Do you beat yourself to be a people-pleaser?

no-people-pleaserYou cannot always be a people pleaser.
I was always among those who cannot deny or say ‘No’ to people; and end up creating lots of stories to get away from the situation.

Being helpful is nice and right indeed, but letting yourself down in order to make others happy is not the right thing to do.

I usually agree to do something, because I don’t have enough emotional courage to refuse. But once I agree, I find myself in real distress and burn all of my good deeds by back biting.
One of my colleagues and a good friend guided me in this regard; making me realize that I have a right to say ‘No’ to things that I find inappropriate. Self esteem and self respect are the two basic elements which make up our whole personality. Being helpful and kind is necessary to feel content, but feeding our own respect is way more necessary.
Therefore, I would suggest don’t let yourself get knocked down by thinking what people might think; be courageous and uphold your personal views.
Be firm on your decision, yet humble. You don’t need to be rude, or use harsh tone to say ‘No’; you can be polite and consistent.
Take ‘No’ as a powerful tool which may help you in using your positive energy in a right way.

Be firm, not defensive or overly apologetic; raise yourself, raise your esteem!

Raising confident Muslim kids

confidentIt is our fault as parents, when our children begin to panic, have self-doubt and are unable to express themselves. I say this because- in this challenging and fast paced world, children are not given the necessary attention from home to make them confident enough to face the challenges of the outside world. The home is the first port of attachment of every child and when it is damaged, their confidence is largely affected.

It is our duty as parents to imbue confidence in our children in order to make them productive human beings. And, this must start from a very tender age so that they bloom with confidence and can aspire to fly high. When a child is loved and accepted for who he/she is, they develop confidence which enrich their productivity level. Such a child is capable of coping with external challenges, and can live life to its fullest.

The following are few tips that would help us, as parents, to play our roles in enhancing confidence in our children from an early age:

  1. It is important that we always praise our children even when they perform below average in an exam. Instead of yelling at them, we must adopt nice words like, ‘Don’t worry dear, if you give it your best shot, next time you would perform better Insha’Allah’. Words like this show our children that they are loved. And, it teaches them how to react to failure. Today, we hear about children who commit suicide, or become withdrawn out of fear of their parents’ reaction when they fail. We surely do not want such for our kids Insha’Allah.
  2. When our kids deserve admonishing, it should not be done publicly. A large number of us are guilty of this. Children are prone to act silly at times- it is our duty as adults to be mature in our reaction. We shouldn’t be so angry that we smack them in malls, or in front of other people. In fact, no child should be admonished in the presence of other siblings.
  3. Never make your child feel useless by the way you treat them. Grant them equal treatment. Do not love one child above the other. This is generally unfair. No matter how unruly a child might be, it is your duty to treat them with the same treatment as others. Sometimes, when you treat them too unfairly, you push them farther from you. And, they become more rebellious. It is our fault, if our children become so unruly to a point that is unbearable.
  4. Every time we speak with them, we should be polite and speak with respect. Please, thank you, JazakumullahKhairan are words we should make use of regularly. We should never use swear words. Apart from the fact that it hurts the child, the child begins to use those words too.
  5. Dear parents, please don’t expect your child to behave like adults. Treat them within their age group. Let them act like the child they are. Please, don’t expect them to be smart and neat at all times. They are only children. When they want to be carried on the shoulder, please do that for them. After all, when they come of age, we wouldn’t have to do that and might even miss it. Don’t take their childhood away from them prematurely.
  6. Sometimes, your children are happy when you seek their opinion in making a decision. Let’s say you want to buy a scarf, it wouldn’t do you any harm if you ask your child the colour he/she thinks you should go for. Yes try this! The child automatically feels wanted and loved.
  7. Stick their achievements on the wall at home. Schools do this to show they are proud of them. Aren’t we proud of them too? After all they are our children.
  8. Instead of words, why not try using more of actions to teach them. Let me tell you this, they imitate your actions in your absence. So, we should be careful what we do in their presence. When they see you pray, read the Quran and do good deeds, they follow your footsteps. This means you teach them to follow your example.
  9. Teach your children before the public does. Teach them to handle mobile devices responsibly. When they ask questions, satisfy their curiosity- else it would be satisfied outside the home. Talk to them about marriage from age ten. Don’t fret! They know about it already from age nine. Break the ice! Say something about it. You just might not go into intimate details at their age.
  10. Do not for once shout at them. I feel shouting is only meant for someone down there on the scale of relevance. Our children don’t belong there, refrain from doing this. Yes! Sometimes they get us so angry that we want to let it all out. But, pause a minute to examine the situation, and remember that he/she is only a child.
  11. Pray for your children. Make Dua for them. By doing this, we teach them to pray for us too.
  12. Repeatedly tell your child how much you love them. Treat them like pearls. Hug them tightly, kiss them and complement them. Tell them how beautiful or handsome they look. Of course, it increases their confidence.

We should begin to prod our children gently as heavy-handed method of parenting would damage their confidence. I know that there are some parents whose deeds develop confidence in their children, but the truth is, they are the minority. I pray that we serve as role models for the kids in our lives; teaching them through example how to be confident, and achieve great feats in this life and the hereafter. May Allah (swt) bless our efforts, and guide our children to be the comfort that we desire. I pray they grow up to be the apple of our eyes. May Allah (swt) help us to be parents who would raise confident children that would be a blessing to this Ummah. Ameen.

(Part 2) Parents as Counsellors

Counseling-triennale[Continued from here]

What are the opportunities/signs of counseling for parents?

If the child appears:

  1. Unhappy
  2. Aloof, uninterested/withdrawn
  3. Unusually reserved
  4. Seems nervous and afraid
  5. Shows unusual behaviour or looks disturbed

Even under the above tremendous pressures, each child has a different absorption capacity. As a parent, we need to develop such a bond with them that we can read their unsaid words, silent body language, etc. If we suspect some turmoil, we should be available for him at the cross roads. As the right moment occurs, he may share his miseries with us. We can’t be over inquisitive or nosey- especially if the child is older and a self-driven individual who wants to assess his own developmental capacity. He may share with parents once the trouble is overcome as he reflects back and relieves himself. It is a moment of growth and wisdom for him.

What does it mean to be your kid’s counselor?

  1. Your children feel comfortable to open their personal matters before you. (They can unload the emotional garbage which might include crying, blaming, accusing, swearing, etc.)
  2. They feel safe to share their worries and most personal concerns with you. (He needs to feel heard completely with no hurdles, judgments, rebukes, threat of punishment, negative reaction from your side as a parent.)
  3. They consider you wise and trustworthy and therefore value your advice. (Perceived credibility is the actual credibility.)
  4. You can easily know when your child is disturbed and need support. (He might withdraw, stop eating, slam doors, look moody, try to be aloof, etc.)
  5. All of you feel good and relaxed after the session. (The emotional strength of the parent needs to be developed so that he/she doesn’t end up needing a counseling session after hearing out his/her child’s worries.)

 The counseling framework for parents
1. Prepare yourself
Do your mental homework before approaching the child. Imagine all possible problems and their causes, the kid’s perception of the problem, expectation of the people around the kid from him, etc.

2. Spare time for a session
Find a peaceful place and choose the best time.

3. Be happy and stay calm
Tend to your own emotional landscape so as not to react before the kid when he is unloading his emotions before you. It is essential to conquer your own mood first.

4. Encourage your child to express his problem
Convey care and warmth through your body language, facial expressions and tone, etc.

5. Listen actively
This means no interruption, no pretend listening while you are multi-tasking, etc.

6. Rephrase what you understand
This is important so that the child’s intention and purpose is understood with clarity and no miscommunication happens.

7. Acknowledge the feelings of your child
Albert Einstein once lamented: “Why is it that nobody understands me, yet everybody likes me.” Taking care of your child is easy. Taking care of your child’s feelings is challenging.

8. Ask about the causes and expectations
Analyze the problem and situation with your child. Don’t offer an immediate solution or suggestion yourself.

9. Give confidence and offer helpful tips
Let the child take a responsible decision himself.

Lastly and most importantly, children will learn best, when they are trusted, valued, owned, encouraged and made comfortable. This does not mean that we surrender to their whims and fancies, let them disown their responsibilities, bend and break the family rules. It certainly means that we treat them with respect and empower them to take value-based decisions in life.

Adapted by Rana Rais Khan from an interactive workshop at L2L Academy Karachi

Heal with Love

parenMy boy is a wonder. Yes, of course, I am biased! And it’s still not just me; to be honest, many other parents, teachers and everyone else we meet appreciate and comment on his energy. However, it was not so before. He was cranky, ignorant, distracted, selfish, insensitive and afraid – but not anymore.

I have been blessed with two sons. The elder one is a sweet, loving and intelligent kid, who never gave me a hard time; he understood easily, listened and acted, as he was told to, and was an apple of the eyes of the whole family. I thought I was a great parent, until I gave birth to my younger son, who became my greatest parenting challenge.

There is no one way to be a perfect parent but lots of ways to be good. We just have to try to manage our emotions, while sleep deprived, and commit not to yell, stay calm and choose love and hard work. Yet, no one is ever satisfied and is always coming up with advice.

My younger son was born with a skin disease called eczema. It might not seem to be a big issue for others, but for me it proved to be a life-changing experience. He would get small, red, itchy pimples on his body. My husband and I thought it was some allergy, but it was later diagnosed as eczema. On scratching those pimples, they would turn into blisters and get infected; after medication, they would disappear, leaving a black mark on his body. Since our elder son had no had such problems, it was a major issue for us.

We took him to almost every dermatologist we heard of. We tried homeopathy, allopathic, herbal and all alternative treatments – they all worked for as long as we used the medicines; the pimples would disappear, only to reappear a few days later.

Kids at school were not friendly with him. They made fun of him and ridiculed him. Parents and all other people stared at him, as if he was some alien. They would ask him questions that he was too young to answer. All these experiences disturbed him, and he became an introvert. The marks were not on his body only but on his mind, too. He had disturbed nights – not only because of itching, but also due to behaviour of others to him. People differentiated him from the rest, and he became a special child for them.

Being only five years old, he was too young to filter, why was he treated differently. Why were others scared of him? And why was he made fun of? He became aggressive, hyper, agitated and abusive; in short, the very opposite of his elder brother. This became a great parenting challenge for me.

Along with medication, I tried to counsel him about why he was different. I tried being strict, hard, harsh and all other strategies that I read about in different articles on the net and heard about from others. I tried reasoning with him but I failed to realize that he was too young to comprehend whatever I told him. I was agitated and agonized to watch him being mocked, to witness him having sleepless nights and mood swings. Despite our explanations, nothing could take him out of the angry state that he was always in – the defiant state, where he refused to eat what was given, to go out to make friends or play, to go out wearing shorts even in the hottest weather. Nothing seemed to work. I then changed my attitude towards him and his tantrums – I made love my weapon.

I changed my regimen completely by showering him with total love – no yelling, no punishment, no shouting and no beating became my rule and… it worked. Now, his tantrums have decreased in number. And after each tantrum, he apologizes. He has become more receptive to what I say, more friendly, more energetic and less worried about what others say. The black marks are now a source of pride for him that only he has them; he now takes it as a special gift of God bestowed upon him. At five years of age, he goes to the mosque himself, without being prompted. It took a lot of patience on my, his father’s and the elder brother’s part, but now my special child is like any other normal kid.

We can’t educate others, but having had several heartfelt conversations with my husband and elder son along with my little bundle of joy, we have witnessed real change in him. The difficult moments have been an opportunity for him and me to connect better.

The ultimate parenting weapon in any relationship is love.

The love I showed him with, the love, with which I treated him and the love I gave him has brought us closer to each other – now, he faces the world with confidence. With Allah’s (swt) help and my endless love, I took care of him and healed him spiritually, mentally and physically.

Being a parent is not easy – I guess, it is the most challenging and toughest job.

How to Raise our Children

serviceLife is a precious gift from Allah (swt) to all human beings. It is upon us as to how we spend this gift, whether we earn the blessings of Heaven or the torment of Hell fire. The truth is that we all should spend our life according to the Quran and Sunnah in order to make our life, our homes and our society- peaceful.

As parents, we have a huge responsibility on our shoulders to raise our children and so we put in endless efforts to bring them up in an Islamic manner. But the question is that even after all the efforts put in by the parents, why don’t our children learn good Islamic manners?  After a session of contemplation and thorough survey, I ended up with the answer that since we as elders are not implementing those things that we teach our children in our lives, then how can we expect them to act upon them. And if we just say something that does not reflect through our deeds and actions, then how will our kids learn the application of those teachings in their life? It’s basically “Walk the Talk Rule” that should be followed! Hence, before anything else, we have to take care of this issue.

Children are great imitators. Therefore we should give them something great to imitate. And the most important point to remember in raising kids is that we should not scold them if they do any mistake. Instead we should stay calm and try to teach them with great love. This will build our respect in their mind. And if they start respecting us, they will respect other people also.

A mother is better than a thousand teachers. It is said that home is the first school of a child. So we should make our home the house of Allah (swt) by instilling Islamic teachings in it and inculcating them in every single aspect of our life.

When a kid is in early childhood, he or she is very sensitive and is building a whole personality which thoroughly depends upon what environment he or she gets at home and what lessons are being taught. So we should give them self confidence by treating them nicely in front of others. We should trust them so that they never lie to us and make ourselves their best friends so they love us. And whenever we do something for them, our intention should be that we are doing for the sake of Allah (swt) and not to receive any kind of future reward from our kids. As a result, you will see how Allah (swt) helps you and makes life easier for you.

There is no better companion for a kid than a mother- the most pure and sincere relationship in the world. And there is no better guide and mentor for a child than his father, but everything should be done in a limit and only for Allah (swt).

We must appreciate kids when they achieve something. This will make them happy and give a robust to their self-esteem and help them put trust in their own abilities for further achievements.

Little angels are interested in stories so we should tell them the stories of our prophets, his companions (Sahaba) and the Islamic history so that the love for Islam nurtures in them.

These are the little things I feel that if we implement and apply them, our lives will be very peaceful and our kids will Insha’Allah become good human beings and true Muslims.

How to Think BIG!

thinking bigEveryday everywhere young people take on new jobs. Each wishing to enjoy the success associated with reaching the top. Yet, they believe that climbing such heights is impossible, not realizing that there are steps that can lead them to the goal. But a small number of these youth have substantial belief in reaching the top and the steps that they need to take.

How to develop the power of belief?

  1. Islam teaches a believer to be optimistic. To think success rather than failure even at times when we are faced with difficult situations. In other words, a believer should think, “I will win, Insha’Allah” and not, “I will probably lose.” Pessimism leads the mind to think in the way of failure. Remember that pessimism is a gift from Satan or Iblees, whose name denotes hopelessness.
  2. Remind yourself regularly that you are better than you think you are. Successful believers are just ordinary people who have developed belief in Allah and the abilities He has given to them. Allah states: “Verily, We have created man in the best form.” (At-Tin 95:4)
  3. Allah wants to elevate the status of humankind and ensure its accomplishment and therefore He sent His Prophets and books. So, by thinking big according to the teachings of Allah (swt) and his Prophet (sa) the size of your success will be determined by the size of your belief. Think of little goals and expect little achievements. But think of big goals and you will win big. Big ideas and big plans are often easier. It is well to respect your leader and learn from him/her. But don’t just resolve to be like him or her, rather believe you can surpass and go beyond. .

Building confidence through your memory bank

  1. Deposit only positive thoughts in your memory bank. Everyone encounters plenty of unpleasant situations but successful people do not give it a second thought, whereas unsuccessful people brood over them so be among the successful and specialize in putting positive thoughts into your memory bank.
  2. A real smile melts away the opposition of others, and instantly too. So, smile Big. Harness the power of smiling. Remember Allah’s Messenger (sa) had a smiling face.
  3. With a positive, optimistic and cooperative attitude, a person with an IQ of 100 will succeed and earn more money and respect, than a negative, pessimistic, uncooperative individual with an IQ of 120. 60% dreaming and the rest do the trick. The biggest resolution would be the ‘Attitude’ – Think and dream creatively. Creative thinking is simply finding new, improved ways to do anything. Success at home, work, in community or just anything. For this, the basic truth is ‘Believe in yourself and the things that you can do – Believe in yourself and the world is Yours’.

Practice positive imagery

Each day spend some time in positive visualization of your goals and new life changes. Use your imagination for only through use does it sharpen. You can travel on the back of any thought you have in mind. Simply catch your thoughts, relax, tilt your eyes up just about twenty degrees and there you are.

Begin incorporating the following points in your attitude

  1. Overcome the fear of failure: When fear controls your actions, it takes charge. The only way you can overcome fear is to face it and attack it with full vengeance with one blow.
  2. Let your confidence soar: You must have the “I can do this” attitude if anything BIG happens to come your way. Confidence is more evident in a person’s actions, thoughts and emotional calm during stormy times.
  3. Don’t let small and negative people get in the way of your BIG ideas.

Tips for Better Thinking

  1. Suspend judgment when hearing something new.
  2. Explain things to others using their thinking patterns rather than yours.
  3. Remember that arguing is one of the least effective ways of changing someone’s mind. You don’t always have to fight to win.
  4. Use the language of leaders and people will be more inclined to treat you as one.
  5. Remember that your sense of humour is your stress barometer; when it seems like there’s nothing to laugh about that means you are overstressed.
  6. Constantly remind yourself that self-worth is not something you have to prove, or a conclusion you arrive at, it’s an assumption you start from.
  7. Spend more time reading than you spend watching television.
  8. Constantly monitor your self-talk; prefer positive language.
  9. Shun toxic people and those who push negative thinking; remember that you can fire anybody from your life.
  10. Practice positive “censorship;” you can choose to concentrate your attention on positive messages.
  11. Stay out of other people’s dramas; don’t become part of the victimology triangle.
  12. Always be learning; try to discover something new every day.
  13. Don’t kill ideas when you first hear them.Use the “P.I.N.” formula (Positive first, then Interesting, then Negative aspects).
  14. Don’t mistake a haphazard “brain-dump” for a conversation; explain your ideas clearly; use a discursive strategy to escort others to your truth.
  15. Always be ready to smile in the next second, and let it show on your face.
  16. In Thinking Big: The Keys to Personal Power and Maximum Performance, world-famous success expert Brian Tracy will take you beyond the limits of everyday thought, where you will tap into the vast resources of your mind and unlock unlimited potential.

By thinking big, you’ll become so confident, determined, and persistent that you can achieve any goal – nothing or no one will be able to slow you down or alter your course, Insha’Allah!

Success is an inside job. It’s a state of mind. It begins with you and is soon reflected in the world around you. By thinking big, you become a bigger person. By dreaming big dreams, you become a leader. By making plans to accomplish your goals, you take control of your life. And by practicing the ideas taught in Thinking Big, you can and will become unstoppable, by Allah’s Grace.

Here is an exercise to measure your true size.

  1. Determine your five chief assets.
  2. Invite some friends who will give you an honest opinion.
  3. Next under each asset, write the names of three persons you know who have achieved large success, but who do not have the asset to as great a degree as you.

Big thinkers are specialists in creating positive, optimistic pictures in their own minds and in the minds of others.