Emotional Needs of Our Children When It Comes to "DISCIPLINE" (Pt. 1)

Bismilah Ar Rahmaan Ar Raheem

As salaamu alaykum wa rahmatullah,

When you hear the word discipline what do you think of? Probably being angry at a child, receiving or giving a spanking, or maybe you think of something that is simply rigid? I’d venture to say that like many parents I speak with that your concept of discipline may bring images of something difficult or challenging? Very few people hear the word discipline and have happy or even neutral feelings.

As a parent, it’s very important that we don’t view discipline in a negative narrow sense because we can inadvertently cause our children to turn away from discipline when they need it most. I want you to think of it like this, Islam is full of discipline. As a matter of fact this was one of the things that most intrigued me when I was studying Islam. I saw structure and order which can lead to a fulfilling life where others that study see challenges and rigidity.

Islam is full discipline and we can see it everywhere we turn like how often we pray daily, what times we pray, what time of the year to fast, how to fast, how to perform abulution (wudu), how to perform hajj, etc. All of these things are a form of discipline and we must ask ourselves who does this benefit? The obvious answer is that it benefits us as Muslims however if they are not done, who does it harm? The obvious answer is us as Muslims. The difference in the Muslim who practices those disciplines versus the one that doesn’t is pretty big and the rewards and consequences are also great. The small fact of the matter is that we all will suffer pain but we can choose whether that pain will be the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The pain of discipline weighs ounces while the pain of regret weighs tons.

Our children are an amana (trust) given to us by Allah for a short period of time. We naturally want the best for our children and one of the areas Muslims have many difficulties is on what to do to effectively discipline your child.

I’ve found that many parents fall into 3 camps when it comes to discipline;

  1. Extremist                    (do it my way, severe repercussions, angry)
  2. Experimenter            (pick and choose some things based on current feeling)
  3. Excuser                       (makes excuse for every action of child, no discipline)

I’ve found that the extremist has a certain view of life and how things should be and their children must conform to their view or the child is in violation and must be corrected.

I’ve seen the experimenter use their childhood as a guide and copy what they think they liked growing up and avoid doing what they didn’t like.

I’ve watched the excuser make every excuse not to find fault with their child’s behavior and will give an excuse for anything especially age.

As parent’s we must recognize that discipline is multi-faceted and that the majority of our time, I suggest 90%, should be on what I call training discipline while the remaining 10% should be on corrective discipline.

Training discipline is in effect showing and teaching our children how to behave and why to behave in such a manner according to their age or maturity level. For example, if you have a 5 year old, we teach why we must pick up our toys or why we clean up after we eat which is easy because we can tell them that cleanliness is a part of imaan. However, if you have a 15 year old, though the same principle applies, it would be wiser to ask them questions like “what do you think it means when the Prophet (sws) said, “Cleanliness is a part of imaan?” Followed by a “how do you think that you can demonstrate that in your life?” Naturally as parents we are the leaders and the ones our children look to first so please be sure to practice what you preach because your actions just like anyone else’s speak much louder than your words.

Corrective discipline is needed and we can see this in Islam also. We notice that when Allah talks about sins He references the punishment and its severity while also mentioning the good rewards of those that stay away from sins and those that repent. Allah is directly touching on what motivates us as human beings. The two motivation factors are anticipation of pleasure and the anticipation of pain. We want to draw good toward us while shunning pain. This is a natural part of life and Allah t’ala wants us to desire to get to jannah and has sent us the final Messenger (sws) who has told us how and Allah t’ala tells us of the punishment for those that refuse. This is enough to stir hope and fear in those that believe.

Cont'd with Part II of the 6 Steps of Effective Discipline...

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jazakAllahu khayr,

Nazir binNaseeb

Author of Muslims Parenting on Purpose Vol. 1

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