The holiday comes with a lot of challenges, especially when it comes to handling children and managing their behaviour in general.
As parents, experts say working together with your children can help keep their behaviour in check. However, in one way or another, parents may also contribute to their children’s misbehaviour unknowingly.
Valens Mushinzimana, the deputy headmaster in charge of discipline at Lycee de Kigali, says parents should not be over-controlling of their children during the holiday.
He adds that instead, understanding how your personality impacts the behaviour of your child can help you develop effective ways of communication or correcting the behaviour if it’s bad.
However, Mushinzimana points out that during holiday time, children have a lot of free time, and if they are not monitored well some can end up indulging in bad behaviour either due to peer pressure or because of the circumstances surrounding them.
For Nelson Mukasa, the president of Children Youth Sports, an organisation that helps children explore their sporting talents, this is a time when students, especially the teens, engage in all sort of mischief.
For instance, he says drug abuse, influence of bad groups and engaging in risky sexual behaviour, are just some of the common activities that students are most likely to get involved in once outside school.
“Although there is no easy way to find a solution for this, parents should use this opportunity to keep their children busy. They can enroll them in programmes that have extra curriculum activities as a way of keeping them from such danger,” he says.
Mukasa adds that this is even better if their children are passionate about certain games or sports activity.
“As the adage goes; an idle mind is the devil’s workshop. When children have free time; it’s easier doing things that are not right. So engaging them in various activities will prevent boredom and keep the children safe,” he says.
Jackyline Irabagiza, a counsellor and matron at Martyrs Secondary School in Remera, believes that in most cases, children who indulge in bad behaviour are seeking attention from elsewhere because they are not getting it from their parents or people living with them.
She notes that it’s a good idea for parents to always pay attention to what they are told by their children. By doing that, it’s easier to identify the problems and weaknesses of children.
“I believe this festive season; parents should spend some good time with their families. For those who are always busy working, this is an opportunity to spend time together so that they identify what their children want,” she says.
Irabagiza says short of that, children are more likely to join bad groups that may spoil or mislead them.
Mushinzimana says as children grow, they want to be more independent, especially those in their teens, and handling them is no easy job. But as a guardian, such children are still under your care and they need to be informed on how to make the right decisions in a decent way.
“Coming up with house rules indicating the consequences of breaking any of them can help them behave right,” he says.
Irabagiza says working together as a family is another way of promoting a healthy bond, which helps children to develop a sense of compassion and unity.
For any child to prosper in life, Diana Nawatti, a counsellor and head teacher of Mother Mary Complex School in Kigali, says helping them to grow up with religious values is ideal.
She notes that parents should encourage their children to accompany them for prayers, as well as encourage them to be involved in church activities.
“Letting students know about how to lead upright lives improves their discipline levels which motivates them to work harder both at school and home. Spending time doing charity and other Christian work keeps some of them away of from bad vices,” she says.
Nawatti says parents should be watchful on what their children do on their phones and other gadgets to keep them away from straying.