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Training the Children

By: Abdul Adheem al-Muhtadi al-Bahrani

Please explain about the harms of dealing with children severely and beating them.
Question: My husband is quick-tempered. He does not tolerate the noises and mistakes of our children; therefore, he does not treat them but with beating and severe punishments. He is like a military officer, our house is like a camp, and our children are like powerless soldiers. As for me, I am worried about the future of our unlucky family. I want you to write to these fathers about the harms of severity and beating the children that they may decide to live quietly and comfortably. What is the value of a life in such tension?]
The answer: One of the fathers’ problems is that they have not learned their religion concerning education and the rights of the family. They think they possess the necks of their wives and the lives of their children. Children are deposits that Allah has entrusted parents with, and women are humans having rights and duties just as men have.
The state of this father, as an example, is very dangerous, and he will be blamed and punished severely for it on the Day of Resurrection. The least danger of this state is that the children who graduate from this “military camp,” will be quarrelsome, severe, and violent against people and even against their wives and children. The guilt of this is the father’s, and he will receive the curses of people as well.
Beating is one of the widespread wrongs of education. Islam has prohibited beating except in some exceptional cases. Beating should be utilized for discipline only and within the following guidelines:
1. A child should not be insulted and blamed; rather it is his wrongdoing that is to be criticized.
2. Parents should be certain of whether or not their child deserves punishment, according to whether or not the wrong was committed intentionally.
3. Before beating, parents should make their child understand the harms of his wrongdoing.
4. Parents should choose a suitable place, suitable quantity, and suitable means for punishment.
5. Before being punished, the child should know the reason for his punishment.
6. After punishing the child, parents should deal with him as normal, with love and mercy.
7. Punishment should be carried out secretly and not in the presence of others, and this will be more fruitful and positive.

My son is almost an adult and I worry about him getting into sinful behaviors such as relations with girls; what should I do?
Question: My son is about to be an adult. I fear for him that perhaps he shall be corrupted, sinful, or shall have suspicious relations with girls. Would you please show me the successful manner of dealing with him before such a calamity will afflict him and me?
The answer: You should know, first, that a young man always looks for whatever makes him delighted, joyful, and pleased. Some of the things that cause joy and pleasure are lawful and some are unlawful. It is your duty to show him which of them are lawful and which are not. But, if you prevent him from his ambition, you will lead him to either suppression and psychological complexes or to practicing sins secretly with complexes as well. Then, you will involve him and yourself in the calamity from which you want to escape.
The only way of a sound education, in which the youth are guided to a happy moral and material life, is to let one live naturally without depriving him of the good blessings Allah has given to His people.
Once, I admired one believer brother who lived in a Western country for saying to his adult son in my presence, ‘My son, keep yourself safe and beware not to slip into the traps of the western girls!’
His son replied frankly, ‘They are very beautiful, and they themselves follow me. What shall I do if I cannot be patient?’
The father said, ‘Then, you can practice temporary marriage legally, but do not commit sin!’
The youth, in the age of adulthood and some years after that, must face the facts of life. If you want to protect your son, you should understand the new facts of life nowadays and make him understand them with love, kindness, and leniency but not violence or severity.
Have you ever experienced for yourself when you visit a country for the first time? What would you do in the first days where you know nothing about its places, streets, people, or laws? Would you not be cautious and, at the same time, be eager to know everything until you actually did learn some things and then you could set out confidently? There is no doubt that you would thank whoever helped you and showed you the ways there truthfully and respectfully. Wouldn’t you?
Your young son lives in the same case when he opens his eyes to face the new facts of adulthood and the period after it. He looks for whoever can help him but with kindness, love, truthfulness, and respect. I am sure that he will thank you sincerely if you are that loving and merciful friend who will help and guide him to pass the way of adolescence. You may remember when you yourself were in this stage of life!

What is the cause of children being disrespectful and disobedient?
Question: Why do our children stand still in their places and disobey us when we ask them for something? What is the cause of their mutiny, obdurateness, and disobedience?
The answer: You should not think that the cause of this phenomenon is only one cause. In fact, there are many causes. For example:
1. The child may not know the purpose of the thing requested from him. Here, parents can show him the purpose and instruct him in a language that he can understand.
2. He may think that the thing requested is not important, and so the importance of the thing should be declared to him.
3. He may not know how to carry out the thing requested, and here he can be taught the way.
4. He may not know which is of greater priority when two things are requested from him. Here, parents should explain to him what his priorities are.
5. He may think that he shall not be punished when he rebels and shall not be rewarded when he obeys. Here, parents should make him understand that there is a suitable punishment and reward.
6. He may not be able to carry out the thing requested from him. Here, parents should not burden him with what he cannot do.
7. The means required to carry out the things requested from him may not be available to him.

How should I train my toddler in eating by himself?
Question: My child, who is two years old, insists on his independence in food. He does not accept for me to feed him. This causes him to dirty himself and his surroundings, and sometimes he scatters the food on the carpets where the colors of food cannot be removed from them. When I take the vessel of food away from him, he cries, resists, and refuses to eat at all. I do not know whether or not I should allow him to dirty everything. I am confused as to how to deal with him.
The answer: Dear sister, take life easy and adapt yourself to such matters! Do not trouble yourself and do not make your child angry! Let him feel his freedom because it is more important than his food. Let him build his personality on the principles of independence and self-confidence because these are the bases of his future. In a word, you should leave him free and not tire your nerves and his because you are in dire need of calm nerves to face the difficulties of life!
You have to put these advantages in a scale and dirty clothes, carpets, and other things in another scale and then see which of them you prefer.
There is no doubt that you will prefer the advantages of freedom, independence, and tranquility, and this is undoubtedly the right choice.
During meals, you can humor your child in any way that will make him cooperate. For example, after one, two, or three spoonfuls of food that he pours on himself, you can offer him the rest while playing with him by imitating the sound of a car, train, motorcycle, bird, or anything else.
I myself have been successful with my son “Muhammad Jawad” in this way. I would bring a spoonful of food close to his mouth and imitate the sound of the door when knocked. I would say, ‘Knock, Knock!’, and my son would reply, ‘Who is at the door?’ I would say, ‘Please open! I am the bread and egg.’ My son would then say while opening his mouth, ‘Come in please!’ Then I would put the food into his mouth.
In this way, one should play with his child and behave like him as the Prophet (S) has recommended us to do in his educational traditions.
It is a stage that will come to an end when the child grows older and becomes more reasonable while the concepts of freedom, independence, self-confidence, respect, love, and kindness are deeply rooted inside him, whereas the clothes and carpets that became dirty can be cleaned, and even if they cannot be cleaned, they have no great value when compared to the essential concepts of building the future personality of the child.
Indeed, if parents care for these bases of building their children’s personalities, they will produce wonderful fruits by them. However, most people think just of the present and ignore the distant future. For their temporary comfort, they destroy the real ease for themselves and for their children who are tomorrow’s adults.

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