Over the last few years our parenting skills have significantly changed from the way we were raised. This is because we have an overload of information resources which can be easily accessed through the internet, workshops, clubs, groups and so on. Because of the internet we have an endless sea of self made gurus who seem to know all and are willing to impart information freely or at whatever price we can afford to pay.
While it is good to instil good self esteem patterns, it is also important to maintain discipline. Effective communication lines should be open at all times and one must know when to use the best method. You cannot always have time to reach to your child’s level or even talk to them. Even when you are busy they should know that you have their attention.
As an African, I remember growing up that most if not all mothers had serious eye communication skills for every situation. Having several children in an extended family set-up, mothers did not have time to give full attention to every child yet they were expected to raise well behaved children. A child’s behaviour is a reflection of the mother’s character, so one had to be ingenious in any circumstance and come up with effective ways of dealing with their children.
It did not matter if the mother was standing across the room or street, sitting with the child or away from the child, if she was busy with something, occasional she would take a quick peek at what the children were doing, it seemed their eyes were everywhere. Though not perfect methods, the different eye communication was very effective and I happy to use some of the ways I learned from my mother.
Don’t let me come there
Just means stop what you doing, because if I come there, there will be hell to pay
Don’t you dare
Is when she somehow can tell what you are about to do and her look will tell you not to even think about it. As a child I remember always wondering how she knew what I was going to do next.
This is not over
She realises you have done something and just maintains her cool but not before telling you that she has reserved a lecture for later.
We have spoken about this
After so many warnings you still not listening. It’s like “how could you do that again?” “We are going to have another talk about this because I do not think you heard me correctly the first time and we are going to have to escalate this, if you not listening” No child wants to go there for sure.
Time out stare
A child will just go into their own time out, when a child has gone past the limits and the mother says you need to leave my presence before I lose my cool. Even when others call you to play, you dare not get up
Is the look that tells you to stop whatever you are doing or you will die. This was usually applied when a child is pushing the limits in front of guests. One look and you just get on your best behaviour.
Is when she gives you the go ahead to do something. In the case another adult asked you to do something that was against mother’s rules, confused yet you want to be polite. To calm the situation, mother will give her approval and then you will know what to do. It can be equally used in the opposite when another child invites you do something she doesn’t approve of.
I understand you
Growing up in an extended family, sometimes the mother cannot voice her concerns over the way other adults behave or say to you, mother’s eyes will tell you that she understands and is on your side. She will wait for a moment when you can be alone to explain why she could not speak out to whoever because of the circumstances and how best you can deal with the situation.
I am proud of you
When you have chosen to swallow your pride and do the right thing on the playground. She can tell you are hurting but have chosen to be the bigger person. Not wanting to interfere her eyes will tell you that you have done well and that she is proud of the way you handled the situation. This is good for any child’s self-esteem.
Often times I have tried to use the guru methods but can’t help but slide back into the old ways methods which are more effective. My children know exactly what I mean through my eye communication.
The best way I have learnt, is to take the basics and spice them up with new age methods. Doing things in moderation also helps, you can’t over use one method because these little people are clever and will come up with ways to counter your methods. Communications lines should be open with or without physical body contact.