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Raising Children with Kindness and Wisdom

How can we have good and obedient children without using harsh discipline?

Ustadha Zaynab, the daughter of Habib Umar, descendents of the Holy Prophet Muhammad ﷺ gives some amazing advice:

Her father, when seeing a child has made a mistake, instead of reprimanding them, would bring the incident up later, not mentioning who it was and advise what the correct action would have been. This is the kindest and most effective method. It's very important not to shame a child and this is an ideal way as they will definitely be listening when the subject is brought up and be very grateful for not being named, promoting more love, affection and obedience. He would also ask the children themselves what the answer could be.

This section is a summarised extract from a course, in March this year, where Ustadha Zaynab explains how to dealing with difficult behaviour and stubborn children.

Remember that the behaviour of the child is the tip of the iceberg. The part that we cannot see is much bigger and is a reflection of the problems the child may have so remember this when dealing with them: something bigger is happening.

When you see negative behaviour, see it just when she you see a fever in a child;you can take medicine to reduce the fever but until you treat the illness in the first place, it will keep coming back.

When trying to deal with the underlying problem, deal with one thing at a time. Don't make it a constant battle and anger by trying to fix everything all the time.

The way that you think and frame the problem is essential in how to deal with the problems. When a child makes a mistake, look at them as being human. Allah swt has made us for a lofty purpose and in the process, we're all going to make mistakes. Use the mistakes as an opportunity to learn and grow. Examine yourself as well, look at how you deal with things and your own mistakes and respond to your child just as you would want people to respond to your errors: with wisdom, a deeper approach, holistically.

Accept the mistake. Not by being pleased or ignoring it if it needs to be addressed, but accept that it's happened and you're going to try to correct it in a way which uses wisdom.

When you've accepted it, you're in a position to look and learn from the whole event, see the symptoms clearly to find out the reasons for acting in this way.

Most of the common reasons are: an unfulfilled need, they want to assert their importance and show their being is essential and vital to you.

One of the first behaviours a child does is attention seeking. From a young age for example, when a child coughs and you respond with alhamdulilah, they cough again to keep your focus on them. Attention seeking is just your child trying to get your attention but just not in the best way. The child thinks you're too busy for them or you've passed them on to someone else (another care giver etc) and that they're not important enough. The cure for attention seeking behaviour is by giving them extra attention noticing them when they're already involved in an activity. If you ignore, it will lead to them experimenting with other types of behaviour to get your attention- so give that positive attention first.

Get them involved in what you're doing even if it's small tasks, so they're involved in your world and not cut off from you when you're busy. Eg getting you a pen when you're working, helping you when you're doing work in the house. Speak clearly when you're busy, eg "I'm doing this now, what shall we do afterwards?" This will reassure them you're not cut off and will get full attention afterwards. You can allocate your child special duties to help them feel a sense of achievement and establish independent skills.

On stubborn children:

…. This quality is a BIG blessing from Allah swt. So be grateful for this nimah. This quality can help protect them from other people and situations which would weaken someone else. Do not break that stubbornness! Deal with it with wisdom, protect it and use it positively and for good.

Give them a role to play, get them to use their strength of character positively. Do not give them orders, instead present it as a choice to them to give them the impression that they're in control.

Persist in giving them choices and value their feelings. You can also replace orders with questions, e.g. what time do you want to do your homework? Again so that they feel in control.

Do not meet their stubbornness with your own stubbornness! This will only escalate things negatively and make the child not feel loved. When a child feels unloved or left out, they will make themselves feel better by seeking revenge. So we need to fix this problem quickly by always trying our best to understand the child's feelings.

Establish and build that positive loving emotional commitment to not allow bad behaviour to become fixed in. You need to also examine your child: is there any bullying which is happening? Think carefully about whether there could be negative behaviour from someone else which is affecting them on a deeper level.

Always, always avoid comparing your child to other people, no matter what. Tell them that you love them, use positive loving emotions.

A child can start feeling like a failure, either by being overly spoilt, or by being treated with too much harshness. This can then manifest in stubborn behaviour so it's important to remember that when we deal with them.

It's also important to have good role models in the parents behaviour and siblings, as however the child sees anger being expressed, they will imitate that. You need to also examine what your child is being exposed to from characters in films/TV/what they're exposed to, especially in characters expressing anger and intense emotions. When you seek to solve this problem of anger/emotions, you will also resolve a number of other issues at the same time.

Name the child's feeling "I can see you're feeling angry" to comfort them that you have understood their communication. Imagine if an adult disregarded another adults feelings? Never disregard or belittle their feelings. Comfort them that anger is normal, "I feel like that too sometimes" talk about what's upsetting them and validate their feelings. Do not cover up your child's feelings or try to cut them off, saying "don't be sad, don't be angry" it will not be helpful in overcoming those emotions, they need to be seen and validated.

This is a summary/paraphrased from the last part of Ustadha Zaynabs talk Allah bless her and her family for the wisdom she shares. Forgive me for any mistakes and Duas for success for us all having these challenges! Sukaynah

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

الحمدلله رب العالمين

اللهم صل على سيدنا محمد و على اله و صحبه و سلم

These are the few takeaways i learned from Ustadha Zaynab's class "Raising Children" last night (apologies for any mistakes or shortcomings):

Hubabah Ummu Salim never asked her children for her rights. Despite being busy doing charity work, teaching and doing other things, Hubabah Ummu Salim always perform her duty well as a mother at home.

Because Ustadha Zaynab's mother, Hubabah Ummu Salim is always there with the children, she is able to solve whatever issue in the home quickly. Ustadha Zaynab said her parents don't bring up the idea of birrul walidain on the children. Meaning they don't impose it on them.

(Instead, they are more concern about fulfilling the rights of others and performing their duty as parents.)

Hubabah Ummu Salim also don't burden or tell every single thing thats happening to their child to Sayyidi Habib Umar Al-Hafidz.

Sometimes when a child hits his siblings while arguing or fighting over something, there must be a message that he/she is trying to convey. Since they are still young, they do not know how to voice out.

We should do our best to find what the message is and to address it. If not, it will persist.

Sometimes it may be because he needs some time alone with the parent, far away from his siblings, etc.

Ustadha Zaynab said, we should let our children learn to take care of themselves.

Let them complete their own tasks.

Even when we see they are having difficulty, let them complete it themselves in order not to let them feel inadequate. Let them try.

If we were to rush and quickly help them without letting them try and complete their tasks, it will lower or kill their confidence in being able to fulfill it themselves.

Cause sometimes we as parents we're always in a rush.

Let them to look after their own things first. Like tidying up their room.

And then move on to around the house.

Do it step by step.

Step by step meaning, show them and teach them 1st how to tidy up the room, the bed, etc and then let them help you out with it and then let them do it themselves while you just observe.

Don't push them exceeding their ability and don't put too much high expectation or standard in them doing things perfectly.

When they are done doing their tasks, we should show them how please we are and how happy we are with them and we should thank them for fulfilling the tasks.

And if they didn't do a good job in something, don't bring them down by being negative or say negative things.

Make them feel the difference before and after they help you out.

Meaning, "Oh, i was feeling tired but Alhamdulilah you helped me out with the dishes and now it's all done."

Show them and tell them how much you appreciate their help.

If we have more than 1 child, look at their inclination. If one is more into cooking, we let them help with the cooking.

We should not come hard on our children in times when they're tired or don't feel like doing the task we ask them to.

To teach the children good adab is actually us showing them good example and being a good role model.

How we deal with our husband on a daily basis for example is being observed by the children and from there they can see how we are.

If we are always negative and get upset easily with every single thing our children do, this will affect how they have adab towards us.

We should encourage our children to accept the good and the bad of people.

Because no one is perfect.

Children of Adam all make mistakes.

And those who are the best are the one who make mistakes and repent.

The mother should exhibit good example by making tawbah when making a mistake and we should teach our children to do the same.

We should put values in their heart.

Whatever positive way that the children has for the father, we should share with the father to bring a positive effect.

We should try to adorn oneself and our children with good character.

We should let the child know that everything they do are being watched by Allah.

Let them have a feeling of connectedness to Allah.

The Quran is like an Instruction Manual for us.

The Developmental Stages and Physiological Changes:

Surah Al Hadid, 20.

First stage: First 7 years is about play

Second stage: 7 - 14 years is about distraction

Third stage: 14 - early 20s is about adornment and appearance

Fourth stage: People began to boast the things that have acquired, the wealth.

Fifth stage: Competition/rivalry

Ustadha Zaynab touched on the first stage last night. Which is the years of play.

During the time of Imam Al Haddad r.a, he heard the coughing of a child in his gathering and asked who's this child among us?

And he found out that the father is among them.

And Imam Al Haddad r.a asked, why did you bring him here?

The father said, they wanted to gain benefit from this gathering.

Imam Al Haddad r.a told the father to let the child go and play and he (the father), can later on share what he learned and bring the benefit to his child.

Cause the child is at the stage of his life where he should be playing.

So let the child play to fulfill his needs of playing before the day ends.

If the child doesn't fulfill his needs in this stage, it will come later in the later stage of his life and it will become an issue for him later and it will become inappropriate.

A young child who wants to play is like a pot of boiling water.

A child feels an intense desire to want to play.

So we either turn off the fire or remove the lid.

We need to have a proper engagement for each level.

We as parents need to monitor what they see and hear.

The hearing and the eyesight are the openings/windows to their heart.

It's really important to choose what we would like to expose to our child when they're playing.

We should pay attention to what they consume through their ears and eyes.

Pay alot of attention and care with how they are playing with the toys and activities.

We need to know how the child are playing.

And how we are playing with the child.

We should give them what they require and deserve in this stage of their life without anything that is harmful.

It's really important we see the nature and types of activities/toys we give our child as some of it may contain negative aspect and it may be vile and foul.

Rasulullah ﷺ, he himself play with children.

He ﷺ would run with them, let the kids climb on his blessed body.

Fear Allah with regards to your children and give them your time, what will benefit them and enrich them.

Don't leave their needs unfulfilled so they won't go and do things that won't benefit them.

We should give them our time and in sha Allah they will feel fulfilled and won't need to find other sources to fulfill their desires.

Meaning, we ourselves play with our children, be there for them, spend quality time with them so they don't need to go out and find other people to play with them.

Cause if the child needs to go out and play with other kids in the neighbourhood or down the block, we do not know if they are having the same principles as our household or not (in a matter of Manhaj, Prophetic ways, etc) and our child can get influence by them.

There was a Habib (i couldn't catch the name) who moved from Hadramaut to Mecca for a call of duty.

He has children.

But despite having duties of calling people to Allah and teaching, he would always used to go to the yard and would spend time and play with his children.

He did that so he can fulfill their needs of playing instead of letting them go out and find other sources or play with other children who may not be showing good examples or who may have a different upbringing.

They exerted themselves with siddiq (truthfulness) with their children.

Add on:

This was taken from Ustadha F.M Facebook on Prophetic Parenting.

"One thing that Sayyidi Habib Umar Al-Hafidz has done is that, as you can see, he has built this house with a big outdoor area for the children to play with. He has made it so big that they have no need to play elsewhere. He also ensures that the ground of the courtyard is sand and not cement or stone because there's a spiritual secret in sand and children grow up well in sand (it is related that sand is the growing place of children). They need sand to grow up healthy physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally.

This compound that Sayyidi Habib Umar Al-Hafidz has built protects his children from bad influences found outside and keeps them pure. Sayyidi Habib himself raises his children. He is never too busy for them."

May Allah ease our affairs and grant us taufeeq in being able to follow the footsteps of our Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, the pious predecessors and our teachers in raising our children.

May Allah grant us success in this dunya and akhirah. 🌹

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

الحمدلله رب العالمين

اللهم صل على سيدنا محمد و على اله و صحبه و سلم

Session 5 on Raising Children with Ustadha Zaynab bint Habib Umar Al-Hafidz

These are the few takeaways i learned from Ustadha Zaynab's class last night (apologies for any mistakes or shortcomings):

Ustadha Zaynab answered a question regarding having more than 1 children and how do we do activities with them and spend time with them.

Ustadha Zaynab said, having more than 1 children has benefits and difficulties (challenges).

The benefits would be, when we have given the right guidance and tarbiyah to the first child, the younger siblings will tend to follow the eldest.

And also, having siblings means we don't have to spend too much time playing with them as they can play with each other.

Challenges would be, different child would have different needs and we would need to cater to them and need to spend quality time with each of them individually.

Ustadha Zaynab said, spending quality time can just be for about 10 minutes a day with each child.

Asking them how they are, how's their day, just talking and connecting with them.

Or maybe performing housework like folding the clothes, sorting the socks, making homemade ice cream etc.

It may be a chore for us but it's fun for the kids.

Ustadha Zaynab said, we should not use this time to reprimand them and all that.

But more of connecting and being comfortable with each other.

Ustadha Zaynab was sharing about a mother (i am not too sure if Ustadha Zaynab was referring to her mother, Hubabah Ummu Salim or someone else) who when she was pregnant with a child, she would read the Quran abundantly and let the child listen to the Quran.

She would read with a beautiful voice.

And when the child was about 4 years old, he heard surah Fajr, he stopped playing and went to listen to the Quran recitation.

The mother asked the child, "You stopped playing to listen to the Quran?".

The child replied, "How can anyone do anything when the Quran recitation is being played?".

In essence, its the ruh that is attracted to the Quran.

Scholars say, the Quran is like a vaccination for the child. A vaccination from spiritual diseases.

The Quran has an effect on the soul.

When the Quran is recited beautifully, it will have a positive impact on them.

We can expose the child to the Quran by letting them listen to the Quran, in abundance.

We can start exposing them to the Quran since they're in the womb when we're pregnant.

There is no need to force the child to sit down and have wudhu and have proper adab when listening to the Quran.

Just let them listen to the Quran on the background with beautiful tajwid and it will have a good impact on the ruh.

It is best for younger kids to memorise the Quran while on the move as opposed to an adult where they will be seated down. I think its called kinesthetic.

One of the best timing to learn the Quran or to listen to it, is when the child 1st wakes up (when he is not anxious or busy with anything) or when the child is eating.

And also between the Maghrib and Isha prayer, as it has a huge effect on the person, the Quran has a connection to this time.

It would be good to let the child listen to the same Surah over and over again for about 1 or 2 weeks until we are sure they have absorb it.

And when the right time comes, we can sit down with them with a nice mood and comfortable position and we can start reciting the Surah and let them recite back to you verse by verse, and we will be shocked at how well they are able to memorise the surah.

A small child will be able to absorb whatever they listen to very well.

Like a sponge.

Hence we would be missing a golden opportunity if we miss this.

We can begin with Surah Fatihah and short surahs starting from the back.

And also Ayatul Kursi. We can teach our children to recite it as a form of protection. Recite when entering and exiting the house.

Another good time to expose the child to the Quran is when it is time to sleep, we can recite it along with them the surah they have memorised but don't make it a chore.

We can make it a comfortable and soothing tune for them to hear.

Once the child starts to memorise, try to bring the story of the Surah.

Like in Surah Al Fil.

Understand the meanings behind the surah.

Also the Quran is filled with stories. Stories of the Prophets, etc.

Bring the actual verse when we're story telling and recite it in a beautiful voice.

Ustadha Zaynab then answered a question about play.

Majority of the time, the child will make a role play of what they see in life.

With regards what to engage them in, what the child is interested in, will be what the child unfolds in the future.

If the child is engage in something that is not good for her religiosity, we should pull them away from it.

For example if we have a son and a daughter, and the son put on the sister's clothes and put on a wig, do not laugh and take out a camera to take a photo and call other people to look and laugh at it.

The child may get the wrong impression.

Same thing, if the child did a good deed, we should make a big deal out of it.

Ustadha Zaynab shared, her grandmother, Hubabah Zahra (may Allah have mercy upon her) told a story, when Sayyidi Habib Umar Al-Hafidz was about 4 or 5 years old, a neighbour came and to the house and said, i made repentance through your son, Umar.

Hubabah Zahra (may Allah have mercy upon her) asked, how come?

The neighbour answered, my window overlooked part of your roof and your son was giving a sermon about lying and repentance and when i heard him, i made tawbah.

And then the next day, Hubabah Zahra (may Allah have mercy upon her) told her husband, Habib Muhammad bin Salim (may Allah have mercy upon him) about the neighbour overhearing the sermon of their child, Umar at the balcony/roof.

Later on, they decided to go up to the roof to see and hear it for themselves.

They saw that their son had wrapped around a bottle with a string and connected it to the container.

Sayyidi Habib Umar Al-Hafidz has made the bottle as a "microphone" and the container as the "speaker".

And this is where he would go to give sermon and lectures.

And his siblings said, Sayyidi Habib Umar Al-Hafidz would do this since the age of 3.

They would sit around him and let him give sermon and lectures and they would listen to him.

How Sayyidi Habib Umar Al-Hafidz was as a child, retains all the way back to his father.

Habib Muhammad bin Salim (may Allah have mercy upon him) would always bring his son along to his lecture.

Sayyidi Habib Umar Al-Hafidz at that time, as a child, would said the lecture was so long and he couldn't understand anything.

So Habib Muhammad bin Salim (may Allah have mercy upon him) would take out a sweet and encourage him.

And Sayyidi Habib Umar Al-Hafidz would say, that is the only time he will be getting sweets.

Ustadha Zaynab said, her grandfather, Habib Muhammad bin Salim (may Allah have mercy upon him) had given plenty of play time for Sayyidi Habib Umar Al-Hafidz daily as a child and so was able to bring him to lectures and dakwah.

Ustadha Zaynab mentioned, if the child had plenty of play, then there is nothing wrong to feed them with elements of tarbiyah by bringing him to the mosque, gathering of knowledge, etc.

The child would eventually play out, with what they see. And it will have an impact on how they understand things.

So its really important we understand this. So we can nurture our children to what is enriching and that is good and Godly.

Habib Muhammad bin Salim (may Allah have mercy upon him), would bring his son Sayyidi Habib Umar Al-Hafidz along for dakwah trips.

When they went for dakwah, Sayyidi Habib Umar Al-Hafidz was exposed to different cultures, therefore his mind matures and appreciate things.

When Sayyidi Habib Umar Al-Hafidz got married and have children, when he go out for dakwah, he would also bring one of the children (boys and girls) each time, for exposure and also to lighten the load of Hubabah Ummu Salim.

Ustadha Zaynab encouraged us to bring our children out to the nature and let them use their 5 senses. We do this by letting them listen to the sound of the bird and ask them who created the bird, who can speak to them.

Or smelling oranges, and asking them who created it and does it smell differently from other fruits?

Link the creation to the Creator.

Ustadha Zaynab pointed out about trying to keep the kids away from plastic (non-natural, or manmade materials) toys. And instead play with something of naturally made, like wood.

In a Hadith, there is a mentioned about, its like the spring of children when they are engaged in sand and the earth.

Ustadha Zaynab also encouraged parents to move away from pushchairs/prams and walker and instead allow them to be free. And not restricted.

If we have an outdoor space like swing, slide and out in the open, we should try bringing them there.

Ustadha Zaynab said, Sayyidi Habib Umar Al-Hafidz would often play with them and also take the swing with them while reciting poetry with them and words of the pious predecessors and he would bring them to nature.

Like places with trees or just sit on the roof and play there (In Tarim, the roof is flat and usually has an opened space).

Let the child to break free from the 4 walls and go out.

Sayyidi Habib Umar Al-Hafidz would take them around the outside of the house, just to walk around the house to let them walk (without prams, cars) and then come back into the house.

Ustadha Zaynab mentioned that Sayyidi Habib Umar Al-Hafidz still does this with his grandchildren. 🥰

Ustadha Zaynab said, in a narration, Sayyidina Hassan r.a and Sayyidina Hussein r.a was wrestling or playing and, Rasulullah ﷺ was cheering on Sayyidina Hassan r.a.

Sayyidah Fatimah Az-Zahra saw this and asked Rasulullah ﷺ, what about Hussein?

Rasulullah ﷺ replied, "I am cheering Hassan because Jibrail a.s is cheering Hussein."

Ustadha Zaynab also mentioned another narration where Sayyidina Abu Bakr r.a walked into the room and saw Sayyidina Hassan r.a and Sayyidina Hussein r.a riding on top of Rasulullah ﷺ as a horse.

Sayyidina Abu Bakr r.a said, "What a blessed ride you are on."

And Rasulullah ﷺ replied, "What blessed riders they are."

Ustadha Zaynab said, the importance of play is so vital that, even Jibrail a.s was part of it. 😊

And Ustadha Zaynab said, to have intentions when playing with our children to perform the sunnah.

Ma sha Allah, such an insightful class.

May Allah ease our affairs as parents in giving the best tarbiyah in raising our children.

May Allah grant us taufeeq.

Cause, parenting is indeed hardwork and requires lotsss of patience and plenty of duas. 😭

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