In a country where many of our senior leaders flout the law every day, it is difficult to teach children to be law-abiding and to perform their civic duty. Many parents are absent from their children’s lives, either because one parent is really absent or because one or both parents outsource the parenting to others; grandparents, au pairs or other family members, to work full time. This means that schools are increasingly becoming the sole educators of good citizenship.
We regularly discuss the attributes of good citizenship in assemblies and newsletters, predominantly to encourage parents to teach their children how to negotiate an often negative world. Here are a few tips to use at home:
· Have a conversation with your children about when it is a good time to ‘tell tales’. Re-enforce for them that they are not ‘squealing’ – they have the right to be ‘righteously indignant’ if other children offend them by the way they behave, by the words they use, etc. Discuss the kind of things that are wiser for adults to know about – that by ‘looking the other way’ they can be hurt or implicated in the act. If all children played ‘policeman’, many others would be protected from so much.
· Have a discussion with your children about the need to be honest with their peers and with the adults who care for them. Often when dealing with issues in which children put themselves at risk, schools find that the children’s friends knew what was going on but didn’t tell anybody. Sometimes this can result in serious consequences, like death.
· Protect your children from the ‘laissez-faire’ attitude within society today as you don’t want your family to be affected by the culture of not caring. Insist
- on sending a note and phoning if your child is ill;
- that your child be involved in the extramural programme and remains committed for the term;
- that your child leaves home in the full, correct school uniform,
- that work done at home, is neatly presented and written;
- that all loose papers are filed in the correct place;
- that all books are covered and treated ‘gently’.
· The newspapers are filled with articles about parents and children “at war” with opposing teams in school sports’ matches. Continue
to insist on good sportsmanship behaviour like:
- enjoying the game and not winning at all costs;
- having a good attitude, not retaliating
when other teams swear or get physical;
- applauding all goals, whether your own or
the opposing team’s;
team at the end;
- playing the game wholeheartedly, right
until the end.
· When driving in traffic, remember that your attitude to other drivers and your adherence to traffic rules is continually watched by your children. Set an example of good citizenry by:
- obeying traffic signs and speeds;
- wearing your seat belts every time you drive;
- stop at stop streets and in time at red traffic lights;
- never park on pedestrian crossings or in restricted areas.
· Beware of what your children are watching or seeing. Obviously
things are far more explicit
- the programmes, shows and movies your
children watch on television;
- the sites your children visit on their cellphones, tablets and computers, and whatthe sites are, as some innocuous sounding
ones show the most terrible things;
- that your “Parental Guidance” is still active on your computer with the necessary passwords to prevent children from accessing unsuitable sites.
If all partners in the schooling system play their parts in moulding children, despite the reality of the world we live in, then our children are going to be positive role models in society themselves, and hopefully, they will continue the process with their children in the future. The world we live in is too important for us to give up on …. join the good-citizen crusade!