Know Your Child Q&A

By Engr. Naveed Qamar

Director ‘Foundation of EffectiveEducation and Learning’ (FEEL)

Motivational speaker.

Conductsworkshops on:

– Parenting

– Husband-Wife Relationship

– Time Management

– Strategic Vision

– Leadership Qualities

My husband doesn’t like my children watching cartoons. I have to engage them somewhere while working in the kitchen, etc. I am disobeying my husband, which isn’t okay, I know. But what should I do?

Dr. Shumaila, Lahore

First of all, your husband is absolutely correct. If we compare two children, one who watches cartoons and the other who has never watched cartoons; there would be a huge difference in their ethics, attachment with their parents, and many more things.

Nowadays, on average, a woman has two or three children, but, if we go back 30 years, we find that, a mother had around 10 children. Those mothers were able to manage their 12-member families in a well-organized way as compared to today’s mothers. How?

Despite a tough routine, they remained happy with their lives and with their children. However, modern mothers are under great stress even when they have only two or three children, and if there are children without any gap, engaging a 24/7 maid is compulsory in this situation. The reality is that children need attention as well as attachment. Their need is not being fulfilled by their parents, because we feel uncomfortable with our children due to their noisy behavior, which, again, they have learned from cartoons. So, they try to fulfil their need in other things and cartoons are the most popular way. Instead of their parents, they are attached to Barbie, Ben10 and several other characters like these. Because these characters give them as much time as they demand from these characters, whereas, parents are unfortunately, ‘busy’, and therefore, don’t have time to talk to their children. Whenever they talk to their children, they yell. “Do this and don’t do this….” Thereby, repelling them.

I have seen some children in my family, who are as young as 2 years old and they help their mothers in the kitchen. The reason for this is; they are completely attached to their elders and don’t refuse anything they say. Their elders fulfill the needs of their children and the children in return help instead of irritating them.

Even then, the father should give some relaxation to the mother in handling the house. Sometimes, a meal may be served a little late, a room may not be that tidy, shoes may not be polished, etc. because the lady of the house now has to look after more than one person. This doesn’t mean that I am giving a clean chit to the mothers to forget their husbands. Husbands must be at the top of the priority list. The wife is supposed to fulfil all the basic requirements of her husband, maintaining a very healthy balance among the husband and the children.

You wrote in your article that parents should be frank with their children. I don’t agree, sorry. The reason is that frankness leads to rudeness and then to disobedience. Am I wrong?

  1. Yasir, Multan

No need to say sorry. One can disagree with me. No issues.

Just conveying my point of view, one can again disagree, no problem at all.

Frankness does not imply that one should become a child with the children. Frankness means to play with children; listen to them and realize that we are their friends as well. A father or a man has natural pressure and influence at home and that natural pressure is sufficient for children. A man should not have excessive pressure on the kids.

The conduct of our Holy Prophet (PBUH) with children was of course the best among all of mankind. Hassan and Hussain (RA), when they were children, once rode on him when he prostrated during prayer and he did not move so that the children would not fall.

What do we do when a child does the same and we are doing something important? Most of us yell, “kiahytumhay? Badtameez!” “What is the problem with you? You ill-mannered child!” Is there anything more important than prayer?

Another example from the life of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) is that whenever he returned from any war, the children of Madina used to gather around him (PBUH) and our Prophet used to play with them and crack jokes with them. Now, the question arises why children did not behave rudely with the Holy Prophet (PBUH)? Why the frankness of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) with children did not spoil them? He (PBUH) is, of course, the right man to be followed. Adding a point, that a healthy balance needs to be maintained.

Children break things at homes. They don’t understand and things become embarrassing especially when there are guests at home. How should we deal with such critical situations? 

Rashid Ali, Gujranwala

Yes, this is a very practical question.

What do we think about children? Irresponsible, careless, ineligible, and insensible. Wrong assumptions, which must be replaced with the right ones i.e. children are responsible, careful and sensible. If we ignore their mistakes and provide them opportunities to learn from mistakes, which is a self-learning process, I believe and have observed that they behave in the most sensible and responsible way.

Let’s suppose there are some sensitive things placed at a table and your child is playing with them, transporting from the table to some other place. What do we do? We start yelling at them, “Ohh! What are you doing? You have scattered all the things here. Place all the things back. Just do it immediately.” Now, the child has two options; one, to place the things back, second, disobey you and keep playing with them because the things are very attractive for the child and the child is ready to pay the cost of a slap to enjoy the things.

Now, here’s how to handle the situation. Never ever lose your temper. Don’t shout at the innocent child. The child will play and will place the things himself at the place where he picked them from, which one of my teammates has experienced at his home. His daughter does exactly the same. Her parents don’t say anything to the baby. She plays with the things and her parents appreciate her, conveying their trust and confidence in her. The child places each and everything at the right place after playing.

It is said that every child is born on one natural pattern and it embedded in his or her nature; he or she tries to construct things instead of destroy them. Islam is also called the religion of nature which constructs only. Islam teaches us to organize things in a better way, deal with others fairly, practicing honesty, etc. So children also try to do things constructively.

Now what happens is quite interesting. When a child carries a glass to transport it to another place, we start shouting at him, “You will drop it. Ohh! Be careful, etc.” When we repeat such words, the kid gets confused and the glass drops from his or her hand. It is not so that the child drops the glass but, sorry to say, our yelling drops the glass. Then we say, “Lo! You have dropped the glass. I knew it already. I asked you a thousand times not to pick it.” This attitude of ours further shakes the confidence of the child and he realizes that he can’t do this.

Once, I was conducting a workshop and I asked one of the participants to bring me water. When he was pouring water into the glass, I started asking him to be very careful and not let a drop of water fall on the ground. I repeated it again and again and astonishingly, he dropped the water on the ground. Now the participants said that I made him drop the water by shaking his confidence. I said, “We do the same with our sweet children.”

We should put all our trust in the abilities of our children and let them do things which build their confidence. Even if something goes wrong like the dropping a glass, we should not start lecturing the child on his carelessness. Children are rational human beings and they learn from their mistakes. They themselves will learn how to correct themselves. They should be given positive reinforcement and confidence building responses that we trust them and consider them responsible. When we convey positive expectations to anyone, that person tries his or her best to fulfill expectations. Even if children do not come up to our expectation, we should not make them feel that they have failed our expectations.

Children fight each other at homes. The elder beating the younger one, etc. Any solution?

Babar Iqbal, Kasur

This is a psychological matter and it exists among children. I will make this clear by an example which, I often quote in workshops held with mothers. Women grasp this example very clearly. I say; suppose your husband marries another woman and brings her into your own home. She is younger to you and your husband. In front of you, he praises her beauty and also asks you to take care of her and share your belongings with her. They, women, express a great displeasure with such kinds of suppositions. Actually, sharing or division of belongings and love creates prejudice and jealousy among women and this jealousy and prejudice develops into hatred.

In the same way, when a child is born and grows in a house and after some time another child is born, the first child considers the second one his or her competitor. Now, he or she feels the division or loss of love and attention, which is now directed towards the younger one. The elder child feels that the younger one has deprived him or her of all that parental love and attention. The older one is also asked to take care of the younger one and these things annoy him or her, and creates jealousy. He tries to seek revenge from the younger one by slapping him or harming in some other way whenever he or she any chance. So, the parents should be very cautious and careful. They should provide equal attention and love to all their children. Balance is a must!

I was conducting a workshop and a woman told me that her three-year-old child did not take care of his younger brother. I was surprised to hear this; she was expecting her a three year old child to take care of the younger one. I told her that she did not know what was going on in her older child’s mind i.e. how insecure he was feeling about his younger brother.

It is imperative to share everything i.e. material or affection among children, equally. For example, if you kiss a child, all your children should be kissed in the same way. If you hug any of your children, you should hug all the others in the same way.

There is another beautiful example from the life of our Holy Prophet (PBUH) which further elaborates this point of view. Every holy companion (thousands in number) of the Prophet (PBUH) claimed that he (PBUH) loved him the most. In other words, the Holy Prophet dealt with every companion in such a way that he considered himself most beloved to him (PBUH). How is it possible that each of the holy companions thought so? This is my question for readers to ponder upon.

On the other hand, we have two or three children, but we fail to make them realize that they are our beloved ones. This competitiveness among children lasts for their whole life. They consider their siblings as usurpers of parental love and attention. Later on, this creates serious troubles in families.

This jealousy and competitiveness among siblings are the root causes of quarrels among them. I often ask people about these quarrels among their children and enquire, “Who is, most of the time, thrashed by their sibling?” They tell me, “The youngest one. The middle one. Etc.” I tell them, whosoever, among their children, is beloved to them; will be thrashed most of the time by his or her siblings. They, siblings, take away the beloved one on the pretext of something and, as soon as they find any chance, they beat him. This is a revenge situation and it is created by the parents. Parents should behave very carefully while dealing with their children and must show equality and equity in every matter among their children.


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