Cultivating Positive Child Behaviour

Vol 3-Issue  Cultivating Positive behaviourTime-out

If your child is acting up, the best way to remove him from what he is doing is giving him some quiet time alone. This technique, known as a ‘time-out,’ is an effective, nonviolent way to shape behaviour. But there are some keys to successful time-outs:

(1)   Understand what time-out is and isn’t

Time-out isn’t a punishment, but rather a time to allow the child some time alone to help him calm down, as well as teach him without setting negative examples, such as shouting.

(2)   Implement time-outs, when your child is ready

Because toddlers find it hard to sit still, time-out for a fixed time won’t work and can result in a chasing game. So first, try to distinguish between your toddler’s natural inquisitiveness and willful disobedience. Distraction can work better with toddlers.

(3)   Show and tell

Time-out works best for your child between ages two and three, especially, if it is explained ahead of time. Explain to him what it means. Some parents find it useful to act this out or to use a doll or teddy bear to demonstrate taking time-out.

(4)   Be flexible on the specifics

With a toddler, your goal is simply to introduce the idea of an enforced break in the action so a minute or two is enough. The period should be long enough to refocus his attention, but not so long that he gets frustrated. One option may be to have him sit long enough to say his ABC’s once or twice, then redirect him to a different activity.

Along the same lines, some schools have introduced the concept of the ‘thinking chair.’ When a child misbehaves, he is asked to discontinue all actions and quietly settle into this chair and think about his behavior. This helps him gather composure and dispel negative energy.

Teaching your toddler to share

“Mine!” your toddler shouts, as he grabs a toy from his playmate, and eventually, one squabble leads to another. Before you scream with exasperation, remember that most toddlers are not developmentally ready to share. Sharing is a learned activity and takes time. So what to do:

(1)   Practice taking turns

You flip one page of your toddler’s bedtime book, and he flips the next. Or take turns pushing a toy car down a ramp. Try also the give-and-take games. You hug his teddy bear and give it to him to hug and return to you. He’ll begin to learn that taking turns and sharing can be fun, and that giving up his things doesn’t mean he’ll never get them back.

(2)   Don’t punish stinginess

If you tell your two years old that he’s selfish, or discipline him, when he doesn’t share, you’ll encourage resentment, not generosity. Never punish a child, especially a toddler, for not sharing.

(3)   Cheer little steps towards sharing

Toddlers sometimes show their possessions and even let others touch them without actually letting go of them. Encourage this ‘proto-sharing’ by telling your toddler, how nice it is that he’s showing his toy. Eventually, bolstered by your praise, he’ll feel secure enough to loosen his grip.

(4)   Lead by example

The best way for your toddler to learn generosity is by witnessing it. So share your ice cream with him. Use the word share to describe what you’re doing. Let him see you give and take, compromise, and share with others.

Role Reversal

Mother in lawBy an appreciative mother-in-law

I must share, how fortunate I am to have a wonderful daughter-in-law. Alhumdullilah! I know that it sounds unbelievable, but it is true. No, she is not retarded. Actually, she is a warm and caring girl, just the way she was, when I chose her for my son.

What is the secret behind this relationship? I can think of many, the obvious being Allah’s (swt) mercy on us, and the wonderful friends around us. They are caring souls, who gently yet immediately point out to me every time I am being insensitive, and they also remind me of my days as a Bahu (daughter-in-law).

I think that this is the common problem we mothers-in-law have. We have forgotten our days, when we were newly married, very sensitive, eager to please, but were not quite sure how! Especially, if we were married into a joint family, we had to be very careful not to tread on anyone’s toes. If we showed concern for our mothers-in-law, our sisters-in-law would brand us as ‘Chamchis’ (flatterers). If we would mind our own business, we would be called ‘cold fish.’ It just seemed like a no win situation! But I want to remind us all of what we pledged to ourselves at that time – that we would never do the same to our daughters-in-law!

We pledged that we would fuss over them, when they would be newly married, for they were coming into a strange home, with people, who have different ways of life. We would help them through their initial awkwardness, encourage them when they would make an effort, over look or gently explain when they would make a ‘faux pas.’

We pledged we would make them feel special, when they would conceive. We swore that we would let them name their babies and invite all their friends and relatives to the Aqeeqah. We said that we would not interfere in the children’s upbringing, especially where discipline was concerned. If they are old enough to be married and have children, then they are old enough to make their own decisions. They will be questioned in the Akhirah about their children – not us!

Narrated by Anas (rta), the Prophet (sa) said: “No one of you becomes a true believer, until he likes for his brother what he likes for himself.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

I know, you are probably thinking this is a Bahu (daughter-in-law) writing, pretending to be a Saas (mother-in-law). Let me now turn my attention to the Bahus (daughters-in-law).

Try to visualize yourself as the mother-in-law, which you will, Insha’Allah, be one day. How this beautiful, young girl comes into your son’s life, and all of a sudden, you cease to exist for him. How you endured the pangs of childbirth, the sleepless nights, stress during his exams, kept a stiff upper lip each time he was bullied. Where will you be then? Old age and redundancy is not a very exciting prospect, is it?  I bet all the mothers-in-law are misty-eyed and are nodding their heads.

Seriously girls, are you so insecure that if your husband comes home from work and first goes to meet his mother, you feel he loves you any less? If he doesn’t do so, you should encourage him to start. Remember, we are role models for our kids. Our attitude and behavior will set the trend for theirs. If they have seen their grandparents being given respect, they will do the same for their parents and elders.

Anas Ibn Malik (rta) reported that the Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “If a young man honours an older person on account of his age, Allah (swt) appoints someone to show reverence to him in his old age.” (Tirmidhi)

We are all humans and make mistakes; no one is perfect. If we want perfection in others, we should examine ourselves first. Are we perfect? Don’t we err? If we expect others to overlook our mistakes and forgive us, then we should do the same. Let’s not have any expectations from anyone, because we will always be disappointed.

How often we make excuses for our mother’s behaviour, where our Bhabis (brothers’ wives) are concerned; let us use that same compassion for our mothers-in-law.

Words of advice: Cultivate friendships with well-meaning, sensible, older women as I have with sincere younger friends. They will, Insha’Allah, help you understand your mothers-in-law. Don’t involve your mum, she will naturally be biased towards you and will then harbor ill feelings towards your ma-in-law, and that, definitely, will not help the situation.

Before signing off, I do not want to do any disservice to my late mother-in-law, may Allah (swt) rest her soul in peace. She was a wonderful mother-in-law as is my mother. I have been very fortunate to have such amazing role models, Alhumdullilah.

What are We Sowing?

Vol 3-Issue 1 What are we sowingWe reap what we plant. In a far away land, a long time ago, a boy was born blind. His widowed mother – the good Muslimah that she was – did not lose hope in her Dua and pray she did, continuously. A few years later, the boy’s sight returned. Al-humdulillah.

She realized that her village was not befitting for her son to excel in Islamic education, so with her son in hand, she migrated to Makkah. There she saw that he was being instructed in Quran and Hadeeth, the latter becoming the young man’s focus. He went out far and wide collecting Hadeeth and compiled a Hadeeth book that sits next to the Quran in authenticity, forgetting not his mother that had raised him well. His mother named him Muhammad Ibn Ismail, and many of us know him today as ‘Al-Imam Al-Bukhari.’

Consequently, how often is it that a farmer plants wheat and it comes out as a sunflower? You may say, never! For how can someone farm the seed of one plant and expect some other plant to grow. It just does not happen. Similarly, some parents leave their children waddling in the mud of television, music, movies, and disbelieving friends. Then when the child reaches grade 12 and asks to go to the final dance with a girlfriend, or when he enters university and stops praying, or when he gets married to a Kafir and himself becomes one, then the parents say: “What happened?”

It is the harvest of what we planted. If we do not raise our children to be obedient, where do we expect them to learn? If we do not practice Islam ourselves, who will be our children’s example? How do you teach a child to wake up for Fajr, when he sees his own father and mother sleeping in, day after day? You may ask, how do I raise my children to be good Muslims, obedient to their parents? Consider the following:

Firstly: Be wise – prioritize. Children will only hold in high esteem what parents give significance to. If straight A’s in school, achievements in sports and laurels for other extra curricular activities is what mom and dad will aim for their child and provide grounds to acquire, that is just what the child will earn. If parents pay no heed to their kid’s spiritual development alongside they cannot expect him / her to turn into a saint and obey Allah (swt) unconditionally. Simply because it was never a priority set out for him in his early life.

Hisham Ibn Abd Al-Malik missed a son of his during Jumuah one week. When he met him later, he asked him: “Why did you miss Jumuah?” His son replied: “My donkey couldn’t make the trip.” His father then said: “Couldn’t you have walked!” For an entire year after that, Hisham Ibn Abd Al-Malik made his son walk to Jumuah.

Secondly: The piety of the father and mother reaches the children. In the Quran, Allah (swt) recalls for us the story of Khidr (as), and how he rebuilt a wall for two orphans: “And as for the wall, it belonged to two orphan boys in the town. Under it was a treasure belonging to them and their father was a righteous man…”  (Al-Kahf 18:82)

Allah (swt) protected these orphans because of the piety of their father. In Tafseer it is said that it was their grandfather seven generations back!

Sa’eed Ibn Jubayr said: “I often lengthen my Salah for the sake of my son, perhaps Allah (swt) may protect him (because of it).”

The bitter pill is that if we want to reform our children, we start fixing ourselves first. When we shout at them with clenched fists, a throbbing pulse, and a foul language sprinkled with accusations, what kind of a role model do we present? An immature adult who clearly has things out of control but wants to show his kids who is the boss?

Sow the seeds of patience, forgiveness, and understanding at home. Quit being careless, judgmental or extremely uptight about trivial stuff. Insha’Allah, you will see spring in bloom. Just remember the law of nature ‘what you sow is what you reap.’ And no harvest comes overnight. It only appears in time.