Children who feel loved and cherished thrive.
This was the message Psychologist, Dr. Shirley Malone-Fenner, impressed upon the Barbados National Council of Parent-Teacher Associations (BNCPTA) Stakeholders in Education seminar, held at the Infinity Hotel in St. Lawrence Gap, yesterday.
She explained that regardless of socio-economic status, “when children do not hear from their parents that they are loved or if they are never hugged – it is like they are ‘starving’; it is just like you are not feeding the child; they are starved for your affection”.
“Sometimes it is just as simple to start showing and telling the child how much you love them, how much you care about them, how you are so excited about what they are doing in school every day and you are excited for them. Most importantly, you must be honest and do it with sincerity because children will pick up when you are not being sincere.
“You also must be consistent as you don’t want to be a loving parent one day, but someone that is mean and non-responsive the next day… It is giving mixed messages to the child.”
Dr. Malone-Fenner, Director of the Center of Excellence for Military Children and Families, and Co-ordinator/Campus Champion of the Jumpstart at Wheelock Program in the United States, was speaking on the topic “Effects of Psychological Trauma/Toxic Stress on Children: Implications for Parents, Teachers, Counsellors and Policy-makers”.
Looking at Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), the psychologist reminded the educators gathered that sometimes they are unaware of what a child is experiencing.
“Sometimes we make assumptions, but we really don’t know. It could be domestic violence, parental separation or divorce; it could a number of factors that are affecting the child,” she noted.
Dr. Malone-Fenner also pointed out, “Sometimes we as educators have a lot of baggage and our teaching style is often connected to our temperament. But, we have to remember that we are dealing with children and we can’t infer our baggage and our poor temperament onto them. This is very important.”
President of BNCPTA, Shone Gibbs, said there is overwhelming evidence, locally and internationally, that a school does best when there is strong parent-teacher relationship.
“Home and school are the main pillars within education, so it is high-time that educators, parents and society, tear down the artificial walls that exist between home and school, and do everything to promote the harmonious relationship,” he stressed.
“At the end of the day, the key success is really positive parental involvement and this must be embraced and facilitated by all. And I would hasten to say when not demonstrated by parents, agencies with the responsibility must move to hold parents accountable for their role.” (TL)



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