The Responsibility for Psychological Education
Psychological education means training children from an early age to be bold, frank, having the capacity for goodness to others, to be self-disciplined when angry and of sound moral behavior.
The aim of this education should be to keep the personality of the child steady and balanced. It is the duty of parents to train the child to avoid all factors which may affect his honor and dignity or harm his human personality in a way which may lead him to pessimism and envy.
Among the most important factors which parents should try to do is to free their children and pupils from such phenomena:
We will first discuss these phenomena, and then show how they may be remedied in the light of Islam.
Inheritance may play its role in the child’s shyness but it cannot be denied that his environment also has a great influence on either increasing shyness or regulating it. Surely those children who mix with others will be less shy compared with others who do not.
The remedy for this problem will be to encourage children to meet people and be friendly with them by accompanying their parents when they visit friends and relatives, or by asking them kindly to speak with others, young or old. Such visits help to eradicate shyness and increase the child’s self-confidence.
Here are some historical precedents, as well as Prophetic Hadiths which provide parents with good examples related to the means our forefathers adopted to teach their children boldness, and overcome shyness.
It is important for us as parents to strike a balance between boldness and rudeness. We should all aim to raise fearless, spontaneous and witty children as it is a quality of successful leaders. We need more fearless young adults in the Ummah to raise their voices against the oppressors. A child should be taught boundaries but at the same time encouraged to speak up for what’s right.
– Muslim narrated after Sahl Ibti Sa’d As-Sa’idi that the messenger of Allah ﷺ was offered a drink. He drank for it. On his right was a child and on his left was an old men. He ﷺ asked the child, “Would you allow me to give these people to drink?’ But the child said, “By Allah, no. I would never give up my share from you to anyone else.”
– As the Commander of the faithful, ‘Umar Ibn Al-Khattab was passing along a road in Madinah, when he saw children playing. Amongst them was “Abdullah Ibn Az-Zubayr. Then all the children ran away, being afraid of Umar. But Ibn Az-Zubayr was the only one who remained where he was and did not run away. When ‘Umar reached him; ‘Umar said, “Why did you not run away like the others?” Ibn Az-Zubayr promptly said, “I have not committed any offense to make me run away, and the road was not too narrow for me to make way for you.”
– Umar R.A. often sought the advice of Ibn Abbas on important matters of state and described him as a “young man of maturity”:
Umar used to make me (Ibn Abbas) sit with the elderly men who had fought in the battle of Badr. Some of them (Abd-al-Rahman ibn Awf ) felt it (did not like that) and said to Umar: “Why do you bring in this boy to sit with us, while we have sons like him?”
Umar replied “Because of what you know of his position” (i.e. his religious knowledge).
One day Umar called me (Ibn Abbas) and made me sit in the gathering of those people, and I think that he called me just to show them (my religious knowledge). ‘Umar then asked them in my presence: ‘What do you say about the interpretation of the statement of Allah’.
“When comes help of God, and the conquest…”
Some of them said: “We are ordered to praise God and ask for His forgiveness, when God’s help and the conquest comes to us”. Some others kept quiet and did not say anything. On that Umar asked me: “Do you say the same, O Ibn Abbas?” I replied: “No”. He said: “What do you say then?” I replied: “That is the sign of the death of the Prophet, which Allah informed him of. Allah said: (O Muhammad) when comes the help of God (to you against your enemies) and the conquest (which is the sign of your death) – you should celebrate the praises of your Lord and ask for His forgiveness, and He is the One who accepts the repentance and forgives”. On that Umar said: “I do not know anything about it other than what you have said”.
Sa`d ibn Abi Waqqas R.A. said: I have never seen someone who was quicker in understanding, who had more knowledge and greater wisdom than Ibn Abbas. I have seen Umar summon him to discuss difficult problems in the presence of veterans of Badr from among the Muhajirin and Ansar. Ibn Abbas would speak and Umar would not disregard what he had to say.
‘Umar Ibn Abdul Aziz once said: “Seek knowledge, for no one is born a scholar. And a person with knowledge is different from an ignorant one. Surely the senior of a community who has no knowledge is really a minor, in case he is in a congregation.”
These instances prove that the children of our forefathers generation (salaf) were reared to be far from shy, cramped, or depressed, because they were trained to be daring, and they used to attend congregations in the company of their fathers, and to visit friends. In addition, the first generation encouraged their intelligent, eloquent children to address their elders, and were even consulted on public affairs and scientific questions in the presence of scholars and thinkers. All of that helps to train children in eloquence. So it is the duty of parents nowadays to encourage children to be frank but respectful, bold but give full credit to seniors.
It is a psychological trait that may exist in both young or old, and male or female. This phenomenon may be commendable as long as it is within natural limits in children, because it will be a means for protecting the child from accidents and risks. But excessive fear would cause anxiety to children and hence it may become a psychological problem.
Today we see a lot of parents instilling unnecessary and many times false fears in the heart of the child to make them obey. Eg; scaring a child saying the cat will come get him if he doesn’t finish his food. These tactics are not just irresponsible but also eventually the kid learns that his parents were lying to him all this time.
Psychologists say that in the first few years, a child may be frightened by a sudden noise or the sudden fall of something. The child may be afraid of strangers starting with the first six months of age approximately. But at the age of three, he will be afraid of many things such as animals, cars, slopes and water. In general, females are more afraid than males. Again, fright may also come as a result of the child’s imagination. So the more imaginative the child is, the more easily frightened he becomes. There are many factors behind the increase of fear; important among these factors are:
To treat this phenomenon, the following are to be taken into consideration:
1. To raise the child from the very beginning on belief in Allah and worshipping him. The Qur’an tells us about this: “Verily, man (disbeliever) was created very impatient; Irritable (discontented) when evil touches him; And niggardly when good touches him. Except those who are devoted to Salat (prayers). Those who remain constant in their Salat (prayers)“
2. To give the child suitable amounts of freedom concerning his behaviour, bearing responsibility and acting according to his growth and developing capacity.
3. Restrain from frightening the child- especially when he cries- by stories about hyenas and demons, Jinn and devils, if we want him to be free of fear and to train him to be bold and brave.
4. To enable the child to mix with others and to give him the opportunity to make friends and acquaintances. Psychologists also recommend that the child knows more about things that may frighten him, such as darkness. So there is no harm to switch off the light suddenly at times. If he fears water, there is no harm if plays with a little water in a small container; and if he is afraid of electrical appliances, there is no harm if we show him some of their parts and then allow him to see the whole machine and similar ones.
5. Introducing them to the battles of the Prophet ﷺ and of the heroic early generations and prompting them to follow the example of the great companions, followers, leaders and conquerors, in order to inspire in them a sense of bravery, heroism, and striving in the way or Allah, Sa’d Ibn Abu Waqqas said in this regard, “We (the Companions) used to teach our children stories about the battles of the Prophet ﷺ, as we used to teach them verses of the Noble Qur’an.” In this respect, we should refer to the conduct of the sons of some great companions and their heroic historical achievements, which serve well as noble examples for all generations.
Al-Bukhari and Muslim have reported that Abdur-Rahman Ibn R.A. said, “While I was standing on que on the day of Badr battle, I looked to my right and my left, and saw two young boys of the helpers (Al-Ansar). Then one of them signalled to me saying, “O my uncle, Do you know Abu Jahl? ‘ I said, “Yes, What do you want him for?” The young boy said, I have been told that he abuses the Prophet, by Allah, in whose hand is my soul, if I see him, I will not part from him until one of us meets death.” I was surprised, at the boy’s resoluteness. Then the other boy also signalled to me saying the same thing. Soon, my eyes fell upon Abu Jahl walking among his people. Then I said to the two boys; “Can you see him? That is the man about whom you were asking.” At once, they lifted their swords and attacked him unawares and killed him. Then they went to the Prophet ﷺ and told him what they had done….”
It may be deduced from these historic examples and others that the sons of the Companions were very brave, rare and heroic ideals. That was due to their good education, which was taught to them at the Prophetic school, Muslim homes and Islamic society of believers. Furthermore, even mothers encouraged their sons to strive and sacrifice.
This distinguished generation was raised honoring these characteristics, because they were taught from the very beginning archery, swimming and horse-riding. They were not reared on excessive loneliness; they were accustomed to mingling with others of kin of the same age. They were taught lessons on the history of heroes, in addition to this, they benefited from the ideals they cherished in their childhood.
Thus on the day parents raise their children to adopt these values, the new generation will be uplifted from anxiety to confidence, from fear to courage and from humility to honour and glory.
Inferiority is a psychological state that affects some children as an inborn illness, as a disease or as a result of ill-treatment or economic factors. The factors which cause such a complex are:
1. Being despised and insulted.
2. Being over-indulged.
3. Unjust treatment by family members.
Being despised and insulted are unfair reasons for the child’s sense of inferiority and psychological disorder. So, we sometimes hear that the mother or father condemn a boy publicly when he slips the first time and label him immoral.
If he lies once, they call him a liar. If he happens to slap his younger brother, we call him wicked. If he convinces his young sister to give him her apple, we call him deceitful. If he takes something from his father’s pocket, we call him a thief; and if we ask him for a glass of water and he is not ready to respond quickly, we call him lazy. So we chide him publicly before his siblings and the family at the very first fault.
Sometimes such chiding may take place before his parent’s friends or before strangers whose children had been seen and met before. This may make a child look down upon himself and lack self-respect. This may also cause him psychological problems and may develop envy and hatred towards others. How can we hope from our children obedience and kindliness as well as respect, when we have inculcated in them the seeds of deviation such as disobedience and revolt?
Of course, such bad words said by a father may have come only for disciplining the young. But we should know that the treatment for such minor mistakes should not be of such severity as to have serious effects on the psychological well-being of the young, or make him accustomed to abuse and cursing. But what is the treatment according to Islam for a child when he commits mistakes and minor sins?
The right treatment is to tell him his mistakes in a lenient and kind manner, and to remind him that what he did is not right. Then, if he understood that and promised that he would act properly, then we have achieved the goal of rectifying his deviation. To sum up, we should know that despising or being cruel to children, particularly in the presence of others, is a major factor in breeding humility in him, and immoral behavior. The best treatment is to draw the attention of the child to his mistake in a gentle and persuasive way by means of explanation. It is the duty of parents not to rebuke children in the presence of others. If this should be done it must be in a gentle way. This is the way of the Prophet ﷺ in reforming, rearing and reconstructing their deeds.
Among the evidences of incorrect education by mothers is that some of them do not permit their children to do jobs they are able to do out of supposed mercy and kindness. A mother may take her child in her custody permanently. A mother may not allow her child for a moment out of her sight. A mother may not deter her child when he damages the furniture of the house, or when he sits on the table or when he writes on the wall with his pen.
The phenomenon of excessive fondling may have very negative results when Allah bestows upon parents a child after long years of deprivation or when the mother gives birth to her child after many miscarriages or when a mother gives birth to a male after many females or when Allah cures a child after a serious illness. But what about the treatment which Islam prescribes for doing away with this phenomenon?
– Islam prescribes here deep faith in Divine Decree and determination on the part of parents. So they should believe that nothing will happen to them or to their children as regards to health or sickness, favours or disfavours, offspring or sterility richness or poverty, except what Allah has decreed and according to His Will.
– To educate children in a gradual manner. If advice and admonition prove to be effective, then it is wrong for a guardian to ignore him. If ignoring is helpful, then, it is unbecoming of a guardian to resort to beating. And in case of the inability of a guardian to achieve compliance on the part of his child, then he has the right to light chastisement.
– To rear the child from the very beginning to he self-confident and have moral courage.
– To follow the good example of the Prophet ﷺ from boyhood until maturity when Allah sent him the Message.
To sum up, over indulgence is one of the decisive factors in causing children to deviate. Thus, it is the duty of parents especially mothers to adopt the principles laid down for rearing children; among these principles, is moderate affection for children, and teaching them compliance with the Commands of Allah. Among these is chastisement of children in case of misconduct. Also, teaching children to be independent.
Finally, among these principles is to teach the child to follow the Prophet’s example at all stages of his life. The day when parents adopt the above concepts, they will help avoid damaging their children’s personalities and help in promoting moral standards.
Unequal treatment of children is considered the gravest Factor in the psychological deviation of children
Al-Bukhari and Muslim narrated after An-Numan Ibn Bashir that his father came to the Prophet ﷺ and said, “I have given this child of mine this servant who was in my service.” The Prophet ﷺ said, “O Bashir, do you have any children other than this one?’* My father said, “Yes,”
Then the Prophet ﷺ said, “Did you give each one of them the same?” He said, “No” the Prophet ﷺ said, “Do not ask me to testify because, I do not testify to injustice.” After that the Prophet ﷺ said, “Would you like your children to be equally benign to you?’
My father said, “Yes.” The Prophet ﷺ finally said, “Then no, “You should give equal gifts to all.” We may deduce from that Hadith the principles of justice, equality, and love for all children without any distinction between them.
Definitely the only solution to such problems is the order of the Prophet ﷺ, “Fear Allah and implement justice between your children.” This is what Allah has decreed. It would also be faithful to act justly between children, males and females alike. All children then, should enjoy the spirit of love, equality, mercy, kindness, and just treatment.
FOSTER A STRONG SENSE OF IDENTITY
Before occupying ourselves with whether our kids have eaten a proper breakfast, or whether they’re too warm or cold in what they’re wearing, or how well or poorly they’re doing academically, we need to ask ourselves – does my child feel comfortable in his own skin? Are our children comfortable being Muslims? Do they know what they believe in and why? Fostering a strong sense of identity starts when our children are young. Make their faith a source of comfort, love, and inspiration. Only then will they embrace their Muslim identities without discomfort or resentment. Make Eids meaningful celebrations for them. Let them feel joy and ease in their faith instead of feeling judged or forced. Help them find a second home in the mosque by creating fun and welcoming programs for them.
One of the most important contributions we can make to nurturing our children’s identities is to ensure they have good like-minded companions. It’s important to make an effort to connect with other strong Muslim families whose kids can become companions for yours.
Teach them to love your own identity but also teach them to navigate and how to deal with non-muslims, we cannot expect them to be segregated or isolated, the Prophet ﷺ lived amongst the non-muslims and lived by example. He dealt with them justly and kept his promises to them. His character exemplified his call to Islam.
ESTABLISH AN ISLAMIC IDENTITY AT HOME
The most important place to begin in shaping a child’s Muslim identity, is in the home. Does your family routine and home reflect your beliefs and convictions? What is it about your home that differentiates itself from your non-Muslim neighbor’s home? How much of Islam is part of your daily rhythm? Children need tangible items that connect them to their faith. Try living close to the Masjid (if possible) so Ad’han can be heard or atleast it should be heard from your PC or smart phone. Let them see you make wu’du and pray. Teach them about Sunnahs of the Prophet ﷺ pertaining to food and drink.
CONDONE A VICTIM MENTALITY.
Not being selected in a competition, failing in a test or getting cut from the team doesn’t make a child a victim. Disappointment, failure and rejection are a part of life.
No matter how unjust or tough the circumstance, refuse to attend your kids’ pity parties. Teach them the importance of taking positive action rather than indulging in self-pity. Teach them to try harder the next time as hard work is always rewarded by Allah, He is the Most Just!
Envy is a desire on the part of one person to see the disappearance of another person’s wealth or privilege. It is a dangerous psychological phenomenon which leads to the most evil results. Such a phenomenon has to be seriously dealt with by parents.
Before dealing with precautions and remedies for this phenomenon, it would be better to mention the reasons that kindle jealousy and envy in the hearts of children. Among these reasons are:
– The child may fear losing some of his privileges such as love and kindness, especially when another child has been born to the same family. He may imagine that this child would compete with him for love and kindness,
– Inciting jealousy between children, by mentioning that one is intelligent and the other is not.
– Favoring a certain child more than others, by fondling and, playing with him while neglecting, depriving, or beating the other,
– Forgiving one child’s misdeeds and punishing another child for the least misdeeds.
These are some of the reasons which lead to envy and hatred. Here we find that Islam has dealt with the phenomenon of envy with wise educational principles as follows:
– Making the child feel he is loved, for that was what the Prophet ﷺ did and always recommended to his Companions.
Al-Bukhari reported that ‘Aishah R.A said, “A bedouin Arab came to the Prophet ﷺ and said, ‘Do you kiss your children! We certainly do not kiss them,’ Then the Prophet ﷺ said, ‘what can I do for you, if Allah has taken away mercy from your heart?”
Justice between children: parents should deal with justice between children, for this will help allay envious feelings among them; so children will live with their siblings and parents in love and kindness.
It is the responsibility of parents to keep away from blaming and chastising. It is also the duty of parents to observe justice and equality between children and to be aware of arousing envy and jealousy, for the Prophet ﷺ warned against envy and prohibited it. Abu Dawud reported from Abu Hurairah that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “Beware of envy, because envy eats up the good deeds as the fire eats up wood.”
Anger is a psychological and emotional state that a child may feel during his first days and continue to accompany him throughout all the stages of his life. Since anger is inherent in human nature from the day of his birth, it is a mistake to consider it totally evil, for Allah has created man and gave him these natural instincts, inclinations and feelings. In fact, it has been a favor of Divine Wisdom for man’s social interest. Among the benefits of anger is defense of self, religion, honour, as well as keeping Muslim lands from the plots of aggressors and conspiracies by imperial powers. Had not that phenomenon been provided by Allah in human beings, Muslims would not have been able to fight the violations of the Commands of Allah and His religion; nor would they have been able to repel the enemies of Islam when they attack Muslim lands. This is, without doubt, commendable anger, which was manifested through deeds of the Prophet ﷺ.
The Qur’an has commanded male and female believers to repress anger, repel evil with good acts, and turn away from ignorant people so that societies can achieve happiness, affection and Muslims can preserve their unity. Here Allah says,
The Prophet ﷺ & praised those who repress anger and who restrain themselves in case of anger. Al-Bukhari narrated that once a man said to the Prophet ﷺ, “Favor me with your counsel” Then the Prophet ﷺ said, “Do not be angry.” He repeated it again, saying, “Do not be angry.”
Al Bukhari and Muslim narrated from Ibn Mas’ud who said that the Prophet ﷺ said, “Whom would you consider brave?” They said, “A person who could not be defeated.” Then he said, “No! A brave person is he who restrains himself when angry.”
In fact, since the phenomenon of anger has its bad effects on the human personality, the mind, self-restraint, the cohesiveness and unity of society, then the duty of the people who rear up children is to deal with that phenomenon among children from the very beginning till they attain maturity.
The best treatment for the phenomenon of anger in a child is to keep him away from the reasons for anger. For example, if the reason and motive of anger are hunger then, it is the duty of parents to feed the child adequately because negligence here may lead to physical or psychological imbalance.
If the causes of anger are sickness then, it is the duty of parents to seek medical treatment for the child. If the causes of anger are blaming the child or insulting him then, it is the duty of parents to tell him never to use insulting words. If the causes of anger are that a child may try to imitate his parents then, the duty of parents is to give the child good example in forbearance, patience and self- control.
Among the effective means of combatting anger is to provide him with the Prophetic example in fighting anger. Here are the stages of this method:
Finally, it is the duty of parents to show children that anger is hateful, since the person who is angry, would have red eyes, his veins would be inflated, and all his features would be changed. His face would be red and his voice would be loud. That is why the Prophet ﷺ warned against anger. Imam Ahmad narrated that the Prophet ﷺ said, “Verily, anger is afire brand burning in the heart of the sons of Adam. No doubt you will see the inflation of his veins and the redness of his eyes. So whoever feels any of these symptoms, then he has to change his stand (by sitting or lying down).”
We can sum up that parents have to be careful to keep children away from the causes of anger, by observing the Prophetic concepts in dealing with anger and trying to alleviate it. Then children will learn patience and self-control. So parents should teach children to be steadfast and courageous.
By freeing children from the negative effects of anger through following the advantages of Muslim principles, parents will prepare their children for life. This is the way to educate the youth of tomorrow and the men of the future. Indeed, the personality of the children will be positive, their ethics will be high, and hence they will be free from psychological shortcomings.