Nairobi News


PARENTING: Why all parents should be careful with what they expose their children to

Have you ever wondered why your child behaves the way s/he does? Why do they chew with their mouth open, why they seem to always shout at the house help, why they are constantly refusing to listen to you? Well, you might just be the reason why.

I recently noticed that my 13-month-old daughter knocks before she pushes open a closed door. It is a habit that I have, I always knock when I find a closed door, no matter whose room it leads to. I had not realised that she had picked up on this.

I have also noticed that when she gets her tiny fingers on my phone, she will scroll up and down, just like I do and will scream and bawl if I lock the screen.

Children are sponges, they pick up everything they see us do – good and bad. That is the reason why many house helps and neighbours are left in stitches and thoroughly entertained during the day while you are away when they are shown exactly what you and your partner do when you are alone together and think that the baby is asleep.

I personally wouldn’t know how to face the help after my secrets being exposed like that.

Speaking of nannies, it is for this reason that it is imperative to get a person with good values who will rub off on your child. I have a cousin who used to say, “Wee kichwa… kichwa hii… kichwa nenge (Kichwa kama malenge),” when she was about three years old. The girl she used to be left with while the mother was at work would constantly berate her and call her those names but she was outed when the little girl began parroting all that she was told in the mother’s absence.


My little girl also has some serious dance moves. Every time music plays, she shakes her little body in the most amusing way. I realised that this she had picked up from the last nanny, who was a big fan of music shows on telly. This got me thinking, what exactly is this that we are exposing our children to?

Many of our helpers around the home are in the job because of poverty. Because of their poor backgrounds, they did not have access to good education hence no chance of getting better jobs. Some are not the best in terms of morality.

When we hire young girls with children, it should strike in us some fear, as their behaviour may be left behind in our children.

I recently let go of a house help that I had had for three months. She was not very good at her job; she did not know how to clean, cook or even mind the baby. I kept her on hoping that she would learn on the way and maybe surprise me by how good she had gotten. She did not do either of those things.

Anyway, at some point I found out that she had been stealing from me. Small things, but theft is theft. However, under the advisement of my mother, through whom I had gotten her, I forgave her and gave her a stern warning to no repeat. She did not listen, so she had to go. She forgot her waiting card, which was in my possession. Instead of asking for it nicely, she threatened me. I had to go to the police, house girls’ threats are to be taken seriously.

So, had she stayed longer into my daughter’s formative years, would she have created a thief out of her?