Child’s Rights and Discipline: The UNCOMMON Theory (26)

Opening Charge

A lot times when we are dealing with children, we believe that children cannot be smarter than us. They must not also be seen to be smarter than us. So when we approach the matters, which have to do with children, we erected stoutly our sceptre of ego and insist on our assertions and opinion of situations, without any proof. Our only proof and justification is that we are older and should be wiser. After all, a child knows nothing…’

Hello fellow custodians, last week was an unusual week when things did not go as planned. I suffered in the hands of nature, despite my many boast in the past that I know how to take control. Last week was one of such weeks when I had to feed on my words and I was full. I wasn’t here twice. Can you imagine that? Friends, I am back. I pray I come as regularly as I promise. Thank you for your understanding and bearing with the feelings of my human infirmities. Please join me today as I share with you the 21st core habit of a purposeful, disciplined and effective disciplinarian: Believe the child when there are no contrary facts:

This is a very touchy topic in this part of the world, where majority of us believe that childhood is synonymous with pranks, deception and mischief. Custodians just believe that what they believe about a situation, when it involves or concerns a child must be right even when they do not have any facts or evidence to validate same. It is sad that custodians insist on their assertions without any iota of proof. It is sadder that custodians would not listen to the child’s side of the story or believe same.

A lot times when we are dealing with children, we believe that children cannot be smarter than us. They must not also be seen to be smarter than us. So when we approach the matters, which have to do with children, we erected stoutly our sceptre of ego and insist on our assertions and opinion of situations, without any proof. Our only proof and justification is that we are older and should be wiser. After all, a child knows nothing.

The unwritten rule seems to be that once a matter involves a child, custodians must act on their suspicion instead of an establish truth. Once the custodian is clueless, he/she does not investigate, he/she takes a decision to disbelieve the child and goes ahead to do so.  I must say that there is no faster way to destroy a child than to insist on or judge a child by a fact we cannot prove to ourselves or the child. What if the child is not presenting the facts? Yes, the principle here is not whether the child is saying the truth or not. The principle is that we have no proof that the child is not saying the truth. Once we don’t have contrary facts, we must believe the child. It is risky to hold the child responsible when we have no facts. What if the child is saying the truth, he/she would have been unjustly treated and the impact is indelible. What we are saying is that truth has no meaning and innocence is not cherished enough to require investigation. We are also saying that innocence is not strong enough a status to guarantee an escape from chastisement.

What if the child is not saying the truth? It is a matter for his conscience to handle. In fact such cases are a training process for the child’s conscience. We must understand that the child’s conscience will always be with him/her wherever he/she goes but the custodians will not always be. The conscience and the custodians play different roles. The tragedy of meting out disciplinary measures without proof is that it destroys the child’s conscience. My wife once told me a story, which is very instructive in this area. As a child my wife had done something wrong and she was reported to her father. The father called her and asked if she did what she had been reported to have done? Though she did it but she decided to lie. The father probed for a while and she insisted she was saying the truth. In the absence of contrary facts, the father said to her, ‘I believe you. I believe you would not lie to daddy. Please go in peace.’ She left the presence of her father broken. Her conscience was touched. Though, she did not go back to the father to confess, she made up her mind never to lie to her father or do anything to hurt a believer, her father. One single event led to transformation of behaviour.

What happens if you find a contrary fact after, you have believed the child? I think it should be a closed case, depending on the enormity of the issue at hand. Whichever way, I believe, we should find another way to communicate the lessons to the child, without necessarily referring to the matter that has already been concluded.

Another trick, which custodians play, is to convince the child to say the truth on the promise that the facts will not be used against them. When the child falls for the bait, the custodians descend on them. I was a victim of that when growing up. My father once told us that we should tell the truth and that our saying the truth would make him tamper justice with mercy. I only fell for that once or twice. It amounts to breach of trust to play on the intelligence of a child. When we succeed in playing on the child’s intelligence, we have play on many other things we may not even be aware of.  As custodians, we cannot stand children playing on our intelligence; we must also make it a point of duty not to play on children’s intelligence. It is even safer for children to play on our intelligence than for us to play on their intelligence.

My charge today is that we must believe the child once we do not have contrary facts, evidence or proof. Do have an INSPIRED day.

Think the child…Think Today…Think Tomorrow…

POINT 2 PONDER:

‘What if the child is not saying the truth? It is a matter for his conscience to handle. In fact such cases are a training process for the child’s conscience.

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