Christmas can be a time to instil life skills, living values in children

Children playing

Children enjoy the December holiday season in Mukur village in Tiaty, Baringo County.

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Many parents think that the festive season is just for merry making and nothing educational.
  • Noteworthy are the essential long life skills and living values they may learn through joint social activities.

The festive season is here with us. Our children are also at home. This comes at a time when debate is rife about deterioration of discipline among our school going children.

Many students did not complete the second term in school. Some were suspended while others were referred for counseling. Others have been appearing in court for crimes they committed in school for torching school facilities. 

This is despite the fact that they may not be convicted because they are not yet of the legal age of 18 years. The combination of indiscipline, children being at home and merry making will be a challenge to both the parents and the community. These challenges notwithstanding, celebration can be combined with disciplining of our children without dulling the festive season.

Many parents think that the festive season is just for merry making and nothing educational. More so for the reason the children have been stressed with the school crash programme. Notwithstanding the common purpose of school holiday, the festive season can serve as a time for informal education. This is the knowledge, skills and attitudes that children acquire without anybody having intended to teach them. Noteworthy are the essential long life skills and living values they may learn through joint social activities.

It is important to note that this learning can only occur in appropriately pre-planned environments and with the right exposure. The people the child will be exposed to will play an important role in the kind of learning that will take place.

A number of families will be travelling from the urban centres to rural areas to join their village folk in the fun moments that come with Christmas and the ushering in of a New Year. Others may not necessarily travel to their rural homes but to other cities or destinations within the country or beyond. Those who will remain in the urban centres are likely to take their children to hotels and other social amenities.

Social interaction

Some of these social places are not safe for our children. Wherever the children will be, one should worry about the safety of the activities their children will undertake. Another concern is the influence of other children whether related or unrelated to our children.

While social interaction is a tool for acquisition of social life skills, there are many risks that come with it.  History has it that, it is during the festive season that many young people try, for the first time, behaviours and things that are prohibited by their caregivers. Some are likely to indulge in sex for the first time during this period. Others will try smoking and consumption of other illicit drugs during Christmas. 

Children get a leeway because their parents and significant caregivers will be too busy being entertained or entertaining guests. Some parents will drop the guard and are likely to get drunk during Christmas. This will leave the children uncovered and free to roam to wherever and associate with whomever.

Parents need to have a clear plan and if possible a discussion with their children on the dos and don’ts during the festive season. The plan should entail what will be done, where, when and with whom without imposing unrealistic rules and regulations. Let the children know the consequences of certain indulgences. Let them know that sex and specifically unprotected sex is likely to make them contract HIV and venereal diseases. 

Girls should understand the likelihood of getting pregnant and how that will destroy their life plans. Let the children know that their value will get diminished and their self-esteem will be negatively affected by pre-marital sex. It should be clear that certain habits are addictive and will have a long term negative effect in their psychosocial life and health. 

We all need to have a collective responsibility over all the children during this festive season. Let every sane parent realise that it is their responsibility not to let children wander into activities that are likely to endanger them. 

Dr Wanjohi an educationist specialising in early childhood education. [email protected]

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