Parenting for Child Development program creates positive change in Naomi’s family
Mother remorseful of past parenting parenting practices
Respectful and obedient is how Elementary School Teacher, Naomi Muriang describes Emmanuel, her 14-year-old son.
But Emmanuel wasn’t always like this until after his mother made some drastic changes at home almost four years ago.
“I was a rough mother before when I was raising my seven children, five of my own and two others that I adopted. That’s many children to look after so I was harsh when disciplining them. I didn’t respect them, I mistreated them, I hit them, shouted at them and I didn’t have time for them because I was always busy. I was the boss, I gave orders and I expected everyone to follow them and if they didn’t, they had another thing coming,” Naomi recalls.
But that changed when Naomi attended a two-week Parenting for Child Development (P4CD) training, offered by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea (ELCPNG) in Lae, Morobe Province in 2019. She learned about positive discipline, a non-violent child disciplining approach that she knew nothing about then but would completely change her attitude towards her family
“After the training, I had a lot of regrets because my children were teenagers at that stage and I realized the mistakes I made in their upbringing. I understood why my sons were also rough and talked back to me all the time. I could see my youngest son, Emmanuel, going down that path too. I cried for my children because I realized I had contributed to the way they were turning out and it hurt me. I apologized to my children and reconciled with them.
“I saw the most change in my youngest son. P4CD has changed my son. He is so humble and obedient. He is doing things that I have never seen my older sons do,” she adds.
Naomi is among 4000 parents and caregivers exposed to the P4CD program that UNICEF supports in four provinces in Papua New Guinea. P4CD is a group parenting program that enhances parenting skills and teaches parents and caregivers to promote non-violent child disciplining aimed at reducing aggressive, hostile and verbally abusive interactions between parents and children.
While there are no nationally representative data on violence against children in PNG, several small-scale studies reveal that about three in four children experience physical violence, eight out of ten children experience emotional violence and one in two children suffer from sexual violence in their lifetime. Children’s safety, wellbeing and opportunity for development are threatened by exposure to high levels of violence and abuse in all settings.
Research shows that harsh parenting and maltreatment of young children increase the risks of antisocial behaviour, drug and alcohol misuse, and mental health problems as they grow up and can lead to more serious problems in adolescence. These problems can become worse if parents try to deal with them through increasingly harsh parenting and physical discipline.
The P4CD program emphasises brain development that contributes significantly to child development in the early formative years of life when a child is born to age five.
“I never understood how the brain develops. I thought children were children and in my control but I learned that a child’s brain is like a sponge that absorbs everything that is happening around them. So when they are very young, it is so important to teach them positive behaviours and mould them to be good people. I only understood this after the training and this is key for me."