6. Make chores fun!
We know as Muslims that cleanliness is half of our faith. If being clean is a large part of us being Muslims, we need to cultivate in our children at an early age how to maintain their home and own space. In their development, we all must play an active part to keep both our internal and external environment clean. A friend of mine who is a nanny taught the kids not to litter the ground; when she was asked why, she said: why litter the bed we will be sleeping in – i.e. the ground? I think this was beautifully put!
Let children participate in house chores. When you speak to them, rather than saying: “my home” or “my kitchen” say “our home” or “our kitchen”– this gives them a sense of belonging and responsibility. Make sure your kids have something to do consistently and make it fun!
This is one of the most vital skills a child will learn during his development. Speak to children according to their level of understanding. The Prophet spoke in a simple and clear way that everybody could understand.
Consciously make eye contact when speaking to your children so that they have your full undivided attention, even though you may be tempted to multi-task. Look for hidden messages: most of our communication and the meaning of what we say is conveyed through our body language.
Come down to their level: as parents, children know that we are in the authoritative position and they will have to listen – we need to exercise this power in a fair and consistent manner. I had a boss who was about 6.5 feet tall, and I must say it felt intimidating having someone tower over me, a total invasion of my bubble space!
I want you to imagine if I can feel this way, how will our children feel when we stand towering over them while talking to them? No wonder they seem to be oblivious to what we say. Our children will open a channel of communication when we talk to them at their level.
Try it out: next time your child comes to you, either kneel down to speak to them or get the child to sit next to you – more or less on the same level. Now you are at the same level and your child will see you as part of their world and be more and receptive to what you want to say, with a sense of being valued and respected. Try this repeatedly with your children and see the results!
8. Discipline and boundaries
Discipline and self-restraint are important characteristics of a Muslim. We learn this through fasting and refraining from things Allah has told us to stay away from, like eating pork for instance. Set clear and positive messages: make sure your boundaries and corresponding consequences are very clear. Identify what you want your child to do instead of what you don’t what them to do. For example, the consequence of not coming to the dinner table when food is served, will be to eat it as it is! When you are setting boundaries be clear, specific and remain positive:
- I want to stop Jasmine from watching TV.
- I want to stop my mom from giving Faisal to many sweets.
- I want Kulthum to memorize a portion of the Qur’an daily.
- Jasmine can watch TV for 30 minutes on a Saturday.
- I want Faisal to start eating more fruit and vegetables.
- I will arrange for Kulthum to stay awake after Fajr and memorize the Quran for 30 minutes.
Keeping to your boundaries is where the real challenge lies. It’s important to stand your ground: when you catch your children doing something good – praise them. Always be consistent and stick to your promises, otherwise you will not be trusted! And learn to negotiate: children are the best negotiators I have come across – so be sensible! As you are leading by example, you will be teaching your little gems these skills too! Boundaries show that you care about your child and what they are doing. It also helps them know where they stand and makes them feel secure and valued.
We have many routines for our children including morning, school, homework and bedtime routines. How much emphasis do we put on Islamic routines? What should our primary focus be? Take some time out to draw up an Islamic routine for your children that looks like the following:
- Teach your children to stay awake after fajr (depending on the salah times during the year): the Prophet stayed back after fajr and had beneficial discussions with the sahabah (Companions).
- Get them to read/memorize a portion of the Qur’an in the morning and/or evening.
- Prioritize that they perform their salah on time.
- Get them to reflect on a verse of the Qur’an or a hadith everyday.
- Get them in the habit of reading the du’aas the Prophet read before going to bed, waking up from sleep, eating, etc. Get your children to choose a hadith or du’aa once a week and stick it up on the wall with its meaning for the whole family to learn. Don’t forget the rewards!
- Teach them to be charitable by smiling as stated by the Prophet and helping their neighbors too.
With routines, children learn to be independent and consistent. We need to teach them to learn to wait, help and be patient, thereby developing solid tolerance levels for patience.
10. Role models
Our Prophet Muhammad is the best of all role models. Read stories about him to your children so they follow his sunnah (path) with love. Read stories about the Prophets and the sahabah. Teach them from an early age about the sahabah and other great heroes of Islam. If we develop in them a love for Islam and provide them with righteous examples for their heroes, they are less likely to go astray. As we see nowadays, children want to be like their heroes: if they admire the sahabah and sahabiyyat like Abu Bakr , Umar , Ibn Abbas and Aisha , they are more than likely to emulate them and remain steadfast upon their religion, in sha Allah.
11. Plan family fun trips
Visit the local masjid to teach children the etiquettes of the masjid – this will help them acquaint and familiarize themselves with the masjid, especially the boys. Visit historical Muslim cities such as Makkah, Madinah, Timbuktu etc. to give your children an understanding of their heritage as Muslims.
12. Make du’aa for them
As parents, it goes without saying that we need to constantly make du’aa for our children. It was the practice of the Prophets like Ibrahim [as] and Prophet Muhammad as well as pious men like Luqman .
One of the goals of Muslim parents is to have pious children that will pray for them once they have left this world – can you say your child will remember to make du’aa for you when you have gone?
We have to walk our talk and lead by example. Practice what you preach: after the Prophet , the children see you as their next role model. They watch and mirror most of what you do – you have a direct impact on their lives. You hold your child’s hand for a short while and their hearts forever. You are your child’s most powerful role model.
Ultimately, ask yourself: are you the mom you want to be? Reflect on the bigger picture. Do not treat your children like an item on your “to-do list” – when they need you, give them your full attention. Don’t wait to complete your daily chores before tending to the children. You can be a productive mom and make it happen – by the will of Allah . No matter where you are, start now and carry on – be the change you want to see. It takes a strong energetic mom to nurture and nourish their children to grow with confidence and self-esteem.
Start NOW with this exercise:
What would you like your children to see in you?
What would you like to contribute to their lives?
What is one key life lesson that you really want your children to learn from you and carry in their heart always?
About the Author:
Khafayah Abdulsalam is a proud mom of four children aged between 10-21 years old. She shares the empathy of moms especially on family management and juggling the joys of motherhood. Over the last few years, she has successfully coached moms using Islamic principles to take moms through the journey of motherhood. Her primary profession is motherhood whereas she also works full-time as an Expatriate Payroll Specialist. Khafayah is a certified Mommy coach trained by Sheikh Muhammad Alshareef and a Master NLP practitioner. Khafayah is currently working on a new project that focuses on developing kids, parents and teachers, based on Islamic principles and NLP techniques.