Reflections on the self and habit-formation


I have been trying to research and learn more on disciplining and habit-formation lately. I have been trying to improve my relationship with my children, not that it is broken, but perphaps I might take it to the next level inshaAllah.

I’m trying to deal with some painful moments by staying calm and by listening to kids without reacting and by correcting them without overreacting. And subhanAllah, I find it so hard, so so hard. It is a constant struggle, a constant battle to keep improving one’s self. And I have a lot to improve. May Allah help us all mothers out there.

One of the things I wrote down in my notebook three weeks ago “Habit No. 1: Greet each child with a big smile and a hug in the morning. Gently ask ‘Did you sleep well’ and have some cuddly moment reciting morning dua together (Alhamdulillahiladhi ahyana ba3da ma amatana wa ilayhin nooshur)”. Even this small habit is taking me ages to stick to. On the days kids wake up too early or I am up all night with the baby, I come downstairs all grumpy. But need to keep working with patience, perseverance and supplication on forming this habit.

I should learn more about disciplining kids without spanking. As well as reading some great stories about manners and good actions, I often use the Islamic Concepts such as the angels Kiraman Katibin, the book of Illiyun, the reward of entering jannah etc. Often this works, Alhamdulillah. Only sometimes I am not patient enough… So in order to make disciplining easy, I am also trying to develop some good habits in the kids. But even to do that, my priority is to focus on myself. SubhanAllah, I have to reeducate myself and constantly strive for a better ‘myself’  in order to give kids ‘best’ tarbiyya I could. Like the old saying ‘Example is the best sermon’.

Some Habits to develop:

– The Habit of Prayer – Alhamdulillah, this one is formed, but needs a constant reminder and encouragement.

-The Habit of Attention – we need lots of improvement on this with both the girls, but more so with Sumayya.

– The Habit of Manners – keep working on this. Read stories, do activities and lead by an example.

– The Habit of Truthfullness – Alhamdulillah, they are ok. But maybe because they are too small to lie, they don’t know there could be an alternative to truth? maybe…

– The Habit of Taking turns – Alhamdulillah, both are ok most of the time, but need to keep working on that. Sometimes we, adults of the household, might do something to cause sibling jealousy unconciously. It could be a small act on our scales, but a big injustice to either of the children. Something as small as smiling/hugging one child whilst unconciously ignoring (or conciously in order to punish) the other child. Again, self-improvement.

– The Habit of Gratitude – again, constant reminder, make use of things around the house and keep working on that.

-The Habit of doing routine things without being told – I love this. When we did um An Numan’s ‘Birrul Walidayn – Being Good and Dutiful to Parents’ book on pre-school Islamic Studies, I got them pay attention to do something ‘without being told’. It could be putting on their shoes when we are getting ready to go outside, changing from pyjamas into day time clothes or washing teeth before bedtime and getting into their pyjamas. Alhamdulillah, it is such a relief not to repeat things over and over again, every single day. One day it was nearly bed time when Sumayya run upstairs and after awhile came downstairs. She was already in her pyjamas and I could tell she got washed too. She said “Mommy, close your eyes I will show you something”. I closed my eyes and she led me upstairs by hand. We went into her bedroom and she showed me her day time clothes nicely folded near her bed. I was so happy, Alhamdulillah. And she asked “Am I your ‘without being told’ girl today?” I said yes, “you always help me by doing things without being told”. So, since then every day at bed time I hint. I ask Safiyya “Why don’t you try to be ‘without being told’ girl tonight and go upstairs, make wudu and put your pyjamas on. I would be so happy”. This works for Sumayya, she instantly runs upstairs. Safiyya sometimes may need my assistance, but except some days where I do feel like washing her teeth, she is mostly independent. And we have lots of habits to be taken to this ‘without being told’ level.

This has been a random note. But as kids grow, I find it harder and harder to deal with hardships of giving the islamic tarbiyya. Guidance is a gift from Allah, but Adab/Tarbiyya is a gift from parents. May Allah help us all to deliver the high-quality tarbiyya our kids deserve. And May Allah make our kids good assets for this Ummah.

What are your thoughts and opinions on the following? And what habits are you trying to form on yourself and on your child/children? Please share below. I think we would all benefit from a fruitful discussion inshaAllah.

Sow an Act, Reap a Habit,

Sow a Habit, Reap a Character,

Sow a Character, Reap a Destiny.


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