Our children are our future; let's LISTEN and teach them well!
When children grow up, the quality of listening of the adults around them is vital for their psychological development. Children who have been well listened too are likely not only to feel accepted by others but also to be able to accept themselves. Furthermore, they have had the safety to express and explore their feelings. Thus they have been helped to acquire the capacity of inner listening, listening to and trusting their own feelings and reactions, which is an essential part of outer listening, listening to others.
Additionally, having at least one reliable parent who listens well provides them with a secure base to engage in exploratory behaviour and make personal experiences that are enriching. Children not only learn from the consequences of their behaviour provided by other people but from the consequences or feedback they receive from their feelings.
Children who have not been adequately listened to are likely to be more out of touch with their feelings, more afraid and anxious, and more aggressive and violent. Just as good listening can affirm the core of another’s being, bad listening can disconfirm it. As such, bad listening perpetrated regularly may be viewed as a significant form of psychological violence, even if often unintended.
In South Africa, a country filled with high levels of violence, high levels of sexual crimes amongst children, and a bleak outlook for many youth entering the job market, the future is not so promising.
This is the message that our youth see and hear.
The level of unemployment in South Africa was reported to have decreased in the fourth quarter of 2012 by 0.1%, down from 25% to 24.9% (2012 Fourth Quarter Labour Survey). Sadly though...while any reduction in the unemployment rate is good news, in truth this minimal change reflects more an increase in the number of discouraged employment seekers (youth who are no longer looking for work), than an actual increase in employment.
There is another dimension to the of lack of quality and basic education that is of concern in South Africa, namely a deep fear of failure and of the unknown. Fear is normal for any new employee, but for youth, raised by parents who have either held menial jobs, or no job at all, employment is truly an unknown factor. Add to this the enormous pressure to succeed from a family for whom this may be the first graduate, or indeed the first real job, and one then begins to understand some of the pressure, faced by many youth.
Our youth need mentors that can support and assist them to develop skills to empower themselves and develop healthy images of the self, not worry about safety in schools, and taking on responsibilities of unwanted pregnancies or marrying to young.
We need to foster a culture of shared responsibility where we enable society to a shift in social change rather than perpetuate attributes of gender inequality that further lessens options for girl children in an educational system with a myriad of challenges in learning and teaching.
This can be very confusing and conflicting for any young child / adolescent. When in conflict our youth may find it difficult to perceive themselves and others accurately. For instance, by choosing to attribute blame to others, their situations, they may also be choosing to absolve themselves of any responsibility to make their lives more fulfilled.
Quality education should be a right, not a privilege.
It is tempting to blame poverty for our education problems, but the evidence seems to suggest otherwise, in South Africa compared to mainly low-income countries in Africa, we still perform poorly. http://www.info.gov.za/issues/education/index.html
We must find ways to improve access to education amongst a myriad of other challenges. We need to create spaces where both our girl and boy children are equipped with interpersonal skills that will strengthen their sense of a good self and sensitize school curriculums to gender matters, with all teachers training, developing the capacity for basic counselling skills.
Children should feel that they are catered for in a society challenged by many disparities, and at the same time feel a sense of worth in homes where many adults are feeling let down by failed systems.
We need a shift that empowers the young minds to assist in solving the problems of today for tomorrow, while learning from the mistakes of yesterday through a system of shared responsibility.
Our children are our future; we need to teach them well!