Narrated Sahl bin Sad: A tumbler (full of milk or water) was brought to the Prophet (saw) who drank from it, while on his right side there was sitting a boy who was the youngest of those who were present and on his left side there were old men. The Prophet (saw) asked, "O boy, will you allow me to give it (i.e. the rest of the drink) to the old men?" The boy said, "O Allah's Apostle! I will not give preference to anyone over me to drink the rest of it from which you have drunk." So, the Prophet gave it to him. (Bukhari)
Children need to feel they have some control over their lives. Desiring independence is a natural instinct humans have. Allowing your child the power to decide for himself may be difficult for many mothers to embrace, but such actions are necessary to raise children who can make appropriate decisions for themselves and stand up to adversity and challenges.
Children who are not allowed a certain amount of freedom to choose and make decisions for themselves may become defensive. Excessive commanding, ordering, correcting and overseeing a child’s behavior can sometimes result in a child rebelling against authority. Power struggles are one of the ways children attempt to gain power over their lives. Often the approaches used by children to gain this power are perceived as bad behavior.
When you’re having behavior problems from your child, begin offering him options. Ask your child what he would like for dinner instead of telling him what you’ve decided to cook. “Do you want to go to bed at 8:30 or 8:45?” “Do you want carrots or cabbage for dinner?” For your older child you might ask, “What three days of the week do you want to use the car?”
If you find yourself trying to force your child to comply or do what you want, a power struggle is likely in effect. During times of power struggles, you might resort to excessive means of discipline to get your child to do as instructed. Or, at the other end of the spectrum you might be so drained and frustrated that you simply give in to your child’s demands to eliminate any further conflict. Both measures lead to unproductive results. Excessive measures can lead to you being unjust to your child and can also result in a breakdown in your relationship. On the other hand, if you allow your child to pull your strings and you feed into his argumentative ploy resulting in your failure to act at all, your child will learn that he needn’t respond to your requests.
Find a medium between enforcing your demands and allowing your child the liberty he needs to avoid using a power struggle to achieve his aims.
This is an excerpt from Grandma Jeddah’s e-Book: Discipline without Disrespecting: Discover the Hidden Secrets of How to Effectively Discipline Your Muslim Child—And Keep Your Peace of Mind While at It. To order her e-Book or receive her free newsletter, visit her at www.grandmajeddah.com