Parenting is probably one of the most challenging roles that you will have, there’s no training, you are on call 24 hours a day, year after year, there are no holidays and sometimes little support. We find ourselves navigating parenthood alone, without a manual and constantly questioning ourselves, feeling like we are getting it all wrong or just generally fearing what will become of our children in the challenging times that we find ourselves in. Today’s demanding lifestyle can also put a lot of pressure on parents so it is important that we take the time to stop and reflect, so that it ensures that we are doing all we can to raise our children in the best possible way. As with most things in life, this starts with looking at ourselves and in particular, considering our own childhood experiences and how that might affect our relationship with our children as well as our style of parenting.
I want to start by discussing praise. This is a powerful ingredient that shows support, enthusiasm, gratitude and encouragement. Praise works wonders with our children, they will respond much better to compliments than to criticism or shouting. You physically see the glow of pride in a child when his/her efforts are noticed.
The question is, how effectively are you giving praise to your children? When they come home from school with a lovely picture that they have created do you really pay attention? Do you half glance, tell them in an over exaggerated tone how wonderful it is and then resume whatever it is that you were doing before they interrupted you? Do you toss it to one side and later find that you accidentally put it in the bin? Or do you acknowledge your child, stop what you are doing and give them and their art work your full attention?
1. Give the child your full attention
2. Move close to the child
3. Look pleased and share the child’s pleasure
4. Be specific: describe what you like
5. Ask the child what he/she thinks
6. Seek eye contact
7. Mean it, be sincere
8. Touch the child gently/affectionately
9. Give pride to the child (“You deserve to feel proud of yourself.”)
Our religion teaches us the beauty and importance of praise with out us even realising it. We are not only encouraged to constantly praise Allah (SWT) but we should praise each other and the world around us. We don’t just say “Thank You” to someone if they do something for us, we say, “May Allah reward you.” We don’t just look at a beautiful waterfall and say, “Isn’t it stunning.” We praise our Creator by saying, “SubhanAllah.” Praise in inherent in everything that we do as Muslims.
There are two different types of praise. Praise for doing, which tells someone that we have noticed and appreciate their efforts and praise for being, which shows that we value them for their innate qualities (eg being kind.)
There are so many ways that we can praise our children; through our speech, rewards/gifts, hugs and gentle touch, displaying work, thumbs up or high five, smiles and warm eye contact. Praise and encouragement help all of us feel good about ourselves but it is especially important to our children. It’s good to be able to say something nice even at the end of a bad day. So let’s all make an extra special effort, not just to praise our children but all those that we connect with this week.
By Afroze Fatima Zaidi