Parents are children’s first teachers and they play a key role in shaping their children’s character.
This is according to Bophelong Psychiatric Hospital’s Clinical Psychologist Boitumelo Moses.
Moses spoke about the important role that parents should play in holistically supporting children of school-going age.
“Parental encouragement plays a crucial role in producing successful students. It is also important to realise that their role is not limited to the home but should include involvement in school activities too,” she explained.
“A child’s learning scale is highly related to how they are treated at home,” she added.
In recent years, a number of learners and university students have committed suicide.
Giving tips on how parents can provide emotional and psychological support to children who may be struggling to cope with depression and other mental illnesses, Moses said the first thing is to not expect children to be perfect.
“Everyone makes mistakes. No one is 100 percent perfect in every aspect of life. Be proud of any achievements that your child makes, no matter how small. Don’t be too hard on children when they make mistakes. Always keep communication channels open. Be supportive and understanding of their needs,” she said.
She added that one of the most important ways to provide emotional and psychological support to your child is to be present.
Parents often have very busy schedules and have little time to spend with their children, which is why family time should be optimally used, she said.
“Ask how your child’s day was; what made them happy; what made them sad; ask about their friends; what subjects they do or don’t enjoy and why,” she said.
Moses encouraged parents to listen to what their child say to them and to pay attention to their mood swings. They should respond lovingly and with empathy to any problems that the child might be having.
“If your child is experiencing emotional or psychological problems, look for professional help. There is no shame in asking for help,” she said.
Moses added that there are a number of domestic factors that may contribute to a child’s poor performance at school. These include:
- unstable structure in the household
- poor relationships between members of the family
- divorce, and
- harsh discipline, among others.
Moses said parents can show support academically by assisting their children with homework if needed, checking if they have done their homework or assignments and paying attention to whatever difficulties a child might be having when they study.
Parents are also encouraged to attend parent/teacher meetings because the challenges a child is facing are discussed and solutions sought.
Moses said parents should also encourage learners to make time for reading.
Key financial responsibilities
According to Moses, some of the top financial responsibilities that parents have towards their children include paying school fees, ensuring that children have safe transportation to and from school and buying stationery, clothes and food for them.
Ultimately, Moses advised parents to be patient with their children and with themselves.
“Find something that works for you as a parent and for your child as an individual. And lastly, love your children unconditionally,” she said.
The Department of Basic Education (DBE) said effectively engaging parents and families in the education of their children has a positive influence on the success of learners. Currently, the level of parent and community participation in schools is low, said the DBE.
Parents seeking advice may contact the department’s call centre 0800 202 933 or email firstname.lastname@example.org