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 I never thought of the idea to homeschool my child, rather I believed it was something out of date…I was so so wrong.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?”

SubhanAllah, patience is a virtue that needs constant training. We all have to keep working on that. I don’t think anyone can ever say I am patient. Just remember the story of Musa a.s and Khidr. Even the prophet a.s was not patient enough and couldn’t bear why Khidr a.s were doing the things he did in Musa’s presence. Or the story of Yunus a.s who run out of patience with his people and decided to leave his town. We all know how Allah swt tested him in whale’s womb.

Regarding husband’s approach, I would say being open and discussing the matter with him would help. Encourage him to be more patient. Read articles, watch islamic talks on child upbringing and discuss it together. In our family, I am the one who needs constant reminder to be patient. My husband is calmer. He told me once that “We are all sinners and we sin a lot. Yet Allah is the Most Merciful and The All forgiving. He forgives our sins. Why should we demand an absolute perfectness from a child (given the fact that we sin ourselves on daily basis) and why shall we not practice forgiveness (given the fact that Allah forgives all our sins if we repent sincerely)?”

One thing though, never discuss child’s or your husband’s actions in front of your 4 year old. She is old enough to understand things and even if you think she is busy playing in the background, she might be absorbing your conversation. Also, do not take your daughter’s side while daddy is telling her off for something. You might be undermining your husband and that might create doubts in child’s mind. Likewise, husband shouldnt say “You are too tough on her” or “You are too soft and lenient” in your daughter presence.

 “I am trying to understand and listen to my child’s nature and redirect her as much as possible according to the situation, while the second party tries to solve the situation by shouting and commanding, saying that child should obey a parent right on time, when the word of command is uttered–a child, he says, should be afraid of his father and this is how she respects him. I don’t agree with such approach, sometimes it’s really a struggle…but I see my daughter becoming agressive and disobeying three times more in such cases. It’s due to his own uprbinging I believe, and he is sure that is very effective.

Should we shout at children? Well, there is no clear cut answer to this. It differs from family to family, from situation to situation. But 80% time I find shouting is counter-productive and doesn’t achieve the purpose. We should try to reflect why we shout in the 1st place. One thing that helps me is writing down such situations- keep a diary and on those days when you lose control, shout, smack – find a time later and write down exactly what happened and how you could have solved this dispute differently. It’s amazing how almost each time you end up saying to yourself “My God, it is so pathetic. How could I possibly lose control over such a thing?”

Also, I was researching this concept of “shouting” not long ago. It is said there is a different between shouting and raising one’s voice. And I was reflecting on my experiences of “shouting” in the past. I certainly never scream or yell at my children. And I think most of my shouting could be classified as “raising my voice”, inshaAllah :).

If you shout to discipline, the best way of disciplining a child is by establishing a habit and routine in her/his daily life. There are certain rules that need to be obeyed. For example, in our household, they have to listen to mommy/daddy within 3 initial trials. That means I can only repeat my request maximum of three times, with 2-3 minute long intervals between my each request. If they do what they are told to do after 1st – I call it a “gold”, give them kisses, hugs and thank them for being so nice for mommy. If they do after 2nd time, it’s still ok, but they could have done better. And 3rd request is the last. If they still don’t get on with what they are told to do after 3rd one, the consequences will apply.

Usually there are some consequences known to all or I declare one right at that moment. If they are fighting over pen/pencil/notebook and don’t want to work out how to share it, I put that item on top of cupboard where both can’t reach. If Sumayya is slow and takes too long to get changed into her pajamas, I refuse to read aloud at bedtime. If they don’t tidy up after their reading/writing/coloring projects, I say I will put all the books/pens/crayons in a box and send to some girls in Uzbekistan who will look after them lol. Usually this “sending things away to an ideal owners” works best, alhamdulillah, as they try to be those owners who I describe in great detail.

Make the rules known to a child. For example, our daughters have to tidy up after themselves. These may include putting the dishes in the sink after eating, tiding up the pencils/crayons after colouring, putting away books after reading, putting the clothes away after changing, putting shoes in the shoe box, never leave their very own things lying around where one may walk. i.e doorways, on the floor. There are some things that need to be kept downstairs only and something that should stay upstairs only. No food upstairs except fruits and some snacks while homeschooling upstairs. No clothes should be brought downstairs etc.

“Should children be afraid of their parents?”

I think they should be in a way that they try not to break certain rules out of fear of displeasing mom or dad. (Likewise, when older they wouldn’t want to break certain rules of Islam out of fear of displeasing Allah swt. They should be inclinded to do more good deeds to please Allah swt, inshaAllah). My eldest is very sensible. Usually she knows what makes me happy and what makes me upset. We always say we should do what Allah likes and Allah likes when kids listen to their parents. She tries her best to keep me happy and is very much afraid of making me unhappy. My 2nd is so different. She is not afraid of me in a sense that she is not afraid of making me sad. The statement, “if you do this it makes me upset” has not much influence on her. She is, however, afraid of consequences, losing her favorite things, missing on bed time story etc. Even then, she is not afraid, she easily comes to terms with her consequences, punishments etc (in a nutshell, she is not bothered much at this age). So, I only have to be patient with her and keep drilling the concept of “Allah likes if you..”, “mommy dislikes if you…” “angels writing your good and bad deeds” etc.

“Help me with your advice, please. What should be my best response and how it is still possble to cooperate with child productively between the two different parenting approaches.

I thank you in advance for your time, sister

Jazakum Allahu Khairan!”

Regarding parenting approaches, we need a lot of learning ourselves. Surely, the family we were brought up will have some influence on our own parenting skills. Alhamdulillah, our parents did whatever they could to raise us up righteously. But we cant always rely on our parents’ parenting methods/practices/beliefs. We can not educate our children without re-educating ourselves in the process.

As a mom, I am growing with my children and constantly learning new things from them or with them. I am always questioning my own actions, trying new things, learning what is effective and what doesn’t work and what impact will my words have on their mental and physical well-being etc. I discuss these behavior issues with other sisters I know, read, reflect etc

I would say try to watch videos by some sheikhs ( namely by Hamza Yusuf, Yasir Qadhi, Nouman Ali Khan) on parenting skills such as Parenting with purpose and Nurturing Childhood.

Here are 8 lectures by Hesham al Awadi on “Children around the Prophet” – http://www.kalamullah.com/children.html

Read articles such as Golden principles of raising children.

And let us just educate ourselves. If we see disobeying in child’s part, we should look for solutions in our own behaviour patterns, daily routine and habits. A dear sister reminded me recently that ‘Islam is a state of becoming not a state of being… Each day you must strive to improve and better yourself – and you will improve’. And if we can improve ourselves, then inshaAllah we can certainly improve our children.

With that I finish sister, I hope this helps you inshaAllah. This is my notes on behaviour tips done . If you agree, I would publish this exchange anonymously as a note. MashAllah, there are some great sisters out there with 5, 6, 7 kids, expert in behaviour tips and maybe would be able to help more by leaving a comment.

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