The Families Make a Difference program aimed to train and sensitize over 11,000 parents and caregivers with children aged 0-5 years on the importance of their role in their children’s development and education. As the program comes to an end, we hear from parents how they responded to the training.
The role families, caregivers and parents play in supporting a child’s early development is crucial to equip children with the skills and resources they need to grow. The Families Make a Difference program specifically trained parents and caregivers in cocoa farming communities in Côte d’Ivoire how to better support their children.
Participants were invited to join a 10-session training program that addressed several themes, including:
- positive interaction
- commitment to positive parenting
- harmony at home
- nutrition for child development and prevention of childhood diseases.
The work was facilitated through the International Rescue Committee (IRC) with financial support from the Jacobs Foundation through the TRECC Program, and chocolate manufacturers Touton and Mondelez.
What did families learn?
As the Families Make a Difference program is now coming to an end we are proud to share that nearly 180 communities have benefited from training.. So how did we do? In addition to a formal project evaluation, we asked some parents from Broukro, Pascalkro and Baleyo in the Nawa region, to share with us the changes they observed since the beginning of the program.
I learned during the training when I want to go outside, whether it is to go to the fields or to the market, I should not leave my child under the supervision of another child, even if he or she is a little older. I can’t leave my child with someone who can’t look after themselves. So, now I make sure that my child is under adult supervision before going out.
At the training we were told that when the children annoy us, we should not hit them. When they do something bad, we should not hit them. For example, last time my son did something bad, I wanted to hit him, and I remembered what was said at the training, especially about the different techniques of anger management. I took several deep breaths until my anger subsided, and I did not hit him.
Also, during the training, we were asked to play and communicate with the children to develop harmony, understanding and love. Though I wasn’t communicating with my children before, now I do it more and I have noticed that with greater communication, especially with the older children my heart is more at peace.
It is my wife who usually participates in the training. Since the beginning of the training meetings, I have noticed that she no longer lets the children cry. When one of the children starts to cry, she goes to him with her cloth, takes him and carries him on her back. She goes more often to the children.
As for me, I play a lot more with my grandchildren, contrary to the preconceived idea that if we play with our children, they will not respect us. Before, we had our own way of thinking, but since the training we have discovered other ways of doing things, other methods. Before it was common and normal to neglect the children, but since the training we take care of the children, we care for them, we want them to succeed in life and we do everything so that will happen.
We still encounter some difficulties in putting into practice what we learned during the trainings because we did not start educating our children following this method. Certain practices are difficult such as establishing dialogue and communication at home. It is difficult to sit down with our children, especially the older ones (5-10 years old), because we had not established this habit. But since we discuss more with them, we understand them and can control them better. However, it is much easier with the younger ones, because we are still at the stage of establishing habits.
Koffi Daniel – Village chief
I faced some difficulties during the sensitization on the importance of schooling for children.
I went to raise awareness with a young man house who was particularly difficult to convince. But thanks to the explanations I gave him, he finally understood the importance of sending his children to school.
During my sensitization training, I went to a young man’s house where he told me that if his father does not give him the order to send his children to school, he will not do it. So, I asked him who he thought he was hurting? It is not his father, but rather his child that he is hurting. I explained to him that the benefits of schooling children from the age of 4 had been proven. He then explained that he did not have the financial means to put his children in school. To this I replied that it might be the child he would send to school that would lift him out of poverty. He told me he understood.
To avoid that my husband opposes the new practices that I put in place at home with the children, as soon as I come back from training, I tell him what we have learned and the theme covered. This way, he gives me support at home.
In the past I used to hit my children but since the training I don’t hit them anymore and I speak calmly.
Moreover, thanks to the training we congratulate our children. For instance, one day when I went to the fields, a heavy rain fell on me and when I came back home my shoes were full of mud. My child took them and washed them, I was so happy with his action that I didn’t know what to say, so I congratulated him and my husband who was sitting next to us said: “Now in this house we congratulate children a lot!”.
Also, my son used to always refuse when I sent him to do something, but since I congratulate him more and give him more affection, he is more willing to do things and now when I ask him to go do something for me, he goes without hesitation.
What is very difficult for me and makes me very tired is that in the training we were told to ignore the children when they are doing something that is not a big deal and not dangerous to them or to others. Meaning if the child does something bad, I have to continue doing what I was doing without paying attention, for example if he pours on the floor water that I went to collect I have to let him do it and not say anything, it’s really difficult. I can’t keep my mouth shut! It’s hard for me to ignore.
At the beginning of the training, I didn’t know why I was there, I just saw that they registered and was told that I had to participate. I wasn’t giving too much importance to these trainings, but now I understand the relevance of my participation, because it is beneficial for me. I see the positive impact of the trainings in my daily life. I communicate with the children; the children play with me much more and they are closer to me. I understand that I too can educate my children and that I have a role to play.
Since I started the training, joy is present in my home and my house is glowing. My children also changed their way of being and I understood that I had to lower the tension at home.
Personally, I used to hit my children, regardless of their age, whether they were 2 years old or older, I would hit them when they got on my nerves whether it was their fault or not. But since the training, I have changed and even when he pees where he shouldn’t I don’t hit him. When I think about what we learn during the training, I have more control and since then my children are also calmer and more respectful. When the children don’t listen when I ask them to do something, I wait until they do it.
At the beginning my wife wasn’t coming to the trainings and she didn’t understand why I stopped yelling at the children anymore. She told me to yell at them to make them obey me but I had to explain to her that with children you have to be gentle and not yell, you have to be patient with them.
 The parents interventions have been translated from Baoule to French then English in Broukro and Pascalkro and from Dioula to French then English in Baleyo.