بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
By Ruhaifa Adil
Too often we pray for our kids to have patience, but we want them to acquire the virtue right now!Remember, fostering patience in children is not a job for the impatient. It is a slow process but it is is worth the effort for Allah loves the Sabiroon, the patient.
While patience is taught in a passive manner to preschoolers and school-age children, it is important to take a more active approach in teaching tweens how to deal with different situations patiently, whether it is patience in difficulty, in obedience or in sin as discussed in Part 1 of this series.
The best way hence, is to talk to the children about the power of patience.
1. Stories of the Prophets and the Salaf (pious predecessors): Relate the stories of the prophets such as Zakariya (as) and Ayub (as) to your children, and highlight the patience and perseverance they displayed despite their trials and struggles. Read to them the Seerah of Prophet Muhammad (sa), and emphasize how his patience bore fruit. There are many stories from the lives of the companions and salaf that are quite inspiring for children and adults alike.
2. Discuss various scenarios: Call your tween(s), and make a list of situations which make them impatient, angry, or frustrated. These might include situations such as:
- When my sibling touches and messes with my things
- When I have had a fight with my friends
- When I am picked up late from school
- When I don’t like the food at home
- When my parents won’t buy me what I think I need
Ask children to rate each situation on a scale of 1- 10. Encourage them to explain why they feel that way. Help them brainstorm ways to deal with these situations so that when such incidences arise, they don’t react, and have a bank of ideas to fall back on.
In the same discussion, ask them what situations they think would cause others to be impatient with them? Ask them who they think has been patient with them, and how they felt when that person acted patiently towards them?
3. Make them want to be Saabir (patient): Tell your children how Allah has given glad tidings of three things to those who are patient, each of which is better than what the people of this world envy one another. Tell them that Allah, the King of the Kings, your Creator, and your Master loves those who are patient. Emphasize the virtues of being patient, and enunciate the rewards Allah has in store for those who exercise self-restraint. Make your children want to develop the habit of being patient. Remember habits are developed most effectively when you consciously make an effort to adopt them.
4. Lessons from Surah Al-Kahf: Surah Al-Kahf is a great Surah which talks about the story of Khidr (as) and the impatience of Musa (as) who did not understand the reasons for the acts done by the former. This is a great Surah for children to understand that sometimes something may be good for you, even though it does not seem so. In times like these, they must be patient, and know that Allah will reward them for it. Your children can watch some of the many videos by various scholars that explain the lessons in Surah Al-Kahf.
5. Tips to control anger: At this age, anger takes precedence over patience. Conflicts and frustrations are rarely dealt with patiently; instead tempers flare, and fights are instigated. Telling children to “control your anger” does not help; you need to teach your child actual steps towards controlling their anger.
a. One great way is to tell your children about the SWAD anger management tips from the Sunnah:
- S– Sit down. (if you are sitting, lie down)
- W– Take a sip of Water.
- A– Say أعوذ بالله من الشيطان الرجيمA’udhu billahi minash shaitanir rajeem.
- D– Do Wudhu (ablution).
b. Advise them to be silent as words spoken in anger cannot be taken back.
6. Sports and games: Sports and games are a great way to help tweens foster the important skills of taking turns, winning, and losing. Patience is needed not only to lose gracefully but also to win graciously.
A Note of Advice for Parents
1. Be a role model for self-control: If you want your children to be patient, you need to model ways to stay calm in frustrating situations. Talk and verbalize your feelings to exhibit to the child how you are coping with the situation. For example, if you have lost your car keys, and are getting late, say something like, “I’m feeling really angry and impatient. But I’m going to sit down and drink some water, and think about where I last put the keys.” Never overreact or lose control of your emotions because if you do, you will convey to your child that this is an acceptable way to express their feelings.
2. Be prepared: Though teaching patience is your main goal, placing children in frustrating situations is not wise. If you know you are going out somewhere, where it may take longer than you intend and the children may start becoming angry and restless, make sure you are prepared. Pack a snack or a favourite toy. It’s a good idea to bring along reinforcements such as books, travel games, and idea cards to get children busy. Take care of their sleep, hunger, routine, etc. so they do not become irritated in the first place.
3. Deliver on promises: If you have promised to take your child to the park after lunch, don’t start your chores instead. Deliver on your promises so that children don’t have to resort to impatience, anger, and tantrums. Be a part of the solution, not the problem.
Though your own patience will be severely tested as your children learn self-control through trial and error, remember that help is just a salah away:
“And seek help throughpatience and prayer, and indeed, it is difficult except for the humbly submissive [to Allah]” (Surah Al-Baqarah: 45)
Ruhaifa Adil is a mother of four, a practising Muslimah, an avid reader, and a passionate writer. She works primarily as a trainer for mothers and teachers, advocating a multi sensorial, learner-centered approach, which she has learnt through her work as a remedial specialist for children with dyslexia. She is also an author of English textbooks, based on the teachings of the Qur’an (currently under editing), and creative director of a Tafseer app for kids (soon to be launched Insha’Allah).
© IIPH 2014