Some of us are lucky enough not to be an only child and some of us have gone on to be also lucky to be a parent to more than one child. Thus we have children with different mannerisms, different temparaments, attributes and different ways of doing things.
Growing up, I was a very shy and tongue-tied person, I still am, although my children refuse to agree with me on that. Fortunately or unfortunately, I have an immediate elder sister
my sister and I.
that was outgoing, very bubbly, very nice and jovial, and also to compound my problems, I am Yoruba, if you are familiar with the Yoruba people, you would know that when it comes to greetings, they are professionals, they have a greeting for every occassion, every scenario., every person and thing(they have been known to greet ATM in banks), different weather, different professions and their practitioners, different stages of occurrences, different bereavement, and every joyous occassion, there is nothing like one size fits all greetings, a friend of mine that was even worse than me went visiting the family of a new born baby and greeted them ‘ ekú omo bíbí o ! Can somebody please translate that? Thank God the people present had a sense of humour. And you are expected to know all these greetings and know when to apply them. So imagine my poor self, growing up in such a setting and growing up along with somebody that I could be compared with. It got to a point , I just gave up because people would say don’t you see your sister? can’t you learn from her? After I gave up, people would again misconstrue my lack of vocal ability for pride, you are too full of yourself, who do you think you are? Can’t you greet? Little did they know that I would have been practising the greeting over and over again with the help of my sister but when the time comes, the words would just refuse to come out.
With time and with age and maturity, I have improved and can can do the bare necessitsiest but I am still not the going on and on in conversation type, I am still not comfortable with loads of people in social gatherings although I am good with one-on-one conversations and friendships, my sense of loyalty will not allow me do egbé (social club) or mass friendship, I cherish a few everlasting friendships and once you gain my friendship, it takes a lot for you to dislogde me because I overlook a lot, forgive a lot and stand by my friends a lot.
Even till now whilst my sister would call our mum and other elderly members of our family everyday about the same thing over and over again, I force myself to do so at least once a week or sometimes less but I assure you it is not that I love them less or that I can’t be bothered but its just becuase I find such telephone conversations tiring, awkward and repetetive, I am the action kind of person if you get what I mean, I do my obligations and duties towards them and thank God I have a fantastic mother
Naijamum and her mum.
that loves me to the moon and back, that is understanding, and to whom I can do no wrong.
This topic will come under grace and courtesy under the Montessori method of education, so if you are faced with such a challenge, how will you help your tongue-tied child, especially if (s)he does not have a sibling to help her or that he can tag along with like I had? Or if both or all of them are shy and tongue-tied.
- Do not overlook it and say they will outgrow it. Yes they might outgrow it like I did, but the sooner they do, the better, and the sooner they get your help the better.
- Correct with love and by example, I had a grandma, (you know how African children have grandmas and lots of other relatives) that refused to give up on me, every morning she would greet me first so I would be forced to great her back, after a while, she would say…’you , come here, people must greet people, you must greet when you see people’ or ‘have you greeted me this morning?’ This continued till I gained a little confidnce and could extend the greeting to others.
- Do not compare between your children, it took a lot of love and understanding for it not to put a rift betwen my sister and I and till now, my sister still has my back and would defend me to anybody and anywhere whilst still cajoling me to call somebody up or make time out to visit somebody either for one reason or another. And by the way, I have two nieces from this same sister with different temperament just like ours and so this makes us laugh and laugh.
- Help them devise other means of greetings, thank God for electronic platform like emails, social media etc, although this should not replace social interactions but half bread is better than none.
- Start early in encouraging them to learn greetings, dont say they are still young, what do they know? The earlier you introduce them to grace and courtsey in your culture, the easier your job on that will be. We were taught to kneel down to greet and to kneel individually for as many elders we meet in a gathering, so for example, if there are ten people in a gathering, that equals ten ‘kneeling downs’, and I got used to that so that when my voice and my confidence failed me , my expertise at kneeling down did not.
- Let them know the benefits of being friendly, nice and polite, it opens doors that even their parents’ name, their qualifications and good looks will not.
- 7. Be understanding and share your own experiences, if you have gone through the same phase like I have, develop the ability to laugh at yourself and by so doing build that confidence in them that if you can do it, they can too.
- Finally, ability to show gratitude is very important, teach them from vey young how to appreciate people and things around them, and how to say please, thank you and mean it.