By Rabiya Fahma Dawood
Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem
From salah (prayers), to zakah (almsgiving), to sawm (fasting), to every other Islamic rite that you can think of, Islam instills discipline through every ritual that it necessitates. Realizing the significance of discipline in life, the question that every parent and teacher often asks himself or herself is this: Am I disciplining my children correctly?
The term ‘discipline with dignity’ was primarily coined for a classroom setting. However, it is applicable within the household also.
The main goal of disciplining with dignity is to imbibe respect for one’s life and self within the child. Basically, the child is taught to follow rules, not simply because he or she is obliged to by authority, but because he or she recognizes the benefit in doing so.
Here are a few tips to discipline your children or students aged 5-12 years with dignity:
1. Work as a team
Allow your child to participate in the rule-setting process of the home or classroom.
At home, for example, setting the curfew time can be discussed with and set in collaboration with your child.
Involving the child in this crucial process will sharpen his or her decision-making skills and even make him or her feel good about following the set rules.
However, parents and teachers must use discretion when giving freedom to children, so that the authenticity of the process is maintained.
Explain why you allow one thing but disallow another.
Giving the reason for your dos and don’ts would not only earn you credibility in your child’s eyes, but would also make them understand the wisdom behind each rule and further help them apply the underlying principles in life themselves.
He (Ya‘qub) said, “O my son, do not relate your vision to your brothers lest they will contrive against you a plan. Indeed Satan, to man, is a manifest enemy.” (Quran, 12:5)
Prophet Ya‘qub (may peace be upon him) forbade his son Yusuf from narrating his dream to his brothers. But he didn’t stop there; he wisely added the reason for his prohibition, mentioning that if he does so, then Satan could very well instigate his brothers to harm him. That way Yusuf would not hold any personal grudge against his brothers and instead would direct his animosity towards the source of evil: Satan.
And that is precisely what he did for the rest of his life.
3. Follow through
Do not administer hollow threats.
If you tell your child that the next time he curses, you will put him or her in time-out, do it.
When you follow through with your promises, your child will take you seriously. He or she will understand that when you say something, you really mean business and they won’t consider trampling over your words. Respect yourself, and your kids will respect you.
This tip would also push yourself to assess the consequences you mete out before you utter your words – ensuring that they are neither extreme nor petty.
4. Give options
If your child lapses in following a particular rule on one day, allow him or her a bit of leeway.
Giving alternatives every once in a while will not only make it easy on him or her, but also help him or her in making informed decisions.
5. Do not raise your hand
One of the essential aspects of disciplining with dignity is to never raise your hand at your kids when correcting their wrongdoings.
Spanking doesn’t go a long way in teaching your children value. If anything, it teaches them to resort to violence when they don’t get their way.
When needed, be firm and stern with your voice alone.
6. Address with love
Address your child with words like ‘sweetie’, ‘honey’, or any other word that articulates your love for the child.
When Luqman (may Allah be pleased with him) advised his son, he began by saying “Ya bunayya (O my son!)…” (Quran, 31:13), an address filled with gentleness and compassion which roped his son into listening to his admonitions.
Lastly, shower your children with encouraging words. Praise them for even the smallest of achievements and express your belief in their abilities when they slip.
Anas ibn Malik is reported to have said: “I served the Prophet (peace be upon him) for ten years, and he never said to me: ‘Uff’ (a minor harsh word denoting impatience) and never blamed me by saying: ‘Why did you do so or why didn’t you do so?’” (Bukhari)
Constant support from parents and teachers results in nurturing self-confident and self-motivated individuals. Remember: Responsible adults are made, not born.
Rabiya Dawood is a freelance writer, editor, counsellor, and teacher. She has taught at Islamic weekend schools based in the UAE, is counsellor at ArRajaa The Hope Counselling Service as well as Solace Islamic Assistance, and staff editor and writer at Islamic magazines such as Muslimaat Magazine and previously at IOU Insights. She also serves as a freelance editor for independent writers.
© IIPH 2016