QUESTION: I feel some kids misbehave because they are frustrated/hurt about something or maybe have low self-esteem. How do we go about exploring any deeper issues there might be?
In order to explore deeper underlying issues that may exist within our children we first need to build on our relationship with our children.
1. As was mentioned in yesterday’s webinar that we should look to have interactions and conversations with our children other than the reason for departing instructions or reprimanding them for some inaction or wrongdoing. If we talk and have a dialogue with our children on a regular basis our child grows to learn that we as parents pay attention and care about their lives and struggles.
2. They learn that our love is unconditional, by that we mean that we don’t just love our children when they behave, we love them no matter what. Unfortunately today children grow up feeling they are receiving conditional love, that a parent only loves them when they behave, or do what they are instructed. This feeling has long term detrimental harms on children (mental health), which tend to manifest themselves in the teenage years.
If these two elements are there, then children will open up to us when we delve into any deeper issues they may be facing. This in turn enables us to support them through their difficulties and problems.
QUESTION: If you could kindly elaborate about unconditional love and give an example relating to a 2yr old. How can parents display “unconditional love” and avoid giving the impression that their love is conditional on their children’s behaviour? Is it by avoiding harshness when correcting? What will make children know that the parents’ love is unconditional?
Unconditional love isn’t just what we feel but what our child feels, the love without strings attached. That your child feels loved in times of hardship and ease, in times of need and freedom, when your child behaves and misbehaves.
As was mentioned before, one of the ways to have unconditional love is by ensuring we are talking and interacting with our child not only for departing instructions or reprimanding them, but when we are relaxed and normal settings. This will show our child that we are not parents who only interact for our own need but pay attention to their lives.
The tips for building unconditional love were covered in the webinar (without it being explicitly mentioned). But for ease have been listed below.
1. Discipline your child knowing that this is education and not punishment. That you are trying to build internal self-control and regulation based on your values. If discipline is done lovingly for the purpose of education then your child will feel this
2. Using power to punish will eventually end as your child grows older. But the damage done through the years will have long lasting relational impact. When we use power to punish, children feel not loved.
3. See the world though his eyes – appreciate his struggles and difficulties and try to see the situation through his eyes and perspective.
4. Your child is growing and not fully developed. It takes time to develop abilities and some children take longer than others to develop certain abilities. Be patient with them and keep on saying “they are only a child”
5. Similar to the point above is to accept that your child has faults. Know their faults and limitations and be at peace with it, manage your expectations..
If we can practise the above approaches then your child will realise that your love is unconditional. Remember unconditional love is something your child needs to feel, and not how you think you feel towards your child.
Both point 4 and 5 are interlinked. That every child is developing and growing. So children will have faults and limitations naturally. Here parents needs to understand what these are and not feel like they must fix it right now. By being at peace with it means, knowing what the limitations and faults are, and accepting that it will take time to overcome them. Your child is on a journey, so you aid and assist them in their development, putting a plan in place for this development. This is the actual meaning of Tarbiyyah – “taking your child stage by stage to ultimate fruition (becoming a mu’min).”