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Communication is key to knowing child

Written by Allison Cooper

As children are the main victims of violence in South Africa, Vuk’uzenzele asked Childline South Africa for some tips to get to know your child better.

It is not easy to raise a child, but a little help from experts goes a long way to ensuring that you do the best that you can.

According to Childline South Africa, a non-profit organisation that protects children from all forms of violence and creates a culture of children's rights in South Africa, parents must communicate positively with children.

Do not shout at them; talk to them with respect; give them choices; involve them in the decision-making process; teach them right from wrong; and encourage them to express their feelings.

You can do this by holding regular family meetings, where everyone talks and listens. Talking is the best way to teach children and you can encourage good behaviour by simply explaining things to them. Childline advises parents to listen intently and to be patient, as children may not know how to say what they think or feel.

Children need to know what is and isnít acceptable

Make sure they know why rules are needed and that there will be consequences if the rules are broken. Always be consistent and enforce these consequences. As children get older, encourage them to discuss these rules and let them help determine consequences.

Always praise children for good behaviour

By telling them how much you like the good things they do, bad behaviour may disappear. In addition, rewards work better than punishment. Whilst many parents reward children with toys or sweets, the best rewards are hugs, smiles and showing an interest in them.

Building self esteem

It’s vital that you help your children to build their self-esteem. You can help them by praising them for trying to help and using their imagination, intelligence and playfulness; encouraging them to talk; making them feel special and telling them that they are special; and being trustworthy, so that they can count on you.

Harmful behaviour unacceptable

It is never acceptable to harm children. Harmful behaviour includes screaming, swearing, threatening and belittling them. Swearing in front of or at children may make them feel insecure and threatened.

Difficult or ‘special’ children may have a particular problem, such as Attention Deficit Disorder or Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder which may require them to follow a specific diet and need assistance with medication.   

If a parent or caretaker does not know how to manage their childís behaviour or special needs, they can call Childline on 08 000 55 555 and speak to a counsellor for advice.