Children are the biggest blessing and can also be the biggest pain at times…lets be honest these little angels can really test our patience at times. In order to cultivate good manners and habits in them we need to discipline them from a young age. I know I know, the word ‘discipline’ naturally bring images of yelling mums punishing their poor children or having a very regimented and strict environment in the house.
The word ‘discipline’ means ‘training that corrects, moulds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character‘ [Merriam Webster dictionary online] in other words this can does not necesarily have to be done in a harsh or strict manner. Many books written on disciplining children all encourage us parents to display positive behaviour ourselves, draw attention to the childs positive behaviour and then encourage that behaviour with actions and words. As much as I try to exercise these techniques with my children (Alhamdulliah I do find them to work), I do sometimes lose my patience and raise my voice, which I’m not proud of but I am working on minimising as much as I can Insha’Allah.
We are all imperfect and there is no such thing as perfectionism no matter what images on instagram show, don’t feel bad or be too hard on yourself if you have a bad day with your children, it really is quite normal. Looking after children with little or no support 24 hours a day and every single day can wear you out at the best of times and it’s normal to find children’s over active behaviour irritable at times when you haven’t had a good nights sleep.
Rewarding good behaviour, talking about mannerisms, things that are important and of priority on a regular basis can help your child be more aware of what is expected of them, which is exactly what the word ‘inculcate’ means (definition below). Sometimes we may not realise but children do not know exactly what is acceptable or what is expected from them until we clearly tell them.
1.to implant by repeated statement or admonition; teach persistently and earnestly.
to inculcate virtue in the young.
2.to cause or influence (someone) to accept an idea or feeling.
Reward charts are a brilliant way to asses a child’s behaviour on a regular basis and a way to constantly tweak the things that need addressing. Not only does it give you an opportunity to talk to your child without it seeming like a lecture or that you are telling them off, but you also are encouraging and rewarding good behaviour too.
The more you give attention and praise to the good behaviour the more your child will try to repeat that sort of behaviour.
I think as parents we have a tendency to pay more attention to the negative. For example, you are cooking the evening meal and the children are playing nice and quietly in the lounge. It’s more likely that we will not question the status quo but allow our little angels to carry on while we cook in peace. On the other hand, the minute they have a dispute and we hear the littles monsters raised voices we appear in a flash to see what all the commotion is about. For children attention is attention whether it be positive or negative, they love us being present, attentive and being there with them. Now it’s up to us as to how we give them that attention, since they will most definitely get it in one way or another.
Going back to reward charts, I have always seen positive results when using reward charts, my children will be more conscious of their behaviour while using them. Since we are talking about their goals every evening they are constantly being reminded and it only takes about a minute or two but it really does make big difference. Also I think it is so important to involve your child and ask them what things they would like to improve about themselves, what things would they like to do, rather than us parents dictating what we want them to do. Children always will make more of an effort when they feel as though they are involved, listened to and valued.
The chart that we are currently using is brilliant, it has really solved one of my biggest problems. I used to regularly purchase the reward chart pack from The Works which contained four reward charts. Very soon the pack would finish and I would have the task to either go and purchase more or photocopy them, both of which are not always imminently achievable with all that life throws at you. So in this way sometimes we would miss a few weeks of using the reward chart system. The thing I loved about this reward chart by Muslimstickers is that it is a dry wipe reward chart and the stickers are reusable. Really impressed with it, good quality chart, 92 reuseable stickers and the pen included too.
I think reward charts give the child motivation to behave well and something to work towards. It’s the same with adults too, who doesn’t like being appreciated, thanked, loved and praised. I have read lots of articles on the internet that are against this method of teaching children good behaviour because they feel the child is not intrinsically changing but are just working for the reward only. I think this can be the case when the child is alot older and I see where they are coming from. In my opinion the early years are where all the habits are made and the mental associations are made, this is the time relationships are made, priorities are embedded and children gain an insight in to the right and wrong way of doing things. If these reward charts encourage those things while they are little and they then turn in to habits then I believe they are fantastic for that purpose. Children need fun motivators and not only that it also nicely creates time to regularly talk about manners and good behaviour. Most importantly, anything that helps us tired overworked mums persuade our child in a difficult moment and helps us get through the day is a winner for me.
Another way I encourage good behaviour is using stickers. I have the odd pack of smiley face stickers in different spots around the house, so the children follow an instruction well, use their initiative or do something that warms my heart I can spontaneously pull out a sticker and praise them in an exaggerated way. I think if stickers work for the school teachers, the dentist and the doctors then surely they have to work for me too and they do! After you have awarded the sticker or around the same time, you need to make exaggerated statements about how good they and how proud you of them. I really go all out with ‘woow’ ‘your sooo good’ ‘i loove that so much’ plus lots of hugs and maybe even pick them up and throw them in the air a few times [you get the idea]. When we show lots of attention to something good it is more likely that kind of good behaviour will be repeated again.
I also find sweets to be a good way to encourage good behaviour, but I am conscious this becoming a bad habit that isn’t good for their health or teeth so I usually reserve this one for weekends only now and then.
How do you encourage good behaviour in your family? What do you find works for you?
I hope you found this blog post useful insha’Allah and I hope to hear from you with your ideas on how we can encourage good behaviour and ideas on how we discipline our children in a constructive way.