How Our Relationship With Children Is Crucial To Their Development
Don’t aspire for kids to fear you because if they do, they will never open up and discuss their problems with you, the result being taking their problems to immature friends who give them immature advice.
Rather aspire for kids to respect you because when they do, they will be too embarrassed to act badly around you and consequently even in your absence. They will deem it unfit to be impolite towards you and at the same time, they will be able to discuss their problems with you and take your advice into consideration.
In our communities, kids are often treated like excuse me to say non-humans. I have come across many such instances. Also I quite remember that as a kid, I faced these prejudices kids go through today. I will highlight a few and I know there are many other incidents out there you might be familiar with. For all you know you were once a victim who has also unconsciously become a culprit of child maltreatment or what I would call child disregard.
When buying food or anything, priority seems to be given to adults irrespective of whether the kids came first or not and this is not fair. I remember countless times when as a kid, I will stand in queues for very long because adults had to be served first. Now, between the child and the adult, who can survive hunger better? Why then are kids made to wait as though they are going to be served for free (even that doesn’t call for such treatment), are they not humans too? It does not speak well of us at all when we are unmerciful to children. Let’s not forget the hadith that says Allah is not merciful to those who are not merciful to people. Many times when in a queue, I find myself telling the vendor that I came to meet the kids and that they should be served and I don’t even mind if the kids who came to meet me are served also.
Let us make kids feel safe around us, make them feel they can trust you. That way, bad people will be unable to win them over to their sides. What do we see in our homes? We hardly have a friendly conversation with them and usually the only time we pay attention to them is when we want to rebuke them for their mistakes. Don’t you realize that an attention-craving child will then resort to making mistakes just to get your attention? Even in our adult relationships, how do you feel when your partner pays no attention to you? Are you not sometimes inclined to flirt with others knowing it’s wrong but just hoping to catch your partner’s attention? Children are humans too and like your partners, they also require your attention.
Sometimes too, we forcefully take their innocence from them by ironically seeing them as innocent and thereby discussing adult content in their presence. Children are new to vocabulary and add every new word to their next sentence whether they understand it or not. This could lead to very embarrassing situations where a child says something adults would deem inappropriate.
Often times too, we issue commands and expect them to obey without any explanations given them all because we see them as kids and therefore they lack reasoning abilities which is not the case. Meanwhile as an adult, you demand reasons behind commands. If we want children to place value in what they are asked to do, then we need to explain to them the reasons behind the command we give. Tell them why they should go to school and learn, eat, bath etc. Yes tell them even if you have to repeat, they tend to have short memory. You will see them put in extra effort in doing their chores even if it’s just to please you at first.
I remember how I asked some children to help me complete a task by first doing it myself and I was shocked at the number of volunteers I got. They even suggested better ways of doing the task to which I heeded and I watched in awe as they gathered the necessary resources for the task. This was all because I told them why we should perform that task and they were swarming over me like bees to take part. In the end I even had to beg some to stop. Those I never expected to help, did so to my surprise. Everything worked in my favor and I didn’t have to shout at someone or even force them because I approached them like they were my mates and also made the value of the task known. I even took their advice, making them feel so important. Children love it when they appear to be in control. You can and have to be in control but just make things appear as though they are rather in control. Leave room for additions even though you can independently make those additions yourself.
Also, show appreciation to them whenever they help you. Everyone likes to be appreciated, don’t forget the children too. It even makes it easier to criticize them when need be. When someone who constantly appreciates you criticizes you, you tend to appreciate it better than criticism from people who have never shown any appreciation to you.
Let’s remember the world is new to kids and they need to be helped to understand it instead of giving them the cold shoulder.
Some claim children would disrespect them if they open up to them. Yes, they will if you don’t put limits to how much you open up to them. However, putting limits does not mean meeting them with a frown always. You can always smile and still exude seriousness at the same time. You just need to find a balance so that when you need seriousness, they know it and also when it’s time to be jovial, they know. In short, treat them like humans, just how you would like to be treated. The prophet (S.A.W) said, “none of you has faith till he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.” Also, remember that Allah does not show mercy to those who do not show mercy to people. Show mercy and love to the children, they deserve it and would emulate you. At the end, the world becomes a better place.