The Gentle Parenting Approach to Raising Nigerian Children

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Nigerian parenting is a complex and multifaceted topic. Raising children in Nigeria is a challenge, but it’s also a very rewarding experience. Nigerian parents face many unique challenges, from cultural expectations to financial constraints, but they also enjoy strong family bonds, a sense of community, and resilient children.

This article will explore how gentle parenting can help Nigerian parents meet these challenges. Gentle parenting is a non-punitive approach to parenting that focuses on building positive relationships with children. It can be a helpful approach for Nigerian parents who are looking for a more respectful and effective way to raise their children. Some of the pressing challenges Nigerian parents face include:

Cultural expectations: Nigerian culture places a high value on family, community, and respect for elders, and parents are expected to uphold these values. This can mean being strict with children, teaching them traditional values, and ensuring that they are well-behaved in public. This often creates challenges for parents who are trying to raise independent and self-directed children. 

Financial constraints: Many Nigerian families live below the poverty line, which makes it difficult to provide for their children’s basic needs, such as food, clothing, and shelter. It can also make it very difficult to pay for education and healthcare. This can lead to stress and anxiety for parents, and it can also make it difficult to afford things like quality education and healthcare.

Educational challenges: The Nigerian education system is often overcrowded and underfunded, which can make it difficult for children to get a quality education. This can lead to frustration for parents, and it can also make it difficult for children to succeed in school.

Social pressures: Nigerian society can be quite competitive, and parents may feel pressure to ensure that their children are successful. This can lead to parents pushing their children too hard, which can have negative consequences for the children’s mental and physical health. This also puts pressure on children to succeed academically and professionally, and can also lead to bullying and peer pressure. 

Health concerns: Nigeria has a high rate of child mortality, and many children suffer from preventable diseases. This can be a major challenge for parents, and it can also be a source of anxiety and stress.

Despite these challenges, there are many benefits to raising children in Nigeria. Nigerian parents often have strong family bonds, and they enjoy spending time with their children. They also appreciate the sense of community that exists in Nigeria, and they feel supported by their extended families and friends. Additionally, Nigerian children are often resilient and adaptable, and they learn to cope with the challenges of life in Nigeria.

Although there aren’t many resources available to help Nigerian parents, some of the available options include:

Government programs: The Nigerian government offers a number of programs to support parents, such as free healthcare for children under the age of five and subsidies for school fees.

Non-profit organizations: There are a number of non-profit organizations that provide support such as counseling, parenting classes, and financial assistance to Nigerian parents, like the Save the Children Foundation and UNICEF.

Online resources and parent support groups: There are a number of online resources that can help Nigerian parents, such as websites, blogs, and forums.

Gentle parenting in the Nigerian culture

Gentle parenting is a parenting practice that has become popular in recent times that emphasizes respect, empathy, and understanding. It is a non-punitive approach that focuses on building positive relationships with children and helping them to develop self-regulation and emotional intelligence, and problem-solving skills. Gentle parenting can be challenging to implement in the Nigerian culture, where strict discipline is often seen as the norm.

In the Nigerian culture, there is a strong emphasis on obedience and respect for elders. However, there are ways to adapt gentle parenting to the Nigerian culture. For example, parents can focus on explaining their expectations to children and giving them choices whenever possible. They can also use positive reinforcement to encourage good behavior and focus less on negative reinforcement and punishment.

The unique challenges Nigerian parents face, however, can make it quite difficult to implement gentle parenting techniques. For example, if a parent is struggling to make ends meet, they may not have the time or energy to focus on gentle parenting. Additionally, if a parent is worried about their child’s safety, they may be more likely to use harsh discipline methods. Gentle parenting as a Nigerian can be difficult, but not impossible. 

There are some specific ways you can adapt gentle parenting to the Nigerian culture:

  • Focus on building a strong relationship with your child. This means spending time with your child, listening to them, and showing them that you love and care for them.
  • Use positive reinforcement instead of punishment. Positive reinforcement is a powerful tool that can be used to encourage good behavior in children. In the Nigerian culture, positive reinforcement could take the form of praise, gifts, or special privileges. For example, you could praise your child for good behavior or helping out around the house, and let them know that you are proud of them. You could  also give them a special treat for being good at school.
  • Set clear boundaries and expectations. Let your child know what is expected of them, and be consistent in enforcing the rules. Most Nigerian parents don’t have any issues with this one, however it is important to learn to lead with a lighter hand, as well as find beneficial alternatives to handle difficult situations. When explaining expectations to children, it is important to be mindful of the Nigerian culture. For example, you could explain that children are expected to respect their elders and to behave well in public. However, you could also explain that children are allowed to have their own opinions and feelings, and that they should be treated with kindness and respect. This will develop their self-esteem and self-regulation. 
  • Be patient and understanding. Children learn at their own pace, and they will make mistakes. Be patient with your child and help them learn from their mistakes.
  • Seek support from other parents. Talking to other parents who are using gentle parenting can be helpful. They can offer support and advice, and they can help you to stay motivated.

It is important to be flexible and adaptable when adapting gentle parenting to the Nigerian culture. What works today may not work tomorrow, so be willing to adjust your approach as needed. Aww

I once saw a Nigerian mother using gentle parenting with her young son. The boy was having a very loud tantrum at a supermarket, yet his mother was calmly talking to him and trying to understand why he was upset. She didn’t yell at him or smack him into obedience, but she was very firm about her expectations. The boy eventually calmed down, and they were able to finish their shopping. I was totally impressed. She was clearly committed to being a gentle parent, even in an obviously difficult and embarrassing situation. I think her example shows that gentle parenting can be effective in Nigerian culture.

One common objection to gentle parenting is that it will make children spoiled or disrespectful, but there is no evidence to support this claim. In fact, studies have shown that gentle parenting can actually lead to children who are more well-behaved and respectful.

Another objection to gentle parenting is that it is too soft or permissive. However, gentle parenting is not about being soft or permissive. It is about being respectful and understanding. Gentle parents set clear boundaries and expectations, but they do so in a way that is respectful of the child’s feelings. 

Gentle parenting is not for everyone. Some parents may find that it is not a good fit for their personality or their parenting style. However, for those who are willing to give it a try, gentle parenting can be very rewarding. The most important thing is to find what works best for you and your family. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to parenting, so don’t be afraid to experiment until you find a style that you are comfortable with. By seeking out help, resources, new information and learning from the experiences of others, Nigerian parents can learn to raise happy and healthy, yet very respectful and responsible children.

If you are considering trying gentle parenting, I encourage you to do your research and talk to other parents who have used it successfully. You may be surprised at how effective it can be. It takes time and effort to implement gentle parenting, and parents should be patient and persistent. Don’t give up if you don’t see immediate results. After all, gentle parenting is not about being perfect. It is about being present, being patient, and being kind. And those are qualities that all parents can strive for, regardless of their parenting style.

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