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Good Parenting Practices for Child Growth and Development.

The guidelines provide a basis on which the parents, guardians and caregivers shall ensure that children of all ages learn and imitate positive values, norms and practices for child growth and development. Every parent, guardian and caregiver should ensure the following;

1.      Expressing Love

Parents should love their children unconditionally, let the children know that they are loved. No conditions shall be attached to parental love. Expression of affection shall not be based on who and what they are. An environment shall be created where the child has a sense of belonging, trust and security. All the needs of the children shall be provided according to the available family resources.

Parents should provide physical affection on a regular basis in form of hugging, pat them on the shoulder and warm handshake with the child. These are powerful gestures that strengthen the love and friendship between the parent and child. Some examples of expressing love to children shall include:

  • Compliments and affirmations such as “I love you my daughter / son”.  
  • Balance the expression of affection with a need to discipline a child. 
  • Avoid verbal and physical affection immediately after the child has behaved contrary to parent’s expectations.
  • Re-assure the parent’s unconditional love without compromising the responsibility to correct and guide the child.

2.Spending Quality Time with Children

Spending time with the child helps to cement the connection and sense of being loved and valued. Parents shall therefore have time with the children for them to experience and feel the parental love. Parents shall make it a habit to have family meals and quality time together. Some ways of realizing this shall be: undertaking common family activities and leisure time together such as playing music and playing a popular games, story-telling, taking a walks, holding on general guided discussions on topics of interest with the child or children.

Other ways of spending time with the child shall include;

  • Being available when the children express a desire to talk or share a moment with the parent(s)
  • Attending concerts; games; school visits and meetings; family, religious and cultural meetings and other events
  • Doing homework and reading with the child, and getting to know more about his or her friends
  • Provide special time with teenagers because of the unique needs of this age group. This offers opportunities for in-depth sharing of experiences and building the child’s strong belief in the parent.

3.Effective Communication

Parents shall promote open, honest and consistent communication to benefit the children and the entire family.

Communicating with the child should be based on logic and reasoning for example; talking and listening to the child, respecting the child’s point of view, providing the necessary explanations just as one would do to peers, giving relevant responses and full attention and considering carefully what the child says.  It is also important to monitor non-verbal communication which includes the gestures of all sorts, controlling voice tones, being polite and making sure that the child believes that he/she is being listened to and heard. 

4.Building Children’s Self-Esteem and Confidence

Children need an enabling environment to feel confident.  Treat children as individuals and recognize each child’s individual strengths, talents and weaknesses.  Avoid comparing a child unfavorably with another. Treat every child with love, care and dignity.

Discuss with the children family situations so that they appreciate it. Encourage child participation in the welfare of the family including budgeting and planning. Allow children to do some work commensurate with their age and dignity but avoid hazardous work. Teach the child to manage peer pressure, anger, balance emotions and make good decisions as they grow.

5.Instilling Cultural and Religious Values

Children need cultural and religious values for identity, moral and spiritual development.  Teach, instill and inspire children to appreciate their cultural values and build their relationship with God.   Teach children to respect elders, leaders, people of responsibility in the community and any person older than them. Parents pray together with the children and allow them to lead in prayer or reading the Bible or Quran, family gatherings and events, cultural ceremonies for socialization.

Parents should promote pro-family values such as love and respect, sense of acceptance and belonging, trust, integrity and honesty, effective communication, hard work, faithfulness, equality and equity, harmony and discipline, caring and God fearing, respect for diversity, hospitality as well as concern for others especially the disadvantaged in the community.

6.Living by Example

Children learn better from their parents through observation and imitation.   Parents should be role models for their children. Parents should demonstrate to children how to be productive and responsible citizens by:

  • Being respectful, loving, caring, and faithful to family members in all ways of life
  • Avoiding domestic violence, emotional abuse, and excessive drinking and drug abuse as well as other negative habits
  • Resolve conflicts amicably without raising the voice, celebrate together the achievements and solve challenges facing the family through discussion and dialogue
  • Sharing the burden of care especially for the most vulnerable in the home setting.

7.Providing for the Child’s Needs

Holistic growth and development of a child requires a range of physical, economic, social, psychological and spiritual needs. Parents should provide proper shelter, clothing, food and nutrition, education, health, water, hygiene and sanitation.

8.Responding to Children’ Sexuality

Many Ugandan cultures prohibit parents to talk openly about sex and sexuality with their children. Parents should endeavor to be the first source of information for their children on issues of growth, its challenges and benefits.

  • Parents should allow the children to enjoy their childhood innocence in playing, learning, being well fed, interacting with parents
  • Parents should provide reliable, timely, and accurate and age appropriate information on personal hygiene, sex and sexuality
  • Be readily available and accessible to the child when in need
  • Be up-to-date with information to respond to questions from the child
  • Have open discussions with the child on issues of adulthood such as hygiene, risks faced and opportunities of keeping themselves safe
  • Ensure that you provide the necessary requirements so that they finish their education first to get professions and skills

9.Raising hardworking and Ethical Citizens

For holistic development of a child, there is need to promote both the rights and responsibilities. Children should be encouraged to appreciate hard work and ethical values by:

  • Involving children in age appropriate work, assigning them with leadership roles and engaging them in problem-solving activities
  • Preparing them to manage peer pressure and making good decisions as they grow into adulthood
  •  Teaching children to appreciate all types of work without discrimination and the importance of work as a family
  • Encouraging them to support the extended family members to avoid individualism for the unity and development of the family, community and the Country.

10.Inculcating the value of Wealth Creation and Saving

Children should be taught the culture of making and managing their own and family resources. Parents should involve the children in family resource making, saving, handling and resolving family financial concerns. Children should participate in the family estates management.

11.Disciplining Children

Parents have a duty to promote acceptable behavior and discourage unwanted behavior.  Parents should set standards for the child to know and understand the expectations of parents, family and the community. Age appropriate standards should be enforced consistently and should be clear. Disciplining should be done by both parents to minimize divergent opinions regarding disciplinary measures by:

  • Identifying good behaviors and nurturing them to harness behavioral change
  • Complementing the child on a regular basis and seizing an opportunity to appreciate the child when something good is done.
  • Rewarding the child when they perform according to the best of their ability through hugs, words of praise and token gifts and celebrations.
  • Providing avenues for discussion rather than punishment.
  • Avoiding criticism and fault finding
  • Ensuring that environment for disciplining is private for both the parent (s) and the child unless if it is absolutely necessary
  • Providing timely discipline but avoid disciplining the child while still upset to steer clear of probable harsh measures
  • Avoiding nagging the child about their old behaviors and circumstances but focus on problem-solving of the issue at hand.

12.Raising children with Special Needs

Children with special social, emotional and physical needs require extra attention to enable them grow into responsible members of society. The self-esteem of children with special needs are often compromised by words and actions which lead to stigma and withdrawal. Parents, guardians and caregivers should:

13.Monitor and Keep in Close touch with the Child

Parents should get involved in their children’s lives and activities at all developmental stages. Parents should provide ample time every day of play with a child to enhance their self-esteem and academic achievement. 

Parents should keep the child safe at all times, provide emotional and physical safety, and get to know the child’s friends. They should get to know their children’s influencers, peers and control as well as appreciate the environment in which their children grow.

14.Promote the Right To Play

Playing enhances creativity, personality, talent, social relationship and problem solving skills. Parents should provide opportunities for appropriate games, sports and plays to facilitate emotional, intellectual, social, physical growth and development of the child.