Use of nannies and technology leading to children being neglected, UAE experts warn

June 25, 2014

ABU DHABI – Child neglect is on the increase because of many parents’ hectic work schedules, over-reliance on nannies and the use of computer games as a substitute for parental care.

“It is quite common for nannies or other caregivers to attend to the physical needs of the child that cannot be met by the parents,” said Dr Deema Sihweil, a leading clinical psychologist.

“Work or travel schedules of one or both parents is often the reason for this,” she said.

Sitting a child in front of a computer game gave parents time to attend to other matters, but such lack of effective parenting can lead to unruly and indisciplined children who lack basic control.

Instead, Dr Sihweil said, parents must take responsibility for their children’s physical and emotional needs.

“Parents are the best teachers of verbal, emotional and relationship skill development and neglecting these areas of development can create rifts in the relationships between parents and their children, often with long-lasting consequences,” she said.

“I don’t have statistics but I am noticing an increase in neglect,” said Dr Abdullatif Al Azazi, a family counsellor and chairman of the Excellence Centre in Abu Dhabi.

Dr Al Azazi defined neglect as ignoring a child’s basic need of love and care and not communicating.

“Parents need to be loving yet firm. What builds a human is love and when one human connects with another that is a basic giving need. We must guide the child through life and not command,” he said.

Nurturing a child with love will allow them to emulate such behaviour as they grow up, and it is more effective than telling them off.

He suggests parents hug their children when they misbehave.

“Hugging is a strong action and when you hug, what is the message you are giving to your child? You are giving him love and security, and this is what a child needs when he does something wrong,” he said.

In a 2012 study conducted by Dr Ahmad Al Omosh, dean of the college of sociology at the University of Sharjah, 81 out of 193 children said they felt neglected in their homes.

The families were selected at random and were studied based on social, demographic and emotional factors.

“In our societies we lack emotional support, we have homes and food but no affection and we must focus on the area. Children need affection and to have their parents physically close to them. The children need hugs,” Dr Al Omosh said.

The first four years of a child’s life are important in imprinting desired behaviours in a child and the basis of it begins at home.

Dr Al Omosh also said schools and homes require a “harmonious relationship”, but in most cases family rules and the school system contradicted each other.

“The family is the first foundation in teaching the child behaviour, attitudes and values. The child learns obedience from the family – they are the source.

“Then comes the school environment and friends – this is how they learn either aggressiveness or leadership.”

Source: The National
Published: 22 June 2014


Category: Features, Health alert

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