Teaching your child respect: Getting rid of that bad attitude
As parents, we have all been there: you work all day, run around after the children, laundry, cooking, homework AND working in little treats and fun for your child. Nearly every waking moment is with them in mind, praying and striving to give them the best life and upbringing you can. But instead of pleasant attitude and a harmonious house, you are met with disrespect and rudeness.
Although this is a common trait of children between the ages of 7 and 10 years old, when it happens time after time, it can begin to leave a bitter taste in your mouth. You love your child and will do anything for them but you are a human with emotions and feelings too – why can’t your child be kind and respectful in return?
Eye-rolls, insolence, sighing and huffing, a lack of manners and challenging behaviour are all common complaints of parents of this age group. Some may say it’s part and parcel of the role of the parent, something we have to bear but is that really true? And more importantly – is it right?
Lessons in self-restraint.
As Muslims, we should realise the full importance of raising a child who understands and displays appropriate Islamic behaviour – both towards you and to themselves.
Firstly, Islaam places great emphasis on respect and honour. Treating each other with kindness, performing acts of charity, using polite words and affording each other respect are essential. We are all no doubt familiar with the hadeeth about ‘Your mother, your mother, you mother’* which stresses the importance of respect. So when we are met with sullen speech and rudeness, we can’t help but be disappointed and also reminded of the following:
And your Lord has decreed that you not worship except Him, and to parents, good treatment. Whether one or both of them reach old age [while] with you, say not to them [so much as], “uff,” and do not repel them but speak to them a noble word. (Quraan, 17:23)
Secondly, we also need to consider that the way we behave as Muslims also directly impacts on the impression others receive of Islaam. Our actions – and those of our children – are a reflection on our religion and can form a great part of da’awah. When our children are rude to us, particularly in public, it can give food for thought as to how that may be perceived by non-Muslims looking on.
Lessons in love.
So how can we do something about this? How do we instil understanding, respect, and gratitude? How do we banish that bad attitude for good?
- Model respectful behaviour – the lessons start with you. As our children’s biggest teachers, it is vital that we show them how to behave. When you are tired, it is easy to snap a little. When you have been disrespected, it’s all too understandable that your tone may be harsh. Try to develop the habit of speaking respectfully to your child and others, whatever the situation.
- Have sabr – and teach it. One of the greatest gifts you can teach your child is the gift of patience. Sabr (patience) is not just bearing what has been bestowed upon you, it is retaining control of your emotions. Teach your child that they can speak about what is bothering them while still having sabr. Listening to their feelings and opinions is important, just remind them to exercise sabr in expressing these to you.
- Teach gratitude – in today’s world, most of our children live amazing, comfortable lives. A quick lesson in how others live will do them no harm. Impress on them how fortunate they are by explaining that many do not even have a roof over their heads, let alone the latest games, toys and clothes. Take them to a charity event and teach them about what is going on in the world.
- Explain how being kind and respectful is actually of benefit to the child – even if they can’t see it. Children of this age group often act from a self-centred place. If they cannot see the benefit in something to themselves, they may be reluctant to engage with you in the way you need. Try to teach your child that acting rudely and disrespectfully towards you will have repercussions for them. For one, lay down some clear consequences (deducting pocket money, treats, screen time). Also explain how others perceive them when they act in this way
- Flip it around – ask them how they may feel. At age 7, most children have developed a degree of empathy. They know enough to be able to imagine how something may feel if it happened to them. Remind them of this and teach them to reflect upon it.
Teaching your child to speak and behave respectfully towards you will not be an overnight fix. Children have emotions just like any other person and when they behave rudely towards you, they are letting these emotions speak because they lack the self-control that is needed. When you are teaching your child to be respectful and kind, you are essentially teaching them to learn self-restraint – a valuable skill but a difficult lesson for any child in this age group.
To help you, we have developed stories in the Ummah Stars App to use as a resource and to provoke conversation with your child. With a little imagination and relatable scenarios, the Ummah Stars App can be the key to unlocking understanding of how to behave and how they can earn the pleasure of Allaah, in shaa Allaah. Try the app for free today.