Growing up, Children’s Day was always a lot of fun. I remember how we were selected for the prestigious Children’s Day march weeks ahead of D-day. During breaks at school, we would consistently practise to perfect our choreography. It was always rigorous, day after day, practising to get ahead of other primary schools we would compete with.
The school bus would take us together with some teachers to the stadium to exhibit what we’ve practised. We would sing different songs at the top of our voices until we got to the stadium. I remember always being at the front of the line because of my brief height, haha! I remember the heady feeling of lining up to shake the governor’s hand after winning the cup for the best display. I still remember one time when the school bus had a flat tyre on our way to the stadium.
I have lots of fun memories from Children’s Day as a child. But nowadays, a lot of those things have changed. Some schools organise colour-themed picnics for the children and that’s that; while others just treat it as a regular public holiday.
As we celebrate Children’s Day in Nigeria, in light of everything that has happened, it is essential to reflect on the significance of raising wholesome children. In a deeply troubled country like ours, where children are exposed to various influences, it becomes imperative for parents and caregivers to focus on cultivating an environment that nurtures their physical, mental, emotional, and moral well-being. By understanding the importance of raising wholesome children, we can lay a strong foundation for their future success and contribute to building a brighter and more compassionate society.
Raising wholesome children in a society filled with political disunity and corruption, among other things, requires special attention and deliberate efforts from parents. While the external environment may present obstacles, it is still possible to foster an environment that promotes wholesomeness and equips children with the tools to navigate these challenges. Here are some strategies for parents, teachers and caregivers to foster this wholesomeness:
Lead by Example
Parents, teachers and caregivers serve as role models for their children. Demonstrating values such as respect, tolerance, integrity, and empathy in our actions and interactions can positively influence our children’s behaviour. Show them that despite the challenges, it is possible to live by these values and contribute to a better society. We should help our children develop an appreciation for diversity and respect for different cultures, ethnicities, and religions. We can encourage open-mindedness and teach them about the importance of tolerance, empathy, and understanding. Engage in conversations that challenge stereotypes and biases, promoting inclusivity and unity.
Encourage Critical Thinking
We can promote critical thinking skills in our children by encouraging them to question information, seek different perspectives, and form their own opinions based on evidence and logical reasoning. We should teach them to analyse news and media critically, recognising biases and propaganda. By fostering critical thinking, we empower them to make informed decisions and resist manipulation.
Instil a Sense of Civic Responsibility
We should teach our children about their rights and responsibilities as citizens of Nigeria. We should help them understand the importance of active participation in their communities, whether it’s through volunteering, participating in community projects, or engaging in peaceful advocacy. We can encourage them to contribute positively to society, inspiring them to be part of the change they wish to see.
Foster Resilience and Optimism
We can acknowledge the challenges present in the country and at the same time teach our children resilience and optimism. We should help them understand that setbacks and obstacles are part of life, but it is their attitude and determination that can lead to positive change. We should encourage them to identify solutions and work towards them, nurturing a sense of hope and perseverance.
Educate about Good Governance and Ethics
We should introduce age-appropriate discussions about good governance, ethical leadership, and the importance of integrity. Our children should be taught the qualities of responsible leaders and the impact of corruption on society. We can encourage them to engage in conversations about politics, emphasising the value of voting, holding leaders accountable, and actively participating in the democratic process when they are of age.
Build a Supportive Network
On our part, we can create a supportive network for our children by fostering relationships with like-minded families and communities. Surrounding our children with positive influences and individuals who share similar values can provide a sense of belonging and support. We can engage them in activities and organisations that promote unity, social justice, and positive change.
Let us embrace our role as parents, caregivers, and members of society to create an environment that nurtures and empowers our children to grow into compassionate, responsible, and successful individuals. Together, we can shape a brighter future for our children and our nation. It is important to remember that parents alone cannot solve societal problems, however, by raising wholesome children who possess strong values, critical thinking abilities, and a sense of civic responsibility, we are contributing to a future generation that can actively work towards positive change in Nigeria.