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Sunday 6 November 2011

Guiding Children's Behaviour: From an Islamic Perspective

This is a book that I have written a while ago on parenting. Here is an excerpt. You can download the whole booklet at this link.


These are strategies to encourage and maintain positive behaviours.

1. Body Language and Facial Expressions
Children understand whether  parents are pleased or upset with them by looking at their parent's facial expressions, gestures and body language.  A pleasing countenance from a parent, such as a happy face, will encourage children to repeat an action.  Even babies are good at this.  Smiling and laughing as a baby blows raspberries will encourage more raspberries.  A child who has done something silly but cute that elicited a chuckle from a parent will in turn encourage more of such behaviour. On the other hand, a disapproving look will deter such acts.

It is natural that children want to please their parents. It is natural for humans to want to please those whom they love.  It is this instinct that parents need to nurture to guide their children's behaviour.

The sahaba (companions of the Prophet) loved the Prophet (s).  They wanted to please him and they knew when he was pleased:

Narrated by Abdullah bin Kab (Bukhari, 4.756): "I heard Ba'b bin Malik talking after his failure to join (the Ghazwa of ) Tabuk.  He said, 'When I greeted Allah's Messenger whose face was glittering with happiness, for whenever Allah's Messenger was happy, his face used to glitter as if a piece of moon, and we used to recognise it (i.e. his happiness) from his face.'"

And when the Prophet (s) was upset:

Narrated by Abdullah (Bukhari, 4.617): "Once when the Prophet distributed something (among his followers). A man said, 'This distribution has not been done (with justice) seeking Allah's countenance.' I went to the Prophet and told him (of that).  He became so angry that I saw the signs of anger on his face.  Then he said, 'May Allah bestow His Mercy on Mosses, for he was harmed more (in a worse manner) than this; yet he endured patiently.'"

Also:   Narrated by Aishah (Bukhari, 1.19): “Whenever Allah's Apostle ordered the Muslims to do something, he used to order them deeds which were easy for them to do, (according to their strength endurance). They said, "O Allah's Apostle! We are not like you. Allah  has forgiven your past and future sins." So Allah's Apostle became angry and it was apparent on his face. He said, "I am the most Allah fearing, and know Allah better than all of you do."

And: Ali (t) narrated (Bukhari, 7.279): The Prophet gave me a silk suit and I wore it, but when I noticed anger on his face, I cut it and distributed it among my women-folk.

The Prophet (s) did not have to say a word.  It was enough that Ali (r) noticed the signs of anger on the Prophet’s  face to stop him wearing the suit.

It is important that every time a child does a positive act parents must immediately show approval through smiling, hugging, kissing or other positive expressions, gestures or body language.  Conversely, every time  a child does a negative act parents must immediately show disapproval through frowning, folding of arms, hands on hips or other negative expressions.

Remember though that this only works when there is love and affection between the child and parents.

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