Enjoy this informative and enlightening interview with Umm Safiyyah, author of THE MUSLIM FAMILY GUIDE TO THE EARLY YEARS (0-5 Years)
Umm Safiyyah: Author of
The Muslim Family Guilde to the Early Years
We are very pleased to have as our guest Umm Safiyyah Bint Najmaddin author of The Muslim Parents Guide to the Early Years. Umm Safiyyah has written a wonderful book full of helpful ideas on parenting young Muslim children and more. This book is a must have for mothers in need of ways to enrich their children’s environment both secularly and Islamically. Thank you so much and Jazakalakhair for joining us Umm Safiyyah. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background. I was born in London, England in a private and conservative home with 2 brothers. I had a lot of contact with my first cousins (there were around 50 of them) and this compensated for the quietness of the home. Hence, I have always been surrounded by children. Naturally, straight after high school, this led me to acquire a Diploma in Child Care and Education. After working with children as a student assistant in schools and as a nursery nurse in private day care for a few years, I wanted to examine and gain a deeper understanding and knowledge of children. This led me to study a degree in psychology as I had a particular interest in child development. During my degree, I took a few gap years as I was expecting my first child. Throughout this time, I had encountered many other mothers who required help and direction in combining education and Islam. This was something that I was also struggling with. I could not locate any books at the time, which prompted me to do something about it. As a result of this, I wrote the book “Muslim Parents Guide to the Early Years.” After my degree and having 2 children, I identified another gap in which Muslim families needed help. This was with children who were or had previously suffered with some sort of distress or trauma. Due to my background, experience and knowledge of psychology, I wrote the book “Supporting Young Children through Distressing Times.”
How long have you been a nursery nurse and what led you into this field? I have been professionally involved with children for a good 12 years. I have worked as a nursery nurse and early year’s practitioner in a private nursery for approximately five years and as a nursery teacher for one year in a private Muslim school. Over the years, I have also carried out one-to-one tuitions, run a toddler group, held a crèche for a Muslim retreat dawah institute and mosque, and supported mothers with creating ideas for their child’s development through activities. Having a large extended family with many young cousins has resulted in me always being been around children. I have always had a caring nature, and I knew that I wanted to work with children one day. At the age of 16, high school was coming to a close and so I looked at courses that included children. With the encouragement of my father, I decided to enrol on the course. I assumed that working as a nursery nurse; I would soon study further and become a qualified teacher. However, I found myself comfortable working in the Early Years and hope to extend my knowledge and experience with others to support the Muslim Ummah through literature, and inshallah other business ventures.
How many children do you have and what are their ages? I have three girls. A curious 5 year old who is into martial arts, a sensitive three year old who loves sparkles and a noisy 4 week old that does not let mummy get much sleep.
What have you found to be the biggest challenge in raising your children aged 0 to 5? Every mother has different challenges that they face, from tantrums, feeding difficulties to their child’s personalities. Personally, my biggest challenge is keeping my children remaining children. With the constant media entertainment, my children may pick up bad habits and be exposed to things such as magic and romance. Although I try my best to control it within my household by doing things like not having a television in the house, things such as educational material on the internet or DVDs still include such things. I would rather that my young children were not exposed to these things just yet. Sometimes I am torn - do I let them watch it? Or do I shield them from it? However I have learnt to carefully and clearly explain the things that are real, and what others do differently in order for them to understand. This prevents them from thinking that the things they see are the norm, and it protects them from being influenced. Therefore I take the opportunity to educate them about the world we live in.
How can mothers with numerous children give each child the personal time he/or she needs? It is different for each family as it depends on the age and number of children in the family. For example in my case, having a new born and two home-schooled children under five can be a challenge. It’s really about trying to find that balance and understanding of each child’s individual needs. For instance, do they need emotional attention? Help with homework? A constant crying baby needs to be held? Here are some points I would recommend: 1 Having family or social support always helps. For example having your mother, friend or husband look after the other children while you give attention to one. 2 When you are in conversation or helping one child with their homework, make it clear to the other children that they should not interrupt. This will enable them to learn when it is their turn that they will not be interrupted. 3 If they are close together in age, spend time together doing something that requires them to take turns. This will allow you to give direct attention to one child at a time. You can do this by playing games. When they get the right answer, show excitement and direct eye contact. 4 Plan ahead and organise your day. 5 Distract other children with things they may enjoy such as a toys, programme or set up an art and craft activity for them whilst giving attention to another child. 6 Use nap times as a tool. When one child is asleep, give another child their personal time.
In your book, you mention reasons why children may be disruptive. Can you please mention some of those reasons for our audience? Disruptive behaviour does not necessarily mean the child is out of control or “bad,” as there are many reasons why a child may act this way. Sometimes it is simply because children cannot express themselves which leads to frustration or it could be something you may not even be aware of, such as abuse. Therefore getting to the bottom of the problem is easy such as a child who is hungry but cannot express it. This can lead them to become disruptive. On the other hand, a child who may have been emotionally abused will take longer for you to understand their reactions during the day. Another example I provide in my book is that a child may merely be impatient, imitating someone or even just bored. In more serious cases of disruptive behaviour other than abuse is a child reacting to problems at home between husband and wife or even other traumas.You also give constructive ways of managing disruptive behavior. What are some of those ways? Different children will act out in various ways and for many reasons as mentioned above. Trying to control this behaviour can be a real challenge at times. There are many methods of supporting children through this behaviour, one of which is through sticker charts. Most young children love stickers especially if it is something they like such as flowers and butterflies. Having a chart on the wall at their level of height will allow them to see their progress and remind them of what they are achieving. If they do something good or for example become disruptive just before bed time because they do not want to brush their teeth, they could be motivated and rewarded by putting a sticker on their chart, this will elevate their self-esteem and make them realise that actually brushing teeth is not so bad! Another method is having time out. This is where you ask a child to sit away from everyone for a little while (however keeping an eye on them to make sure they are safe) and ask them to think about what they have just done. Rather than calling it a naughty corner and developing low self esteem, you can explain to the children that it is time to reflect on what they have just done. For example if the reason for them being in time out is because they were discourteous to you, make sure that they understand this reasoning and learn the appropriate way that they should have acted.In your book, you speak about the need for developing a daily plan. Can you please elaborate more on this? There are different ways to construct plans depending on how you like to organise your day and how busy you usually are. Having things written down helps one with goals during the day and acts as a guide for that day. In my book, I mention a simplified daily plan which consists of things I would like to do in the morning, afternoon and evening rather than having it timed. I also mention how things can overlap each other during the day. For example, one of the things that you may have to do during the afternoon is shopping but you would also like to teach your child something new. You can make this a fun and educational trip for your child and get your shopping done in time to get home to cook. By combining the experience, it means that you do not have to sit with them at home to teach them. Young children learn and absorb information better when they are playing or actually in the situation. For example when in the car on the way to the shop, you can recite dua and Quran. When you are in the shop you can also talk about the vegetables and fruits that are going into the shopping trolley or let them help you by letting them hold the shopping list and reading it together. This will help to stimulate and educate your child about the world around them rather than continuously telling them not to touch the items on the shelves. This plan will help you organise your day and make the most out of it so that you have spare time to rest or do other things for yourself.Please share with us a sample of what one of your own daily plans looks like. As I home school my children, my plan becomes a must. In the morning I look to do the messy play and get it out of the way such as art and craft, paint, play dough, clay etc. Afternoon is usually Islam mixed in with English, science and maths depending on the Islamic subject. For example if we are looking at prophet Yunis and the whale, I then expand this to looking at different sea creatures and their sizes using maths and science. We read, learn new sea animal words and practice writing a letter or so from that animal, which is using the subject of English. In the evening, this is their father time where he sometimes takes them to the mosque, does exercises with them, reads the Quran or just spends time bonding. The plans do change when I need to go shopping or am invited to family or friends houses, but I always allow it all to be a learning experience.Please leave some words of wisdom for our audience. Our children are our amanah from Allah. Therefore we should guide them towards the Quran and Sunnah to the best of our ability; and what best time to do that then when they are young and still under our care. This can be done through many avenues such as teaching them how we should act as humans, praying, what is harmful for the body and what is good, giving tidings of peace when you see another Muslim, understanding the Quran and not only memorising it and so forth. This can be challenging and draining for a mother but Allah will reward you for your patience. One should also remember that it is not only guiding them to the certainty of Allah but also allowing them to feel that love and connection for Allah and the prophet Mohammed peace be upon him in an instinctive, natural manner rather than just perceiving it as a “set of rules.” This will allow them to nurture the next generation and many to come Insha’Allah.We would like to thank Umm Safiyyah for taking time out of her busy schedule to share some of her experiences and wisdom with us. You can pick up a copy of her book by clicking the cover above, or looking it up online, insha'Allah.Jazakalakhair, Umm Safiyyah. And may Allay bless you and your family with the good of this world and the hereafter and protect you from the hellfire.
Grandma Jeddah is the mother of 11 children and 13 grandchildren. She has taught hundreds of students for over 30 years at an Islamic school in Los Angeles, California.This is an excerpt from her 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. Subscribe to her free newsletter at --http://www.grandmajeddah.com