Once I walked into a house and found a child crying hysterically and complaining to his mother in between sobs “Ahmed hit me!” the child said, immediately the mother went to get a belt and out of anger she hit Ahmed and said “don’t you ever hit your brother again, why can’t you be kind to him? You should control your anger, you are the older one!”.
The younger child had wiped away his tears as he watched his older brother being punished, a sight of triumph could easily be noticed on his face. Ahmed on the other hand was now hysterically crying in the corner of the room.
As I watched, I noticed so many contradictions in what the mother was saying and doing. She preached through her words that Ahmed should be kind to his brother because he is older and also that he shouldn’t harm his brother. However in her approach the mother was doing the exact opposite. She was being harsh, she was reacting to anger and she harmed her son.
We often preach that actions are louder than words then go against our own mantra.
Another time, I visited a friend and when I walked into their house, I noticed that they had three words on the wall in their living room. They were made of glass and they shone beautifully grabbing the attention of whoever was to be in that room. As I sat, I stared at the wall for a while and understood why this family was in such harmony. The words read “love”, “mercy” and “peace” and a smile stretched on my lips as I remembered the verse of the Almighty:
“And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquility in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought.”
This family preached their philosophy and reminded each other each day about what was most important to their family. It made me wonder, how often do families know what their principles are?
I have met numerous families that sit with their children and talk about what the important characters that matter to them are. It is helpful as a family to talk about the five top characteristics you would like to see from each other.
Parenting is meant to be enjoyable. Children and money are the blessings of Allah but we often walk around talking about what a great burden our children are to us. It always helps to have a little more knowledge on the area of parenting and talking to people who could give us ideas on how to practically parent positively.
Here are some things that you could start to consider when parenting or living:
1. Reprimand the behavior not the person.
“You are such a bad child” does very little in helping a child improve, in fact it would probably be a reason to suck out self-confidence and esteem from children. A more harmonious approach would be to highlight the action that is not accepted for instance, “Muhammad, the word that you just used was not appropriate.”
2. Build bridges, do not burn them
It is important to make leave a door open for our children to know that they are welcomed back. “Don’t talk to me” or “I don’t want to see you right now” teaches children very little about what to do when something has gone wrong. Consider using lines such as “I am upset right now, you can talk to me after five minutes”.
3. Focus on the solution, not on the problem
Asking why a child broke a mug will not particularly help us resolve anything. Instead of being dwellers of the mistakes our children make, let us teach them problem- solving skills. “Would you please clean-up?” or questions such as “What do you think you could do differently next time?” makes them think about their actions and think about ways to improve them
4. Create harmony between siblings
Create an environment that is free of competitions “who will finish first” and “who is the better person” clearly makes a child feel like one is better than the other.
Creating a harmonious environment is about teaching children that we are all in the same boat and that we need each other to get to our destination. It is about instilling admiration, love and mercy between them. Once you have the setup right, the other pieces of the puzzle fall into place. Competitions might get your child to complete the food faster but it breaks the relationships between siblings by making them feel like one is better and more loved by the parent than the other.
5. Create independent children and problem solvers.
Instead of acting like the judge that would condemn one as the oppressor and the other as the oppressed, consider throwing the ball back at the court during sibling fights. Part of teaching them how to solve problems and getting them to be better siblings to each other and better human beings is instilling problem solving skills.
It’s always helpful to throw back the ball on the children’s court and let them figure things out by giving them guidelines such as.
- You two have to speak to each other
- No one is allowed to raise their voices
- Both parties have to come out of this being satisfied
- The better person is the person who is easy during arguments and looks for solutions to problems.
You could also explain to them the benefit and consequence of not resolving their problems. “If you cannot decide who plays next on the play station, I will take it away until you can learn how to play without fighting.”
6. We are friends who work in harmony not rivals
A mistake we often fall in to create so much hate between siblings is that of comparison. Instead of “Amer is so much better than you in math and look at Amin he can easily go up to the shopkeeper and ask for what he wants”,
“Amer is really good at solving math problems would you like to learn from him?” and “Amin is really good at speaking to the shopkeeper do you want to go with him so he can talk?” Each child has a unique character and as parents we are to highlight it to them and to their siblings so that we all know that we all fit together and work together to create harmony in our homes.
7. Be the change you want to see in your child
There is no use preaching what you do not put into action. Walk the talk. If you expect your child to know how to ask for forgiveness when he has done a mistake, be the first one to ask for forgiveness when you as a parent have gone wrong. Teach children that we are humans and no matter how “big” we are, we still have humility and we still believe they are important.
The Prophet SalaAllahu alaihi wa sallam lived by his quote: “The best of you are those who are best to their families, and I am the best of you to my family.” (Tirmidhi, Sahih)