So here I am, always ending up to find myself attending a course here and there in KL. And I think that's only because KL has all these fantastic courses with an equally impressive line up of speakers that I feel that I wouldn't be doing justice to myself if I were not to be in attendance. Today, and tomorrow as well, I am attending Al-Kauthar's Parenting Matters, The Art of Raising Righteous Children Seminar.
Okay, the seminar has not ended, but I am indeed very, very excited to write on one parenting method which the speaker, Sheikh Alaa Elsayed has shared with us this afternoon (and this explains the sudden motivation to blog, because if I don't, I might forget it). Among the various methods that we can use to nurture a child's development, i.e. storytelling, direct and open communication, encouragement, praise etc etc, is one term which is called "word association".
Children normally look up to their parents and people who are close to them such as the grandparents, maid, school teacher, classmates, cousins etc, therefore whatever we do and say in front of them would have an effect to how they perceive the world. For example, if we were awed by a stunt which we had watched in the tv or movie, and then praised the actor for doing such a good job/ stunt, children would associate doing similar activities as something praiseworthy and then try to imitate such actions. That is why nowadays we see there are numerous videos on YouTube of children as young as 2 years old being able to dance like Beyonce, do karate like Bruce Lee and retell the Red Riding Hood tale from memory. It is simply due to practice (of course) and the praise of their parents/ guardians on how great they were doing those stuff.
Children live by praise and they absolutely love to be praised (as would any other normal human beings), it's just that as adults we tend to take a more humble approach when someone comes up and gives us praise. Therefore to encourage (or discourage) them, we should be aware of the words that we use, as children would then associate those words and give them meaning. For example, if you would like your child to have a good role model (which you want them to look up to) then you should relate your praise to that role model. Let's say you want them to take on the Prophet Muhammad p.b.u.h. as an example, then associate what they are doing with what the Prophet does. If they share their toys/ food with another child, then you can say, Mashaa Allah, you are following in the footsteps of the Prophet for he also love to share his food with his companions. Then you could perhaps end the praise with a story of the Prophet. Similarly, if you want to stop them from doing an act like shouting and screaming, then if you catch them shouting and screaming (and even fighting) say astaghfirullah, and explain why we don't scream or shout to each other. The child would then associate the words Mashaa Allah with a good act and astaghfirullah with a bad act.
Similarly, for parents who would like to encourage their child to become doctors, engineers, or even religious scholars, you could start by adding the title "Dr/ Engineer/ Sheikh etc" before their name. However, other parents might find this to be suffocating to the child or even cause excessive pressure towards the child so proceed with caution. In my opinion, it would be a good thing, i.e. positive reinforcement is always a good thing, but only if I feel that my child is comfortable with the title. If he or she looks uncomfortable, then maybe we can discuss about the matter and drop the title. Knowing kids, the girls would definitely go to various phases such as Princess, then Doctor, then Engineer, whatever. Which is not a problem. But make sure you are guiding your child towards becoming a more confident individual who knows that he or she is capable to achieving their goal and knows how to go about it (with the help of supportive parents, of course).
In regards to the parenting course, I find it to be extremely beneficial. Even just by attending half a day (I had class this morning) I have learnt a lot and I look forward to learning more tomorrow. I believe that as a parent, we all try our best for our children and often times there may be occasions that we feel guilty due to certain actions that we make (well, I know I do). There even may be people who (gleefully) point out what they deem to be "mistakes" that we are making. Believe me when I say, if you are doing you're best, Allah knows and inshaa Allah things will turn out to be the best. But when things get hard, make dua'a because a mother's dua'a for the child is the best dua'a. Imam al-Sudais credits his mom to be the cause of him becoming the Imam of the Haram and even Imam al-Bukhari (who was blind as a child) was able given back sight because of his mother's tenacity in making dua'a. Especially when you are angry at your child (due to whatever mischief that they have managed to land themselves in) that is the best times to make dua'a, and this is as evidenced by Imam al-Sudais. He mentioned that whenever he made mischief and made his mom angry, his mom would say, May Allah make you the Imam of the Haram. Mashaa Allah, her words came true.
Am definitely going to practice word association with Alexa. May Allah make her a hafiza (memoriser of the Quran), Ameen!
To becoming better parents.
xoxo Mrs Fashionista