1. Be Sensitive to Your Child’s Feelings
One of the best ways to avoid future behavioural problems is to be sensitive to your child’s feelings. Let your child know you understand how he feels, even when he has misbehaved. For example, If Abdullah comes home with a notice from school that admonishes him for speaking disrespectfully to his teacher, listen to his story and frustrations first. Let him know that you understand how he feels. Then later you can kindly follow up with instructions on how he should handle the situation in the future more appropriately. At this time, you can also proceed to dispense whatever penalties you deem suitable.
The most effective penalties are those that are implemented with respect and gentleness. Allah says in Qur’an: “So by mercy from Allah, [O Muhammad], you were lenient with them. And if you had been rude [in speech] and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you. So pardon them and ask forgiveness for them and consult them in the matter.” [Qur’an: Chapter 3, Verse 159]
According to hadith, the Prophet said: “Whoever was given his share of gentleness, then he has been given a share of good. And whoever has been prevented from his share of gentleness, then he has been prevented from his share of good.” [Tirmidhi]
2. Use Positive Reinforcement Often
Seek out situations and behaviours in which you can commend your child. For example, when you notice Abdullah getting along with his younger sibling or completing his homework without being told, let him know how pleased you are. Such as, “Abdullah, thank you for cleaning your room without my reminding you to. Your room looks really nice.”
You will often find that encouragement leads to more successful discipline than criticism. Encouragement makes people feel good about themselves, which leads to further effort. Criticism, on the other hand, leads to feelings of despondency, which results in apathy.
3. Give Your Child Control Periodically
We all have a need to be in control of our lives and to feel important. If you find your child becoming increasingly combative and argumentative, give them a say in what goes on in the house. Make sure you provide your children with the opportunity to make their own decisions every now and then. Also, allow them to be in charge of things around the house. For children who have a stronger desire to be in control than others, grant them the extra responsibility. Consider assigning daily chores to your children. This can give them a sense of belonging and purpose. Use an incentive chart to encourage them to complete their chores on occasions they are reticent.
If your child refuses to take a bath when asked to, try offering him or her options rather than commands. For example, “Abdullah, do you want to take your bath now or in ten minutes?” Occasionally, let your child decide what dinner will be for the night or where the family should go for their weekend outing.
4. Be Fair When Disciplining
Being unfair or excessively harsh when correcting your child can sometimes lead to your child retaliating in subtle ways, such as venting his anger on younger siblings or embarrassing you in front of friends and family with disruptive behaviour.
According to hadith, the Prophet said: “Treat your children fairly, treat your children fairly.” [Nasa’i]
Another hadith states that the Prophet said: “Act equally between your children; Act equally between your sons.” [Abu Dawud]
Everyone wants to feel respected and appreciated. Treating your children justly can alleviate a host of discipline problems and helps to make them feel valued. A person who feels valued has the self-respect to adhere to established rules.
If you find you have disciplined excessively or unjustly, let your child know you are sorry. Parents can apologise too. This can teach your child that mistakes in judgment can be corrected. It can also help your child to swallow his resentful feelings that lead to excessively unruly behaviour.
5. Be Conscious of Your Stress Level
If you have been under extra stress lately, realise that your frustrations with your child might be related more to how you are feeling rather than your child’s actual misbehaviour. When you are under added stress, you tend to have less patience. You might snap at your children for things you would not ordinarily scold them about. During these periods, acknowledge your heightened tension and then decrease your stress by retreating to your room for rest. You can also relax by involving yourself in special personal time such as reading an enjoyable book or listening to Qur’an.
6. Be Aware of Your Child’s Stress Level
A child that is stressed out is less likely to be cooperative and more inclined to moodiness. Both of these actions can lead to problem behaviours. If you notice that your child is experiencing added stress, focus on relieving the stress by determining what is upsetting him or her and doing what you can to help alleviate the problems. During these stressful periods, within reason, try to overlook negligible behaviours. Focus more on finding solutions rather than punishment.
Also, keep in mind that one of the best ways of alleviating your child’s stress level is by showing your love and affection.
According to hadith, the Prophet was very loving with his grandchildren. Aisha reported, “Some Bedouin people came to the Prophet and said: ‘Do you kiss your children?’ He said: ‘Yes’. He said: ‘But we, by Allah, never kiss (our children)’. The Prophet said: ‘What can I do if Allah has taken away mercy from you?'” [Ibn Majah]
7. Determine if Your Child is Seeking Attention
Some children will attempt to seek attention in any way they can, even if it is through improper behaviour. Try to spend more time with your child if you know you have been a bit slack lately. Simply listening more and giving your full attention when he or she is talking to you can be a start. But also remember to put aside special time during the day or week to spend with your child. Make it a habit of playing games every Friday or going on outings every Saturday. Arrange a schedule that will be suitable for all family members.
The Prophet was known to spend fun time with his family. According to hadith, Aisha said that while she was on a journey along with the Messenger of Allah , “I had a race with him (the Prophet ) and I outstripped him on my feet. When I became fleshy, (again) I had a race with him (the Prophet) and he outstripped me. He said: This is for that outstripping.” [Abu Dawud]
Establishing effective discipline techniques in your home can help parents achieve one of the most difficult yet most critical roles of a parent — that of the proper training of their children and in turn, a productive household.
Developing a productive household is an important aspect of establishing a healthy and productive society. Begin striving to improve your household habits in the manner mentioned in the three parts of this series. Be generous and kind, be patient with shortcomings, be committed to an intact family, and most important of all, remain faithful and dedicated to pleasing Your Lord. In sha Allah, you will see a more positive and fruitful home in the future.
If these tips have helped or if you have some more tips to share, let us know in the comments below!