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How is the Personality of a Child Formed?

By: Abdul Adheem al-Muhtadi al-Bahrani
Question: After having our first child by the will of Allah the Almighty, an argument took place between my wife and me about how the personality of a child is formed. Would you please give us an answer to settle our argument?
The answer: The personality of a child is built through the following factors:
1. The natural faith in the true religion of Allah; a child, regardless of whoever and whatever he may turn out to be, is born with the divine nature that is the true Islam. Allah has said, (Surely the (true) religion with Allah is Islam)[217]. However, it is the parents who make their children either Jews, Christians, or Magi based on their own beliefs. So deviation begins with external factors, the first of which is the parents’ beliefs and conducts.
2. The intellectual and practical level of parents; however developed in intellect and conducts they are, their child will be similar to them.
3. The relationship between the parents and the child; if it is close, full of love and care, the child’s personality and mentality will be shaped in a way that will help him to be successful in the future.
4. Orderliness, mannerliness, discipline, and cleanliness; the child grows accustomed to these items from his environment, and they become parts of his future personality.
5. The wise administration of the family; many sufferings inside the house are caused by a weak administration of family affairs. The father or the mother, or both, must have the ability of leadership to administrate every affair concerning the family in order to help the family arrive at the shore of happiness and ease. Leadership is not dictatorship, but rather, it is the art of winning hearts and attracting them to the right opinion.
Notes:
[217] Holy Qur’an, 3:19.

From where do children receive their culture?
Question: From where do children receive their culture? Is it from their parents, TV programs, or school programs? This was the subject of a discussion that recently took place in a family meeting. Most of us said that TV programs were the first source from which a child obtains his culture and conducts. Do you have anything else with which to advise us? Thanks.
The answer: The child begins receiving his culture from the first moment when he begins to feel whatever is happening around him inside the house. Thus, the parents are the first source of the culture by which the child is influenced and with which he grows up. His first step begins with the blind imitation of every movement, gesture, and word of his parents, especially the mother and then the father, and then the others in the family and the children of the same age whether in the house, street, school, TV, or illustrated magazines.
Allama Sayyid Hadi al-Mudarrisi says, ‘Man is not only the son of his class – as Marx says – but he is the son of his culture, education, and environment before all.[218]’
The experiments of educationists have proven that the child receives from the one around him all his gestures and words and even his gait, way of eating, etc. They say that man is a creature who acts according to nature and is sociable by influence. The kind of culture around him enables him to change continuously, whether positively or negatively, until the last moment of his life.
TV programs are one of the most important sources of injecting cultures into a child, but it is not more important than the culture of the parents, except if their culture is to throw the child towards those programs to feed on them all the time.
Notes:
[218] Brief Ways towards Glory, book no.16 p.7.

What is your opinion about the plays of children and with what do you advise parents to play with their children?
Question: What is your opinion about the plays of children and with what do you advise parents to play with their children?
The answer: Man is a sociable being by nature, but if he does not protect himself with a sound culture, he will turn into a sick member of society, and his personality is shaped according to the culture he receives and the social role he plays. This matter begins with childhood. If a man receives during his childhood a sound culture and sound social senses, he will be ready to enjoy success; otherwise, he will be liable to deviation.
Educationists say that childhood is a third of one’s normal age. If the needs of a child are satisfied and he is provided with useful toys and playthings, he will be more ready to undertake a successful role in society in the future. In the light of this theory, we present the following suggestions:
1. Parents have to choose for their child useful playthings that have constructive and educational purposes and that can open his mind and help him mix in society successfully. We do not mean to totally prevent the child from playing alone, but let most of his play be of the kind that needs another child to play with; and however more players the play may require, the sense of sociability and communication with others will increase.
2. There is no doubt that mental games are preferred in importance to physical games, but each have their undeniable importance and advantage in building a well-rounded personality of the child.
3. Parents should know that however they conduct themselves, whether with good behaviors and nice words or with quarrels and bad words, will reflect on the child, especially when he is alone with his toys. He will behave according to what he has acquired from his parents because they are the closest ones who the child imitates and is influenced by. This state remains with the child, whether it is good or bad, and others can discover the morals of the parents in the house through the behaviors of the child. Hence, parents must be careful regarding their behaviors with their child or in his presence because this will leave a great influence on his mentality.
4. It is necessary to submit to the child’s desire in choosing the kind of toys for him, but if he chooses something that is harmful for him, he must be convinced wisely to choose better alternatives.
5. Parents should keep the child away from plays and games of violence, especially computer games such as wrestling, karate, and the like.
6. Providing the child with different kinds of useful toys and games is very important for him.

I would like to know the motives for my child’s acting nervous and violent.
Question: I would like to know the motives for my child’s acting nervous and violent. He rebels against my advices and does the opposite of what I ask him to do.
The answer: First, when your child rebels, you have to think of these three questions: when, why, and how. When you are able to identify when this state begins, why it begins, and how, then you will recognize the motives that make him resist and rebel against you. Most likely, you will find that it is you who should be blamed for that. If it is in fact so, then you must change your manner of advising him.
Second, sometimes your intention is good when advising, but your manner of advising is not right. You should know that it is wisdom to choose effective ways and manners of giving advice because sometimes the manner is better than the advice itself.
Third, the kinds of foods you often have in your house, and especially canned foods and other products that come to us from foreign countries, may have a negative effect on the nerves, cause excitement, and increase the temperature of blood. It is necessary to follow, in our foods, a culture derived from our Islamic values.
Fourth, watching violent films has a very bad influence on children’s mentalities. Children learn from such films mutiny, resistance, and other bad behaviors that do not befit a Muslim.

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