Express Your Emotions
Telling the child how you feel about her behaviour develops the child’s emotional intelligence and strengths relations. Expressing your emotions include your expectations “I expect you to be kind to your little brother”. Negative emotions should target actions not the person of the child. For instance: say “hitting your little brother is not a kind thing to do” rather than “you are unkind to your little brother”.
You might not agree with a child’s behaviour in certain situations, but you must understand and respect his feelings. When a boy felt sad for the death of his pet (a bird) Muhammad (PBUH) didn’t ignore or belittle his feelings, but showed concern and sympathy. Respecting a child’s feelings builds confidence in self and in others.
We tend to kiss our children only when they are babies (softer cheeks?), but less so when growing older. Whenever Muhammad (PBUH) saw his daughter Fatima coming to him – and she was then a grown-up girl- “he stood up for her, made her welcome, kissed her and had her sit in his place”. Kissing makes the child feels loved as well as secure. The same goes for kind gestures like hugging, wiping the head or tapping on the shoulders.
It’s not just about listening to what the child verbally says but also what he is not verbally saying. Body language, tone of voice and facial expressions are also important. Whenever someone spoke, Muhammad (PBUH) actively listened, without interrupting or making judgments. Active Listening builds trust and shows you care.
Dedicate 30 minutes daily to tell a story, play a game or simply sit to listen. With our busy life, it is also difficult when one has more than one child and of different ages and needs or interests. But with persistence and time-management, you will be able to make them all feel included- and they will really appreciate it.
Pray for your children in their absence and in their presence. We are often concerned with the success of our children in this world (e.g. earning good grades etc.) but it’s important that they know that we also care about their success in the hereafter. Let them see and hear you pray for them every time, say, they went to school, or before going to bed.
Some think that good parenting is about being “tough” on children, especially when boys. Being feared breeds hypocrisy, being loved and respected yields a true personality. In the hadith, one companion said: “I have not seen anyone who smiled more than the Messenger of Allah”. Also, the Prophet said that “Your smiling in the face of your brother is charity”. Wouldn’t you like to do charity to your son or daughter?
Reward Good Behaviour
Recognize good behaviour and reward it immediately. Rewarding means that you describe what good action the child did, and how you felt about it. When describing both be specific and honest, but don’t exaggerate your praises.
Provide Good Company
Parenting does not mean you should do all the “parenting stuff” to your child – let others help you as well. Helping your child have friends who share your desired values of upbringing develops his social skills and eases things for you. Muhammad (PBUH) once sent young Anas to do something for him, but instead Anas played with his friends. Muhammad was not cross with him because he knew that playing with friends was a healthy thing to do.
Parenting is not about acting or pretending. Parenting is not about making speeches and continuous advising. The child is more moved by what she sees in your daily actions and behavior. A husband who beats his wife can’t hope to change the aggressive attitude of his son towards his little sister. You don’t need to be a great speaker or scholar to be an effective mother – you simply need to be a genuine role model.