Osezusi Bolodeoku, a certified Special Educational Needs expert and Advanced Certified Autism Specialist, in a conversation with Pulse.ng. educates parents about the proper way to discipline and train children.
Zusi, who is happily married with three children, including twins, began her foray into the world of children’s special education needs after witnessing first-hand, the culture of silence that proves detrimental to such children.
Below is how the conversation about raising and disciplining children went.
Why do children act out?
When children are badly behaved or act out, they do it for four reasons: attention, escape, access to tangible things like money and sensory satisfaction. You need to get to the root of it and find out what they need.
What are some of the mental challenges and issues children face?
Anxiety and depression, I see that a lot. Society puts a lot of pressure on children and makes them seek approval and acceptance. Pressure from social media, society, school, and friends can lead to identity crisis. Kids need to have a sense of identity.
When it comes to mental health disorders. The most common are OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) which is usually repeated thoughts and behaviour that can be so obtrusive and make them feel less normal. It is common among autistic children.
ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder), makes them act like they do not care and be extremely defiant to authority. ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is basically a lack of concentration. ADHD is problem because it affects productivity and learning.
There are 3 forms of ADHD – inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity – too much energy. Their mind is like a Ferrari running down a hill.
My first son has ADHD and for children with ADHD, their intelligence is usually different. He performs better in multichoice questions but if you ask him a direct question, he won’t be able to answer intelligently.
How do you have a sex talk with your child?
When it comes to society, it is biased against women and girls that is why it is important to raise men to respect women and see them as equals.
The world has evolved, what these kids know is more than what we knew at their age. When you are having a sex talk with your kids, speak about their body parts, they know more than you know.
My son who is about four years old had an erection, erections at that age are completely natural. He was playing with his penis, he told me, ‘Mom, it tingles.’ so he was able to recognise the sensation.
Empower them to make the decisions when they are in the right frame of mind. For a young girl, you do not want her to be sad after intercourse. So, are they engaging in sexual acts because of the attention? Are they aware of all the consequences of their actions? Talk about STIs, condoms, everything.
Start sex education as early as possible. Kids can be so mean and make fun of each other. Teach them that it is okay if someone doesn’t like me, so they do not become perpetual people pleasers. Teach them empathy and know that they are watching you, badly behaved adults lead to badly behaved children.
How do you talk to your kids about religion
I grew up with such a fear of hell but when I teach religion, the focus is on the love of Christ and not being afraid. The purpose is not to create fear and for parents to impose their fears on children.
What do you think of flogging, spanking or slapping children?
I feel that if you must flog or spank a child, never do it when you are angry, and it should be commensurate with their age. A few strokes on their palms are okay. You don’t have to treat them like you are beating an adult.
The relationship you have with your kids is important at correcting them. My children are more concerned that I am not happy with them more than any beating. Sometimes, all I need to say is ‘mummy isn’t happy with you’ and they feel remorseful.
How should you discipline children?
Give appropriate consequences. I don’t like the word discipline, I prefer consequences. You should be able to reinforce behaviour either with a negative or positive reinforcer. Negative reinforcement will be taking away something the child likes.
I recently found out that my oldest son was using my bank cards to pay for his games, I seized his iPad for a few weeks, and it was during the holidays, and he was distraught.
Sometimes, I have behaviour contracts with my kids about what they should or shouldn’t do with rewards attached to it. I let them do it without hovering over them like I don’t trust them. Every child is different. Find out what might be a reward for yours.
Who was the toughest child you’ve taught or mentored?
I don’t think kids are naturally defiant or tough. There was this child in my class when I was still teaching in Lekki who would finish his tasks early and disturb everyone.
I started bringing comic books for him because he had finished reading all the books on the shelf. Later, he started illustrating the comics and now he is an artist. Everybody responds to love and care, so treat even the toughest kids.
I think that parents sometimes transfer aggression on kids for being just kids. If you just got a promotion at work and you walk in to see your house is a mess, will you still go off on your kids?
Probably not, but after a frustrating day at work, when you come home and see that your house is a mess, you are more likely to shout and scream at them. Kids are not perfect, so don’t expect them to be.
After obtaining a degree in International Relations, Osezusi spent her first five post-graduate years working in the financial sector as an Electronic Banking Expert.
Although, she was excelling in her career, her love for education was a spark in her heart that eventually became a burning desire, that she could no longer ignore. As a result, she took a leap of faith by putting her corporate career on hold to pursue a career in education.
She started as a teaching assistant at Standard Bearers School, Lekki 1, which meant earning less than a fraction of what she was earning at the bank.
Although some friends couldn’t understand her decision and were unsupportive, with the full support of her family, she continued to thrive as she grew steadily in the ranks, first as a class teacher, and then as head of admissions.
Subsequently, Zusi obtained a Post-graduate degree in Education (PGCE) and a Master’s in Education (M.Ed) from the University of Nottingham.