Boundary and discipline
All of us have boundaries and we try to stay within that boundary. We live within our boundary and we know that there are consequences if that boundary is broken. So why do we need to have boundaries? And how should we deal with those who go outside the boundary? What methods should we use to discipline? These were some of the questions that were raised in this session and to which answers were given alhamdulillah.
The following are some of the definitions we brainstormed of what we understood ‘boundary’ to mean:
· Discipline when boundaries are broken
· Physical barrier
· Line one cannot pass
· Distinguish between right and wrong
· Boundaries are not set in stone
· Boundaries of Allah cannot change. An example of this is the command of Allah that parents should order children to pray by the age of seven and smacked if they do not pray when they turn ten.
How to set boundaries?
· Giving children instructions and advising them. We should not be dictators and say ‘you can’t do this’ and ‘you can’t do that’. But we need to explain to them in a pleasant way and explain why they are not allowed to do certain things insha’Allah.
· Reward and discipline chart. This is used to reward good behaviour and punish bad behaviour. Every time a child performs an act that pleases the parents, then that behaviour is recognised as good behaviour and in return the child is awarded a sticker for the chart. Every displeasing act means the removal of stickers. This method usually works well when there are more than one sibling in the house, thus encourages competition for good behaviour.
· Role-modelling. As parents we need to have boundaries too so that a child does not feel boundaries only apply to them. We can relate to them the boundaries set by Allah and what happens when these boundaries are transgressed. This will make them appreciate that boundaries are placed in our lives for our well-being and protection.
· It is crucial to remember that a child should only be admonished after the boundary has been set and that boundary is then broken.
· We should try to raise ‘thinking children’. How can we do that you may wonder? This can be done by getting them to think about things and getting them to search for answers to their own questions instead of providing the answers for them. We should relate stories from the Qur’aan, give them parables. SubhanAllah this is the method Allah uses to make us think. For example, if we ponder over the story in surah Qalam we see that this story explains to us that we should not be selfish. This method is more effective and interesting rather than saying ‘don’t be selfish’.
So how do we teach our children good manners? The best method of instilling good manners is by modelling. For example, if we want them to say ‘Bismillah’ before eating. We should practice this so that they will listen and learn. This method is excellent mashaAllah because my daughter has learnt a few duaas through this. We should make it a regular habit o f reciting duaas and surahs aloud to them from a young age so that they become familiar with them and insha’Allah start imitating us and memorising them.
We discussed the methods used to discipline children and came up with following :
· Standing on the wall
· ‘Naughty Chair’ but we could use positive words such as ‘thinking area’.
· Taking away privileges
· Also it is vital to discipline ourselves first because children imitate our behaviour. For example if we don’t want our children not to use bad language we should avoid using it ourselves.
Six C’s for discipline
1. Calmness- Be calm when you discipline and do not lose your temper.
2. Confident-Appear confident and know what the child has done
3. Consistency- Be consistent when you discipline and do not contradict yourself.
4. Clarity- Explain clearly to the child and make sure that they understand what you are trying to explain.
5. Control- have control over the situation and do not lose your temper.
6. Communication- The child needs to be aware of what he has done wrong. Sometimes the child is unaware of why he is being punished. The hadith of the young boy who ate with his left hand was told that eating with the left hand is wrong. But he was corrected and he was told to eat with his right hand. He was also provided with additional information of eating the food nearest to him. This illustrates that a child needs to be told of the incorrect behaviour but also shown the correct behaviour.