Successful Parenting and You: Golden Tips to be at Finger Tips

Image Courtesy www.muslimmatters.org

 

Allah (swt) has granted great status to parents- not only because they bring the children in this world, but they are raising future Muslims. Children are the responsibility of parents, and Allah (swt) will ask about that responsibility on the Day of Judgement. Parenting is not an easy job, and can’t be learned from any book- one can learn it from experience only.

Respect

Mostly, the word ‘respect’ is associated with elders only. But, children also have the right to be respected.

Sometimes, parents scold or shout at their children in front of friends and cousins. In such situations, children face shame and humiliation. Parents can scold their children, but everything has a way to be done.

“Don’t yell at your children, when you yell the message is lost. Speak calmly for words to be heard, and they’ll retain the message better”. (Mufti Ismail Menk)

Give respect to your children to gain respect. When children feel respected, it boosts their self-esteem.

Love

All parents love their children, but only a few express that love. Parents should express their love to children by actions live kissing, hugging and complimenting them. One can learn from Prophet Muhammad’s (sa) behaviour with kids also. Prophet (sa) also said:

“He is not from us who does not show mercy to the young, and does not honour the old.” (Tirmidhi)

Comparison Is Not Good

Parents compare their child with children of the same age group. This shouldn’t be done. Every person has its own abilities and talents. The comparison may lead to wrong way. They should encourage their children for doing good things and build their confidence. What happens next after this comparison is a child starts to copy others- instead of discovering his/her hidden talent and polishing own skills.

“As parents, we must learn from our children and guide them in daily lives. Parenting goes both ways- it’s a give and take relationship”.  (Mufti Ismail Menk)

Give Attention

Sometimes parents complain that my child doesn’t pay attention to whatever I say. He/she does not bother to listen. I think, somewhere, it is their fault because a child seeks full attention of parents which they fail to give. This often occurs when mothers are helping their young children to do homework, their finger of one hand is on a copy of child, and the other hand is on a smart phone.

Also, elders don’t listen to younger ones whole heartedly; or do not let them complete because they are taking a lot time to convey their matter. Parents should give full attention to their children, and let them talk. They should spend quality time with them indulging in activities like storytelling, cooking their favourite food, playing games.

“Spending time with children is more important than spending money on them’’. (Mufti Ismail Menk)

Avoid Nicknames

Don’t call your children by nicknames like “Munnu” or “Baby”. Name has an impact on personality. If you call your child by a nickname, then avoid calling by that name in the presence of his/her friends. Sometimes these nicknames embarrass children in a gathering of friends and school.

Parents are Role Models

I heard my 4-year-old cousin saying: “Mama, I want to be like you. I want to wear earrings like you and have long hair like yours.” This shows that children follow their parents, and want to be like them. So, that’s why parents should be careful of their actions and words in front of children- because these little ones are great observers as well.

 

 

Inculcating the Akhirah Attitude in Children

aakhirah

We are living in times of Fitnah. According to Ibn al-Arabi: “Fitnah means testing, Fitnah means trial, Fitnah means wealth, Fitnah means children, Fitnah means Kufr, Fitnah means differences of opinion among people, and Fitnah means burning with fire.” (Lisan al-Arab by Ibn Manzoor)

It is the responsibility of parents to make their children focused on the Akhirah. When children are referred to as Fitnah in the Quran, it means that the parents are being tested as to how much they can keep their children Akhirah-focused and how far can they keep the Dunya from their hearts.

Before enumerating the techniques that can be helpful in teaching kids about the Hereafter, we have to look into the Marshmallow Experiment conducted on children aged four and five, which they remembered into their young adulthood. The experiment was based on delayed gratification, which is recognized by researchers as a critical skill for prosperity. Basically, the children were offered a small reward in the form of a marshmallow or a cookie and simultaneously offered two rewards if they could wait for a short period. The results indicated that those who could delay gratification due to greater self-control were found to be healthier in adulthood and had better life outcomes.

Examination

On and off, whenever children have their assessments or tests at schools, parents should find an opportunity to talk about Akhirah and the temporary nature of this life. Physical bonding with the child is extremely important; hence, a mother can embrace the child and explain the parable of this life as a test and this world as an examination hall, pointing out that that the Quran and the Sunnah are just like the syllabus to prepare. The attitude of the parent has to be so loving and kind that the children actually believe and trust the parents. If they delay gratification, or do not watch those cartoons or give up on any bad habits, they can be sure that delaying will be worth in the next life.

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Ask the Savvy Parent: Mealtimes are Wartimes

Image courtesy http://mommabird.net/

Image courtesy http://mommabird.net/

Dear Savvy Parent,

How do I get my 4-year-old son to not be such a picky eater, and also eat on his own without my husband or I having to feed him?

Dear parent,

First off, you are not alone in this. There are many parents who face similar challenges. It is important to remember that picky eating is temporary. If you don’t make it a big deal, it will usually end before school-going age.

Change will not happen overnight. It will take some time for you to see any changes or improvements. Don’t give up and always be consistent. Relax and take it easy. The key is consistency.

Here are some proactive things you can do to deal with fussy eating and help your child learn to eat on his own and try new foods:

  1. Offer the same foods for the whole family. Don’t be a “short-order cook,” by making a different meal for your child. Never cook something for your child that you would not eat yourself. Most children like to eat the meals their parents are eating.
  2. Make sure your child eats with the whole family. There is no point making him or her sit and eat, while no one else is. You would end up fighting a lost battle.
  3. Most kids like to try foods they help make. Encourage your children to help you prepare meals and snacks. Let them help you with the grocery shopping. Teach your child to tear lettuce or add veggie toppings to pizza, for example. You will be surprised what you can get children to eat if they have helped to prepare it.
  4. Try to make meals a stress-free time. Talk about fun and happy things. If arguments often happen at mealtimes, your child may develop unhealthy attitudes toward food.
  5. Offer two choices. Rather than asking “Do you want broccoli for dinner?” ask: “What would you like for dinner: broccoli or cauliflower?”
  6. Use the Bowl of Bites Method to decide the number of bites the child must eat.  At times, trying to negotiate the number of bites can be never ending and lead to arguments. This is where the bowl comes in (explained below).
  7. Your children will be okay even if they don’t eat a meal now and then. Children never starve themselves. If they are not eating, leave them be. Make sure snacks are out of reach, though. Carry on with your meal. Eventually when they do get hungry and want food bring out the plate of food that was not eaten during mealtime. Eventually they will give in and eat it. At this time, give them verbal reinforcement.

Bowl of bites
For some parents, establishing a required number of bites can help. Select a reasonable number of minimum bites, for example, five. Two or three bites are not enough. In a bowl, keep about 10 pieces of small paper, folded in half, with a number written inside them. Have a variety of numbers ranging from the minimum (in this case, six) to about nine. During mealtime say, “Let’s see what the bowl of bites decides for us.” Allow your child to pick out a piece of paper and read the number on it. Whatever the number says is the number of bites that are required to be eaten. If your child is the type to go back and forth negotiating to get his way, the best way to get around such a situation to remove yourself out of the negotiation. These “bowls” can also be adapted to be used in many other situations.

For a child who will not eat on his or her own, the bowl of bites can also help by establishing the number of bites the child has to eat on his own. In this case, the numbers could start smaller such as three. Alternatively, taking turns can help. Your child takes a bite on his or her own and then you feed them the next bite and so on. Eventually, as they get comfortable with this, you can feed less and less bites.

Change will not happen overnight. It will take some time for you to see any changes or improvements. Don’t give up and always be consistent. Relax and take it easy. The key is consistency.

Insha’Allah, I hope this helps. Happy Parenting!

The Savvy Parent

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Ask The Savvy Parent: Aggression in Toddlers

Dear Savvy Parent

My 2.5-year-old son is unable to express himself. He hits continuously till others respond and others think he’s a bully. All I want is to help him but how? How to stop him and what should I do to help him express himself with words, not actions?

When he’s not bothering others, give him lots of attention and praise so he eventually learns that negative behaviour will not work and will not get him any needed attention.

Dear parent

First off, he is not a bully. He is just 2.5 years old and is still learning. He’s not trying to be mean; rather, it sounds like attention-seeking behaviour. If this is the case (and you know best), one should not give any attention when he behaves this way. He seems to be doing it because he can’t get the attention he wants by behaving well; so he misbehaves to get attention. Children will get attention any way they can. They prefer positive attention, but if negative is the only way to get it, they will purposefully do perform actions to get that negative attention. The way to nip this in the bud is to give no attention when he misbehaves. He knows he is doing something wrong; use minimal words and remove him from the situation. When he’s not bothering others, give him lots of attention and praise so he eventually learns that negative behaviour will not work and will not get him any needed attention.

If you are in a public place, such as a park, you have to be more mindful and keep an extra eye on your son. Intervene if he starts to hit another child. Use language such as “Be gentle” and show him how. Sometimes children at a young age don’t mean to be aggressive; sometimes they touch out of love and because they are still learning to control their body it can be rough. So give him a chance to be gentle. If he is really being disruptive, redirect him away from that area of the park to some other area. If he has had several chances and is still not listening, then it’s time to let him know that if he cannot behave, you will take him home. Making sure you follow through with this.

If he is hitting without any reason, then you need to take him away from the child or children he is hurting and find something else for him to be busy with. 

As far as hitting or bothering other children, since they are also young, the adults (you in this case) need to intervene and may need to remove your son from this situation. First of all, try to identify why he is hitting. Did the other child do something? Did he hit him first? If this is the case, then you need to teach your son the appropriate language, such as “Please stop!”, “I don’t like that” and resolve the situation together.

If he is hitting without any reason, then you need to take him away from the child or children he is hurting and find something else for him to be busy with. Have a brief and calm conversation and let him know that this is not kind; if he hits someone again, you will remove him and he will not be able to play with the other children. Don’t elaborate any other reminders; when it happens, you can simply say, “You are hurting (name of child), so now you have to leave and do something else. Redirect him towards something else that he can be busy with. The next time after that, you don’t need any words. After a few times of doing this, he will learn that you are not giving him attention for this negative behaviour.

Yelling at your child will not resolve the issue. One has to be calm and level-headed. 

Remember to give him LOTS of positive attention when he’s not doing this. This way he learns that he gets attention ONLY when he’s behaving well. When he’s misbehaving, don’t say anything and don’t make eye contact because all of this is attention and the point is to NOT give attention in ANY FORM when he’s trying to seek it doing something inappropriate. Depending on the situation you either need to help resolve the conflict or redirect the behaviour. Be mindful of your reaction and tone as well. Children learn by example. Make sure you are using a calm manner to discipline your child. Yelling at your child will not resolve the issue. One has to be calm and level-headed. It is difficult, I know, but take a deep breath before you act and Insha’Allah, it will get easier to handle.

With regard to your son learning to express himself, he is still young and learning language. Teach him appropriate words and the correct language. Be a role model of positive language and help elicit the words from him. For example, short phrases like “Milk, please” “I don’t like that”, “No, thank you”, “I want ____”, “More, please” etc. Have him repeat after you before you do what he wants. Do this throughout his daily route; this way he will begin to pick up the language. Encourage him to use the language and reward him when he does. It is even more important to make sure he at least attempts to use his words, when upset.

Insha’Allah, I hope this helps. Happy parenting!

The Savvy Parent

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Free E-Book: Discipline Without Disrespect

Being a Proactive parent

 

  • Is your child or student angry all the time?
  • Do you wish you were equipped with effective anger management strategies?
  • Do you want to break out of the cycle of reactive parenting in which you end up screaming, hitting and punishing?

Here is a handy e-book titled “Discipline without Disrespect” with some very practical solutions.

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Jazak Allah Khair Grandma Jeddah for allowing the circulation of this book.