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Imparting Islamic Education to Teenagers

By: Abdul Adheem al-Muhtadi al-Bahrani

How can we teach children not to be envious?
Question: I am a teacher. I find that some of my students are envious of their classmates. I try my best to remove this bad feature from them but with no use. I can say that this feature is present even in my children in the house, and I do not know how to control it.
The answer: Envy has many causes such as:
1. The discrimination in parents’ treatment of their children; showing love to some children and depriving the others of it is an educational error that is widespread among families. This discrimination may lead the children to even commit crimes against the parents, the newborn child, or people outside the house. Wisdom requires parents to show love to their children equally in order to not shed tears of regret later on.
2. The natural gifts in individuals like beauty, neatness, tactfulness, and the like; here a wise teacher and a kind father should not prefer one (student or child) to another according to inexcusable sentiment and love. Preference is right when someone makes efforts to be successful and the teacher intends by that to draw the attentions of the others that whoever makes efforts to be successful will be preferred, and thus, preference is just a result of efforts and success.
3. Praising someone before his mates without justification; when one is praised before his mates, the reasons behind that praise, such as personal efforts, success, and the like, should be declared to make his mates understand that praise is a fruit deserved by whoever does good.
4. A teacher or a father should explain moral concepts and stories about the outcomes of enviers and then ask the listeners to give their opinions about envy and after that advise and warn them of envy.
5. It is good for a teacher sometimes to ask his students to write articles on envy and assign a prize for the best of them. Doing this leads them to read and ponder more over what they suffer from, and consequently, they try to rid themselves of this bad feature.
Parents have to prepare the mentality of their last child to respond to the coming of their new child. They should plant love inside their child for his coming brother or sister so that he can be delighted when it is born, and this will remove envy from him.

What are the causes of envy among children and what are the solutions?
Question: What are the causes of envy among children and what are the solutions?
The answer: There are many causes that prepare the ground for this bad quality. Here are some of them:
1. Moral defects in the family, such as the lack of indulgence, not pardoning one another, watching each other suspiciously, and the like
2. The parents’ disagreements and quarrels
3. Discrimination amongst the children
4. Natural differences between the children themselves, like cleverness, beauty, good speaking, activeness, etc.
5. Siding with one of the children against the other when they quarrel without listening or being certain about who is actually guilty
As for the solutions, they are:
1. Holding family meetings from time to time to discuss the matters that often cause quarrels, and the children should be given a full opportunity to talk freely while being listened to carefully and respectfully
2. In spite of all the quarrels between the children, the parents should deal with all of them equally and fairly
3. Making efforts to end every quarrel between the children from its very beginning
4. Avoiding discrimination; the parents should accept their children as they are and not make them feel that their parents love or care for a certain one of them more than the others
5. It is very important too that parents should adapt themselves to the natural rate of envy in their children, and at the same time that they explain to their children the harms of envy, they should not, by their actions, encourage it to increase in them

My son is lazy and does not like his lessons. How should I deal with him?
Question: My son is lazy and does not like his lessons. How should I deal with him?
The answer:
1. He has not found a motive that makes him love studying. Such a motive must be created in him by explaining to him the advantages of knowledge either by you or by others. You can talk to him about the great scientists, scholars, and inventors and explain to him how they have gained the respect of people and will gain the high degrees in Paradise.
2. He must be taught the right ways of learning and understanding the lessons.
3. The actual reasons for his hating studying must be identified. He may be harmed by his classmates or mistreated by his teachers or something else.
4. He should not be blamed too much, because this will make him more obdurate and obstinate.
5. Laziness sometimes is symptomatic and it would be better to see a doctor too.
6. If there are around him family problems or marital disagreements, you should try to determine them because such problems are the main reasons that cause laziness and boredom, and they are the key to every evil.

What do you think about beating children?
Question: What do you think about beating children? Do you think it is one of the successful ways of education?
The answer: Most people prefer beating and neglect using kind and persuasive words. I think that those who beat the children are in greater need of education than the children who are beaten. Children do not perceive the mistakes they commit nor do they understand the cause for being beaten.
Hence, the beater is worthier of being punished according to the very principle he follows in beating the child.
We should know that the child who is insulted and who suffers the pain of beating will not give up the thing for which he is beaten; rather, he will continue doing it secretly or will learn how to beat and practice beating another child or he will hide inside himself his hatred against the beater until a day when he will show his hatred to restore his dignity due to his childish understanding. The children that are deterred by beating are very few. Therefore, it is not right to utilize beating as a successful educational means, except according to the limits of necessity as studied by a wise educator.

I feel ashamed about my child’s bad behavior; what can I do?
Question: My child is quick-tempered, quarrelsome, and aggressive. He asks for some things at inappropriate times. He wants to possess whatever he likes, and sometimes he seizes others’ things and holds them whiningly and stiffly. I feel ashamed before others because of him. Would you please give me a solution?
The answer: Anger is a kind of excitement inside man that appears through his words and gestures. Excitement has external incentives at some times and internal ones at other times.
In fact, the power of angriness is a good defensive instinct in the life of man and nations that Allah has created in man to help him be in certain situations brave, valiant, and heroic. However, it is like other instincts. If it is not guided in the way of goodness, reform, and piety, it will move in the opposite direction and destroy the noble values.
There is a saying that courage and full-heartedness are among the hereditary aspects, and so are anger and quick-temperedness.
As for anger in children, educationists say that it begins in the third year and decreases when the child becomes five and a half years old. Children learn anger and nervousness from their parents and the persons around them in the house, kindergarten, or school. Children also learn that from some exciting films. They imitate what they see in those films thinking it is a condition for them to be accepted by society or to prove their personalities and existence among their fellows. Thus, they feel the pleasure of pride and importance.
Regardless of the age differences of those who show their anger, the common thing between all kinds of anger is that the angry person places himself at the center of all things and becomes utterly selfish when he wants something, which could be his or others’, and he then disagrees with others.
On the other hand, an angry child provokes his parents’ anger and then his desire to defend his pleasure and aim increases in him. In this wrong way, angriness deepens in the child while his parents and relatives do not feel it.
To cure this state, one should not reciprocate the angry child with anger. When the child becomes angry, parents should not be angry with him, because in order to put out the fire, one needs to pour water on it and not add fuel!
Besides, you should make the child understand that the pleasure of proving his personality and existence among others is not gained through anger or forcefully seizing things but is instead gained through love and cordiality.
At the same time, the parents should not submit to the unreasonable desires of the child. Submission to all his desires makes him ask for anything at anytime and deepens in him obduracy and obstinacy, and then he does not care whether his parents are able to meet his requests or not. In fact, excessive pampering makes the child ask for everything and with no limits. Of course, he becomes angry if he faces a limit that he has not faced before. Hence, the parents may be, most of the time, the cause in making the child grow accustomed to asking for everything because they meet all his requests in order to avoid his insistence, as they think, but the fact that is not known to them is that their child will now ask for new things again and again.
Yes, if parents are able to buy for their child what he sees in the hands of others and wants, they should do so; otherwise, they should be patient enough to tolerate their child’s angriness and insistence.

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