The Act of Skin Discrimination in Children

It is a well-known fact that children do not learn how to discriminate or do they identify with skin colour discrimination. Mostly, children under the age of five doing discriminate based on the colour of the skin. Specifically, children under the age of three years, do not know what colour discrimination is because they do not see the skin colour difference. It can be augured that this is based on a child growing up in a mixed and diverse environment of skin colour. This argument can also be built on a child who has not been groomed or reared to identify skin colour from a very young age.

How do children learn or pick up skin colour discrimination? Having worked with diverse children and families over the years, I can suggest that children learn skin discrimination consciously (directly) or unconsciously (indirectly) from their parents or selected career.

renny adejuwon|children mindChildren learn skin discrimination consciously from their parents/carers through:

  • Words: e.g. ‘why are you playing with that black child?’ ‘Do not play with that child, you are different and do not look like them.’
  • Actions: e.g. not inviting the brown skin children to birthday parties or not going to the white skin children birthday parties.

Children learn skin discrimination unconsciously from their parents/carers through:
Listening to adult conversations; e.g., ‘I do not want to send my child to that school because they have a majority of black children.’ ‘I don’t know why the school is taking in more ethnic minority children. They have come to take over.’ Watching how their parents react to adult with different ethnic background: e.g. excluding them from school events, ignoring them in a group conversation, wanting to shut them up or down during conversations, indicating their contribution is not important or relevant.

A conversation took place between a mother and her 10-year-old son:

SON: my friend told me I was treated badly by my teacher.
MUM: what do you mean?
SON: my friend say’s my teacher was racist towards me because he chooses only the Caucasian children to play for the football team.
MOTHER: that does not mean he is racist. Have you been chosen to play for the school football team before?
SON: Yes
MOTHER: so your teacher is giving other children the opportunity to play for the school team. Of cause, some people will treat you differently, brown skin or Caucasian, but be aware that people are either good or bad not the colour of their skin.
SON: my class teacher is white, and she treats me nice and is fair.
MOTHER: you see, it is the person that matters not the colour of the skin. There are brown skin people, who also badly treat other people.

The conversation above could have been so different between the mother and her son. The mother had the opportunity to teach an entirely different seed of thought into her son, but instead, she gave a balanced approach to human behaviour rather than the colour of the human skin.

skin discriminationIn the movie 42, there was a scene where one of the characters, Pee Wee Reese, thanked the main character, Jackie Robinson, for helping get over his bias of skin colour discrimination. This scene took place in one of the many baseball stadiums used in the movie. However, on this occasion, a boy was sitting in the crowd with his daddy. When the dad and the crowd started chanting racist words towards the main character, who is the only brown skin player of the baseball team, the boy just copied his father. The character Pee Wee went on to hug Jackie Robinson and shook his hands. This action stopped some of the crowd from shouting out racist words. In particular, the boy’s face changed like he was thinking about his actions and why he copied his dad in the first instance.

This sense happens consciously or unconsciously in everyday life between parents and their children. If it is not challenged, it tends to grow and develop, and the seed of skin discriminations continues from one generation to the next. It still baffles me how a person can just be judged based on the colour of their skin; I do not get it. Watch your behaviour and your mouth around your children, as the saying goes, action speaks louder than words.

END NOTE: skin discrimination crosses ethnic, cultural or country boundaries.

Is Home Schooling an Option?

It has been said that home schooling gives parents more control over the influences that affect their children. With home schooling, a parent alone can decide what the child needs to do or learn. Tailoring the teaching program to suit the lifestyle, needs and interests of the child are among the most obvious options for home schooling. A child that is home schooled has the benefit of focusing more hours to the subject that may be difficult without additional pressure. Learning time is spread out based on the needs, abilities and interests of the child. The child receives more quality time in a familiar and homely environment, free from peer pressure and making choices and decisions based on needs.

Competition is great for children, but when it comes to home schooling, this is limited or does not occur. This is also the case of interaction with peer groups. When it comes to teaching style, home schooling is very one way centred. Teaching is always focused on how children learn best, which can be great. However, it reduces the child’s ability to process information in different ways that the child is not used to. A child that learns through moving objects or kinesthetic may find it challenging processing information that may include discussion or social activity.

home schooling| rent adejuwonWhen children are home schooled it allows parents the control over the moral, beliefs and ideologies instilled in their child. From a parent’s standpoint, this ensures there is no confusion in the child’s mind and no variation between what is being taught and what is being practised.

Schools are an excellent environment for children to develop different views, interact and learn something different outside their circle. However, parents that opt for home schooling are disillusioned with the system. They believe that children are being pushed too hard or too little. However, when children are in an excellent school system, they are welcome to try different experiences, activities, discipline and ethics.

There are pros and cons of homeschooling your child. Is it an option? Yes, it is if you have the time, lifestyle, finances, ability and interest to follow through with the education. After all, nobody can understand or appreciate your child as much as you.

WHAT IS GOOD BEHAVIOUR IN CHILDREN?

So much has been written about children’s behaviour or the managing of behaviour in children. Behaviour is an action, reaction, display of character or response. Good behaviour, however, is what is acceptable to the adult caring for a child at any particular time. What is good behaviour, when it comes to children? Is it when children follow the instruction given to them without any fuss or complain to the adult; Or when they are being rewarded for participating in something positive. In most cases, ‘do as you are told’, shows you are of good behaviour.

A child being described as showing good behaviour is the perception of the adult the child is trying to please. Children who are abused or groomed sexually, have been told by their abuser that when they are ‘good’ or ‘behave’ they will be rewarded positively. This scenario shows that the good behaviour of the child is based on what the adult demands from him or her. Does this mean it is right? Of cause not but in the eye of the child, this behaviour is rewarded positively. That means it must be good and acceptable. Some children are overly nice and helpful, which has gotten them into more inconvenience. A case comes to mind of a child who helped another child during an exam. The helpful child had finished her exam paper but noticed that the child sitting next to her was finding it difficult, so decided to help. Other children have been nasty in fighting off a bully, which at the time was seen as appropriate behaviour for defending themselves.

right or easy thing/renny adejuwon/rennyadejuwon.comWhat am I saying? The onus of a child showing good behaviour falls entirely on the adult. In simple term, adults are responsible for developing effective behaviour in children. A child cannot just develop good behaviour overnight, or throughout their developmental years without any definitive guide or input from the adult. Rather, s/he responds to the adult who is responsible for caring and developing him/her. Whatever the adult pours into the child is what the child bears. When a toddler swears, the adult caring for the toddler is responsible for that pattern of behaviour based on what he/she is exposed to.

Do personality and genetics plays a part in the behaviour of children? Maybe. Some parents have said ‘my child is naturally good and well behaved’ while others have said ‘out of all my four children, my third child is the most difficult.’ It can be debated that the birth position of the child, the socioeconomic level of the family, the time frame of when the child was born and many other factors affected the behaviour of the child. The debate can go on. The majority of the time, one thing is for certain. The behaviour of the child, whether good or bad, rests solely on the adult. According to Emilie Buchwald, “Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.”

Dyslexia, What A Load of……

I remember at the age of 5 or 6 my dad asked me to spell ‘Cat’ and I found it quite difficult. I sounded it out phonetically but still found it hard to spell. He tugged my ear, and said, “listen to the sound”. It took him writing the word for me to actually spell ‘Cat’. I remember being told in university I was lazy in writing and spelling, and needed to use my dictionary more. I should listen more and teach myself how to read and write again. I later realised I enjoyed reading from back to front, I found it difficult identifying my left side from right and had to reminded myself by feeling a scar on my left palm before I knew left from right. This was my coping mechanism. Not too long ago someone identified I am creative with visualising things, which I did not notice.

helping with dyslexia|renny adejuwon

Due to the lack of understanding dyslexia, many children and teenagers still have stories like this. The debate by educationalist and theorist is endless (Read), one side suggest there is nothing like dyslexia while others suggest it exist. Institutions label children of having learning difficulties and not identifying their dyslexia. In educational learning and working with children there are three major different learning styles, visual, kinesthetic and auditory. Why hasn’t this been applied to dyslexia? Identifying that some children are creative and maybe have different way of reading and spelling.

While studying Applied Child Psychology one of the modules was on phonetics and how children learn to spell. One fundamental lesson was based on how some children spell phonetically while others learn by memorizing the words. This should be considered and applied into classes by teachers identifying children that learn phonetically or by memorizing words. Children should not be labeled wrongly for having dyslexia but rather teaching should be creative in the class room to help children reach their full potential. Children with dyslexia can be helped from a young age to become competent readers and writers but first the the right support needs to be provided. 

37 Common Characteristics of Dyslexia and The British Dyslexia Association can be of help.

Repetition, Redirection and Reaffirmation with Children

Being a while since my last blog but have been busy with the children being on summer holidays. First job of a mother is being a parent and everything else had to be on hold during the summer break but glad to be back.

I have had this topic for some time and I realised it is quite an important parenting technique  when passing across information and action point to children. Repetition, Redirection,and Reaffirmation is needed when interacting with children or trying to pass on information for them to carry out.  As we know, children are easily distracted from instructions given to them and this does not exclude my children. On several occasions, both professionally and personally, I have given instructions to children to carry out  particular task and it came as no surprise that they were easily distracted due to other interesting things happening around them.  An example is asking your child to tidy up a particular space, if for some reason there are other interesting activities going on around him/her, it should come as no surprise that there will be distractions or the child forgetting about the task at hand.

It can be quite frustrating, on the part of the parent, to keep repeating him/herself but due to the nature of children repetition is a skill that is required when dealing with children. Am I saying all children are easily distracted and will need repetition or reminder of the task at hand, no this is not the case. All children are different and while some carry out a task by one given instruction, others will have the same task repeated to them over and over again before the task is carried out.

Having looked at repetition, what has redirection and reaffirmation got to do with children. Sometimes, repeating an instruction for a child, to carry out a task, might not be enough. It may have to involve the adult redirecting the child to the task. This may involve guiding the child physically and taking them back to the task at hand. As with the example of the tidy up if the child left the tidy up space, the adult may have to take the child’s hand and guide him/her back to the task at hand. This saves parent, especially, from shouting, raising their voice or becoming frustrated with repeating themselves.

Reaffirmation with children is telling them what a wonderful work or task they have done. You has a parent are telling them well done for performing the task, finishing it and that you acknowledge their contribution. Reaffirming children’s work can involve a child going to an adult and reminding him/her about a task completed successfully. The adult, at that point in time, needs to show the child that his/her input in the task was recognised and acknowledge this by either letting the child relive that experience through talking about it or praising the child again for his/her contributions. Sometimes reaffirmation can be used to indicate to your child that parents/carers acknowledge their good effort in their academics, sport and other positive activities that they are involved in.