Although we aim to nurture healthy children, Nigerian children are still subjected to severe physical and mental stress as they develop.
So far our interest and activities have been to ensure their physical well-being through the reduction of the high mortality and morbidity rates, still inadequate as this case may be. But we need to examine from time to time the other needs of the Nigerian child which will ensure a total healthy development.
We are split between two cultures – our traditional and the Western, a relic of our colonial past. This also affects our child-rearing practices. Therefore, these practices must have a very important bearing on how the child is prepared for our world of today so that he first into our disturbed cultural milieu.
Different styles of child-rearing and education can produce different personalities in terms of ‘motivation, aggressiveness, achievement, and the integration of the individual into the community socially and culturally. It is important that, while we struggle with the visible organic diseases, we fix our gaze on the other important measures to attain this end – a healthy child.
The process of social adjustment being from the moment of birth. Many of our traditional birth practices endure that the mother either carries or suckles her child immediately after birth. The baby, therefore, comes in close contact with his mother at this critical time. By this means, the attachment of the baby to the mother, so essential for the child’s ability to relate to her in the future is secured.
This crucial moment in the baby’s life is now being recognized in Western countries, whilst birth practices in some hospitals and maternity homes separate mother and child immediately after birth to the extent that their ability to develop a close relationship may be jeopardized.
Our Nigerian child of today may, therefore, be worse off than that of yesterday. As we move towards the training of our traditional birth attendants to incorporate them into our health services, healthy practices such as the one described birth services, healthy practices such as the one described above must be maintained and encouraged.