Residing in an informal settlement has its perks and dark moments. Many are times when calamities have occurred and affected dwellers of informal settlements negatively. This is not to say that only informal settlements are affected by calamities, rather, the response mechanism of these areas is not well-equipped. This takes its toll on the well being of the dwellers specifically parents who find it challenging to keep their children safe during such a situation.
Apart from natural disaster, like fire and floods which are often hard to mitigate in such areas, children are exposed to all types of people. Among them well-meaning and others, not so much. In such cases, it can be hard for children to discern the two.
Moreover, they say bad company corrupts good morals and the informal settlement provides a set up that has no limits when it comes to interactions. For this reason, children can pick up certain bad traits from their peers who may have been exposed to such given their upbringing in such areas which are known to rife with violence and crime.
Even though the primary goal of parenthood is providing for their offspring. Making sure the child is safe and grows up with a balanced mental wellness should also be a priority on the list. This is because most children who experience any type of trauma in their childhood struggle socially as adults.
The following tips could help you keep your child safe as they grow up in the informal settlements.
Monitor your child's moods
Through talking to your child everyday about their interests and how their day went, you will notice any sudden changes in their personality. Children who have experienced any form of assault; physical or sexual, tend to exhibit withdrawal symptoms.
Parents who notice this sudden change in their children should investigate thoroughly and corrective measures put in place with immediate effect.
Set boundaries for your child
Teach your child from a tender age to differentiate what is acceptable and what isn't. This will help a child raise alarm if mishandled in any manner. Make sure to reinforce these norms as the child grows so they are not unwary and instead accepting of any form of abuse, even on the playground.
Let your child know that even if an adult in charge of them or a relative crosses a certain boundary, they are free to report to you in secrecy. Trust your child when they raise an alarm about an abuse of any kind.
Leave them in the care of a trusted adult
Leaving a child unattended renders them vulnerable. It is therefore important to seek the services of trustworthy adult to care for your children in your absence. Make sure to enforce rule #1 no matter how much you trust the adult in question. In case it proves difficult to obtain help, enroll the child to helpful programs that will keep them safe while at the same time developing their character.
Arrive home in good time
Try to balance your work and family life so that you can be more present. Therefore,getting home in good time allows you to interact with your child thus allowing you to take note of their personality development and any sudden changes that may be arising. Getting home in good time will also allow you the pleasure of bathing your child if they are at that age. Make sure to be keen on any wincing and dark marks on their bodies.
Making time for your child boosts their self image. It makes them feel valued, therefore they are likely to live free of cravings for validation.
Be intentional with their discipline and development
As previously mentioned, informal settlements present an unpredictable environment for a child. This is likely to impact their development and discipline. During a child's interaction with neighbours and other children, a child will learn negative mannerism that should be checked with immediate effect. For instance a child may start using abusive language and changing their personality according to what they have observed.
As a parent, ensure this behaviour does not continue any longer. Be keen on the child's development as well to counter the laxity that could be the norm in the neighbourhood. Growing up in the informal settlement should not be something your child carries around as badge of honour in their indiscipline. Besides, they will grow up and indiscipline will not have a place in their lives
It is important as a parent to be the first role model for your child. Watch your language whenever speaking to anyone in your child's presence. Disciplining your child with love. This will improve their learning rate while at the same time maintaining the relationship between you and your child.