When Sabitri, 33, gave birth to her first child, she didn’t know much about childcare or parenting skills. She often smacked her daughter when she was naughty as she had been disciplined in the same way when she was young.
“I used to hit my eldest daughter sometimes when she made small mistakes, I was not aware of the negative consequences of physical punishment, but now I have stopped repeating the same mistake,” Sabitri says.
I was not aware of the negative consequences of physical punishment.
Things started to change after Sabitri attended a series of parenting education sessions run by Plan International in Nepal as part of our early childhood development programme. Parents are invited to take part in 12 sessions over a 6-month period to learn more about nutrition, hygiene, positive behaviours and alternative methods of discipline.
Sabitri’s eldest daughter is now 8 and her youngest is 16 months. “I want my children to grow up healthy and have a better life. I didn’t go to school but I hope both my daughters will have an education so they can make their lives better.”
Encouraging tough discussions
The parenting classes, rolled out in Sindhuli, Bardiya, and Jumla districts, encourage parents to discuss some of the issues they face such as the challenges, social norms, and taboos which can prevent good childcare practices and the development of their children. These kinds of discussions and information sharing are a new experience for most parents.
I want my children to grow up healthy and have a better life.
Twenty-two-year-old Mona is mother to a 2-year-old girl. “I am really happy to learn about nutrition and the best way of nurturing infants. We were asked to avoid feeding junk food to our children, I have been following the instruction and now give my daughter a homemade diet.”
Health workers have also noticed the positive changes in the community. “In the past, most of the mothers didn’t give their children a nutritious diet, often feeding them junk food. However, following the parenting education sessions, mothers have become more aware about what kind of foods to give their babies,” explains health centre worker Sushila Adhikari Shrestha.
Parents create a better future for their children
Ranjita, 30, says that the parenting classes have changed the way she takes care of her children. “I never imagined that we need to think about our child’s diet during pregnancy. I have realised that every child can have a better life, if they are taken care of before birth.”
Involving fathers is an important part of the process, something that Ranjita wholeheartedly agrees with. “The engagement of fathers on nurturing their children is one of best aspects of the classes,” she says. “When I gave birth to my first daughter, my husband didn’t engage with her. But now he loves to get involved with our second daughter.”
Ranjita’s husband Madhu admits that he did neglect his first child. “I felt that it was only the mother’s duty to take care of the children before. However, after attending the sessions, I realised that a father’s role in looking after their children is equally important for the child’s wellbeing.”