Parenting: Some behaviour tips. Part one.

Bismillah,

I received a message from someone on FB regarding homeschooling and controlling temper with kids etc. In an attempt to cause a fruitful discussion and to get more advice from other moms, I have decided to publish this exchange as a note. (Parts of sister’s message in bold)

“Assalaam alaikum, dear sister

I need your advice. I never thought of the idea to homeschool my child, rather I believed it was something out of date…I was so so wrong. I am taking back my child from the kindergarden and plan to homeschool her, inshAllah, by inspiration and with the help of such sisters like you, whose work has left me merely impressed.”

Wa alaykum assalam wa rohmatulloh,

Alhamdulillah, homeschooling is new to most of us. Merely because we have all been through the schooling system ourselves and didn’t know such a concept existed. Also our lifestyles back home (assuming you are from uzbekistan *smile*) didn’t emphasize the broad philosophy of education, raising good believers and the importance of home and mother in child’s upbringing. Though I have homeschooled kids from the time they were babies, I have placed my 4 year old daughter in public school this September and decided to pull her out. I will do a note later inshaAllah on “why I decided to take my daughter out of public school”. But to you, my dear sister, I would say go ahead with your decision inshaAllah. It is such a blessing to be able to educate your own children. You are not merely teaching numeracy/literacy and all the academics, but you will have more control over the “tarbiyya” side of your child. And the latter is of greater importance.

I have been reading your posts and one things which really touched me or left me hanging in the air…is controlling one’s temper when child is around. SubhanAllah, I realized how important it is not long ago and working my best to achieve strong patience with my 4 year old daughter. But this is not an issue with my husband. I tried to talk to him, he has absolutely different philosophy on child upbringing. His patience runs out very quickly and he actually sees that child immediately distances herself from him, though might come back a lit later with a big smile anyways… I don’t know how to balance these relationships. Are my efforts lost in this case?”

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Strangers in Our Homes: TV and Our Children’s Minds

by Susan R. Johnson, M.D.

As a mother and a pediatrician who completed both a three-year residency in Pediatrics and a three-year subspecialty fellowship in Behavioral and Developmental Pediatrics, I started to wonder: “What are we doing to our children’s growth and learning potential by allowing them to watch television and videos as well as spend endless hours playing computer games?”

I practiced seven years as the Physician Consultant at the School Health Center in San Francisco, performing comprehensive assessments on children, ages 4-12, who were having learning and behavioral difficulties in school. I saw hundreds of children who were having difficulties paying attention, focusing on their work, and performing fine and gross motor tasks. Many of these children had a poor self-image and problems relating to adults and peers. As a pediatrician, I had always discouraged television viewing, because of the often violent nature of its content (especially cartoons) and because of all the commercials aimed at children. However, it wasn’t until the birth of my own child, 6 years ago, that I came face to face with the real impact of television. It wasn’t just the content, for I had carefully screened the programs my child watched. It was the change in my child’s behavior (his mood, his motor movements, his play) before, during and after watching TV that truly frightened me.

Before watching TV, he would be outside in nature, content to look at bugs, make things with sticks and rocks, and play in the water and sand. He seemed at peace with himself, his body, and his environment. When watching TV, he was so unresponsive to me and to what was happening around him, that he seemed glued to the television set. When I turned off the TV he became anxious, nervous, and irritable and usually cried (or screamed) for the TV to be turned back on. His play was erratic, his movements impulsive and uncoordinated. His play lacked his own imaginative input. Instead of creating his own play themes, he was simply re-enacting what he had just seen on TV in a very repetitive, uncreative and stilted way.

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Golden Principles of Raising Children

From Sunni Path

The following is from Imam Ghazali’s: Disciplining the Soul (Kitab Riyadat al-Nafs), being Book XXI of Ihya’ `Ulum al-Din (The Revival of the Religious Sciences) translated by T.J. Winter (Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad)

NOW that the way in which young children are disciplined is one of the most important of all matters. A child is a trust in the care of his parents, for his pure heart is a precious uncut jewel devoid of any form or carving, which will accept being cut into any shape, and will be disposed according to the guidance it receives from others. If it is habituated to and instructed in goodness then this will be its practice when it grows up, and it will attain to felicity in this world and the next; its parents too, and all its teachers and preceptors, will share in its reward. Similarly, should it be habituated to evil and neglected as though it were an animal, then misery and perdition will be its lot, and the responsibility for this will be borne by its guardian and supervisor. For God (Exalted is He!) has said, Ward off from yourselves and your families a Fire. A father may strive to protect his son from fire in this world, but yet it is of far greater urgency that he protect him from the fires which exist in the Afterlife. This he should do by giving him discipline, teaching him and refining his character, and by preserving him from bad company, and by not suffering him to acquire the custom of self-indulgence, or to love finery and luxury, in the quest for which he might well squander his life when older and thus perish forever. Rather should he watch over him diligently from his earliest days, and permit none but a woman of virtue and religion to nurse and raise him; her diet should be of permitted things, for there is no blessing [baraka] in milk which originates in forbidden food, which, should a child be nourished on it, will knead his native disposition in such a way as to incline his temperament to wrongdoing.

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For the Love of Learning

From SISTERS Magazine

Almost all mothers will testify to being bombarded with neverending questions from their preschoolers, often to the point of aggravation. Children are born with a natural curiosity to learn about the world around them. Allah SWT has given human beings the ability, capacity, and most importantly the desire to explore the blessings He has given us. In other words, you can’t stop a child from learning. He is like a ravenous caterpillar, chomping up all the juicy leaves he comes across.

This is an apt description of a child entering school for the first time. He comes home bursting with tales of new discoveries and his eyes sparkle with an intrinsic joy that comes from learning. Fast forward a few weeks, months, years, and we may unfortunately find a completely different child. Tales of discoveries are replaced by complaints of heaping homework. The sparkle in his eyes is replaced by a dullness that speaks of apathy, stress and a yearning to get away from anything educational. When he comes home from school, all he wants to do is rest and not think about it, much like how an adult doesn’t want to think about work at the office once he gets home. Learning, which was once such a joy, has now become a job. What has contributed to this apathy towards learning?

Alfie Kohn, author of ‘Punished by Rewards’, blames it on our obsession with grades. According to Kohn, when a child is pressured to achieve good grades and avoid bad grades, his focus shifts from learning, exploration, risk-taking and discovery, to his performance. Instead of thinking of what he is doing, he is thinking of how well he’s doing. Thus, learning now takes a backseat to the pursuit of that A+. It no longer matters what it is he is learning. He’s so absorbed in cramming the information into his short-term memory storage for future regurgitation that he doesn’t really connect with the subject matter in the way he would if he were learning it for the sake of learning. The point becomes not to acquire knowledge, and delight in the process, but to satisfy the teacher by giving her the correct answer, in the form that she accepts, so as to give him full points for that question. If the child is not an achiever due to learning style or other reasons, the damage to his love of learning happens when he doesn’t attain what everyone is aiming for. He thus develops a negative assessment of his intellect and views learning as something that is not within his grasp.

The preoccupation with testing and grades led to the creation of study guides. Study guides were created to make possible the art of cramming information for temporary storage. Thrust into a system that requires them to perform, students rely on these study guides as if they are their salvation from bad grades. The system that necessitates students use them is cheating these very students out of the joy of learning. Questions such as ‘Will this come out on the test?” or “Do we need to know this?” are signs that learning has depreciated in value. The student has come to a point where he will only study what will come out on the test. Any more than that is extra and unnecessary. And as soon as the exams are done with, everything educational is retired to a dusty corner, never to be touched until the next school term starts.

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