I had just concluded my second year in the secondary school and I was among the top five students in my class but wasn’t the best in the class. I was reasonably sad and disappointed because I felt I let down my dad’s expectation of me. My dad engaged me on my performance and told me what will guide me for the remainder of my life. He told me it was okay not to be graded as the best by people, what matters is ensuring I always give my best in whatever I’m doing. If I do that, then it doesn’t matter what people think.

These words from my dad gave me a new lease of confidence and contentment with my efforts and strides towards making my life better. I can’t imagine what would have happened to me if my dad had taken the popular ‘African discipline’ of tearing down kids mentally and tore down my already trodden confidence all because he assumed it was the best way to get a reaction from me. I’m sure the result would have been way worse.

Moral Suasion is a tool most parents and guardians fail to make use of from the early stages of raising their kids and wards. It helps expresses the expectation required from kids while reinforcing the values set by the parents or guardians. Suasion itself is the act of urging or influencing an individual to take an action, while Moral Suasion ensures the individual is taking a noble and morally upright action.

Some parents think tough love brings out the best in kids and help them withstand the hardship of life, while some think tough discipline only damages the child emotionally. Moral suasion provides the perfect balance in tough love approach of parents and the lack of discipline some parents adopt. Moral suasion shows its okay to raise a kid with certain expectations, but not tie their values to these expectations.

As parents and guardians, we must understand kids face obstacles every day and it will go a long way to celebrate their little wins like it’s the biggest thing since the invention of Jollof Rice. We must let them know its ok not to be the best in a pre-designed system that doesn’t recognize their uniqueness. Like the movie ‘Divergent’, it’s perfectly okay not to fit into the system that has been created to grade us. We must encourage them to smile and reach for their best no matter how unique it might be. We must learn to tell them their happiness matters the most even in the midst of ‘imagined failures’ because life isn’t a graded test with fixed answers.

Moral suasion doesn’t antagonize or negate proper discipline of an erring child but reinforces the expectation of the parents from their kids. It tells the kids what values their parents or guardians expects from them at all times. It tells them to hold their heads up high no matter what happens, especially if they have given their best.

Every child needs not just discipline, but moral suasion to coax out the best from them at all times.

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