelings. By displaying a positive parenting role model, you will gain respect and trust. Your children are people too, with real feelings and real experiences. Talk to them! When a parent actively listens to their child, the bond between parent and child is strengthened. Actively listening and responding appropriately demonstrates to your child how much you care. They will know you want to help. They will also realise that you are a person with real experiences and real feelings and that you actually have similar experiences of your own that they can draw from. While parenting it is an important parenting skill to respond to your child rather than react. By actively listening to your child you are developing essential parenting skills, creating a more positive parenting experience. You are developing a competitive individual who will be able to articulate issues through logical reasoning. 5. Understand to be Understood. Most parents fight in front of their children; one of the great frustrations in life is to expose your children to spouses arguments. Remember children are struggling to understand both parents (their mother and father), they envisage success through what you do or say. They do not think twice about whether what you say to each other is valid or just out of anger. They believe in you. If you shout at each other calling each other names, your child may grow knowing for instance that my ‘mom is stupid’, and ‘my dad is alcoholic.’ This is very confusing. Do what I say and not what I do is a common phrase that is often repeated; however it only confuses children. Children do not what the parents say rather they do what the parents have replicated into their lives. Children copy the behaviors that parents have presented to them time and time again. Looking at the messages one sends to his or her child is easily seen by analyzing one’s own behaviors. The parents’ main goal is to always set a positive example that the children can model by (Burke, 1997, pg 150). For instance it would be wise for the parents to lock their bedroom door behind while they go on arguing over a situation. Children may never find out about this, hence protected. “One morning a 6 year old child in Standard II was brought in my office having spoken some very ‘abusive language/statements’ in front of her peers. In reality, they (fellow 6 years) did not realise it was offensive rather a senior pupil in Standard VI heard the story as it all happened during a lunch break. The girl had revealed to the rest of her friends that her dad never loved her the way he would because he only made love to her mother and never to her. She said always her mother and father talks about loving… (I love you, I love you, too stuffs while in the dark making love at night). I calmly listened to this honest girl who wanted a share of her dad’s love making. It was clear to me that the child shared a bedroom with her parents. They were not cautious enough to realise she was growing up very fast and was actually eager to hear them talk and make love to each other night after night. She made it a habit to fake her sleep to deceive them into doing it while she watched in the dark! I called both her parents at school and shared with them this shocking truth. They confirmed the mistake and changed her bed settings!”2
2. A true incident that happened 2006 while Mr. Kiiya, JK was the Headmaster at Littlewood Schools in Dar es salaam.

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6. Synergize Synergy is achieved when two or more people work together to create something better than either could alone. Through this habit children learn that it doesn’t have to be “your way” or “my way” but rather a better way, a higher way. Synergy allows children to value differences and better appreciate others. Do not let your all life be for your children; otherwise they will hate being parents when they grow up. Share with them some happy moments and difficulty ones. Let them know that there are ups and downs and that it’s never that smooth always. Let them appreciate the challenges of life at an early age to cement their ground for future storms and tides when they come of age. Do not put a protector shield against every little challenge that they face, especially those consequences of their own reckless conducts. Let them learn the principle; for every action there is a reaction. Use natural and logical consequences to showcase the true World awaiting your child out there. Natural Consequences are outcomes - positive or negative to a person's action. This method has certain advantages over the traditional reward-and-punishment approach. It is a method of discipline that develops responsibility in a child. Natural consequences occur without any interference by the parent – for instance if a child refuses to wear shoes, the natural consequence may be the child cuts their foot on glass, rocks, etc. The parent didn't do anything to make the child hurt their foot. The child's foot was hurt because of the decision made to ignore the parent's advice to wear shoes. Natural consequences can become frustrating to parents because positive results can take longer than alternate methods. It's important for parents to remember the process of learning from mistakes is worth the wait. Logical Consequences – too, are outcomes - positive or negative to a person's action - imposed by the parents when the child behaves in a certain way. They are logically related to the behaviour – an example would be if a child refuses to wear a bike helmet, bike riding privileges may be removed for some time, etc. The biggest challenge facing parents is the type of remedy they would employ when handling practical situation from their own children. Deciding between Natural and Logical Consequences is not the only problem. The traditional disciplinary should never be removed out of the picture completely, depending on individual situational merit, they still hold water. All in all, the goal of natural and logical consequences is so that the child learns from their own mistakes. So, how does a parent know whether to set a logical consequence or allow the natural consequence to teach the lesson? Natural consequences can be very effective when they are immediate. However, the child's best interests and safety need to be taken into consideration. If a child is failing in school, for instance and refuses to put the effort in. A natural consequence of not getting into university would not be in the child's best interests. The child doesn't have the perception to see so far ahead. A logical consequence would be more beneficial. Hitherto, if a teenager refuses to wear a seatbelt when driving. A natural consequence would be neglectful. A more appropriate logical consequence of not being able to drive the car would be more suitable. From the above discussion it is clear that working together (synergy) with your child may help you develop a more appropriate approach towards instilling acceptable moral into his life. Being a parent requires nothing. There are no entrance exams or tests you have to take to be a parent. Anyone can be a parent. That is not to say it is easy, though. To be a good parent there are some parenting skills you really should have. These parenting skills often come natural or are easy enough to learn. They will help you through the process of raising a child. Most parents already have these skills and do not even give it a second thought. Some of the skills are self explanatory while others may not seem so obvious. It’s all up to the parent to get it right. 7. Sharpen the Saw Children should never get too bust living to take time to renew and revitalise themselves. When children “sharpen their saw” they keep their personal self sharp so that they can better deal with life. It means regularly renewing strength of the four key facets of life- brain, body, soul and heart. Recreation is the brain food. Let them make noise, let them be playful, allow them time to just live their child life to the fullest.

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In conclusion, let us share with you some four teacher’s skills that may well be helpful in your parenting for we believe a teacher’s work does look like parenting in most respectable aspects. First a good teacher needs to be patient: Patience is a huge parenting skill. Children are very good at trying your patience and you have to be able to withstand that. You have to be patient with children because they are just learning. They are discovering the world around them and this often leads to hours and hours of them wanting to do what they want to do. They may not understand a lot of things and you have to be patient as they learn to understand. Patience is key to keeping from exploding at your child or losing your cool with them. Another is being a loving teacher: Teaching skills sandwiched with love are very important when parenting. Part of parenting is teaching. You are your child's number one guide to life. They learn everything from you from how to talk to how to treat others. They learn the little things and the big things in life form watching you. You have to be a good teacher to make sure your child grows up to be the person you want them to be. Throughout this paper we have talked about listening: Listening skills are another great part of parenting. There will be many times you will have to listen to your child for various reasons. As infants listening to them and paying attention to them is the only way to understand what they need. As they get older listening to your child will help your develop your relationship and help ensure they are getting what they need form you. Just like a teacher, a parent, too need to be organised. It may not seem like a big deal, but as soon as you have a child you will discover that you have to be organised. Children run on schedules, especially when they are first born. Having and sticking to a schedule is essential to make the baby feel secure. You will find the more organised you are the less stressful parenting is and the more time you actually have to enjoy your child. Without schools timetables teaching and learning would be impossible. We believe a little organisation at family level would not be harmful. Another role a parent need to copy from teachers is being a detective. Detective skills may seem odd to be on the list of parenting skills, but any (teacher) parent will tell you that it is important. There are going to be many times you will have to search for clues to find out what is going on with your child. You will have to be smart and cunning sometimes to get to the bottom of things. As your child gets older being a detective may be the only way to stay on top of their life and know what is going on with them. Please do not overdo this as it may be very bad if a child would react with; ‘Dad or Mum… Have you been spying on me?’ Some first aid skills too are needed. Doctoring & psycho-social skills are a large part of parenting. You have to be able to diagnosis what is wrong with them. They will come running to you whenever they feel bad and expect you to make them feel better. You will have to know when to treat them yourself and when to seek a doctor’s help. You will have to be able to doctor small wounds and bruises. You will have to treat colds and flu or even more complicated signs. These are only a handful of the parenting skills you will need. A parent is a sort of huge sieve of all trades you have to not only raise them and love them, but also handle every other aspect of their life. Your child will look to you for everything and you need the right skills in order to help them and raise them. Parenting skills are often learned in time as you are raising your child. Most people do not know anything when they have a child, but learn as they go. You will pick-up all the skills you need as you start to begin on the journey of parenthood. Parenting skills will come naturally and by experimental. Be ready and always eager to make a better parent.

Below this paper there is an annexed poem that we would love you to run your eyes through.

This Paper has been prepared by Jarn Jose, Ishika Mshaghuley & Kiiya, JK; Child Protection Programme, C-Sema Group, Dar es salaam.

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THIS IS A POEM ORIGINALLY DONE BY A GREEN HILL ACADEMY STUDENT, ADOPTED FOR YOU, KARIBU.

Parents, children are a photocopy of their parents’ character You are the hydro power dams from which they Can tap the power of living light. But if the dams are empty of values, and the water levels are too low, What will they tap? Only darkness. Many parents are suffering from ‘Too Busy!’ Yes, the cost of living is high, but the cost of loving is affordable. There’s God to help you. Each child is a goldmine and it’s the parents to mine the gold out of them Sarcastically, there are parents who see their children as a form of tax; Tax on their time, tax on their comfort and tax on their freedom And immediately send them to boarding school even in Nursery, So as to evade these taxes. Remember, children are like the Global Fund, a gift and a donor fund from God, You will have to provide full accountability for their use or mismanagement, You shall be audited. The home is the first classroom in which a child sits. But unfortunately, the teachers that is, the parents, have absconded from duty And if you ask them, they will tell you, To them, Laptop is their daddy, they see him every day The Telephone is their mummy; she talks to them whenever they want Parents, these are your children and, have boarded the wrong taxis, to the Northern bypass of destruction Physically, they maybe in University, but mentally, they are in kindergarten With their minds still wrapped up in nappies. Don’t just be the head of the home but head the home Forget not, PARENT means; P – Personal Friend, A – Available, R – Responsible, E - Encourages N – Nurtures and T – Teaches Now is the time for IDPs (Internally Displaced Parents) to return home, So that the reconstruction of the family can begin. There are parents who are living in camps of bondage called bars; Extramarital affairs, cross generational rapports….. They need to come home for the family is under attack Homes used to be likeable place, for Making Life Better, But now, they have become like Battle Fields, daily explosions of verbal artillery, All this detonated by marital conflicts! You the parents, have become suicide bombers, blowing up our future When we see daddy approaching, ‘black mamba is about to strike’ We take cover as he comes heavily armed with words of mass destruction. Other parents are like electrical-shocks, they load shed their time for their children, Even up to one week and the kids end up in a black out of values. The lucky ones survive if they have friends, who act as power generators, providing insufficient power The parliament and cabinet are the brain of the government But the family is the foot of the nation. When it fails to stand, the nation falls Parents, have time for your children. Say, ‘NEVER AGAIN’

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