The trouble with learning to parent on the job is that your child is the teacher. ~Robert Brault


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Yes I Can!


                                                                        By: Marwa Sabry
                                                                        

The first lesson my three year old daughter learned from her swimming coach was:  “There is no such thing as ‘I can’t,’ say ‘yes, I can.’” Later, my daughter went to pre-school.  A boy in her class was struggling with holding his pencil. The boy muttered out of irritation, “I can’t!” The teacher then reminded him that giving up is not the solution. She said, “Say yes, I can.” The same message has recurred twice in front of my daughter. Now she repeats it whenever she struggles with a new skill or concept. The confidence gained from knowing she can do whatever she sets her mind to is a lesson that is to be implemented for the rest of her life. 
Learning determination is easy at a young age. Keeping it, however, is a duty placed upon the parents’ shoulders. We all believe that Allah’s will is above ours. However, Allah subhanahu wa taala taught us the value of our actions.  For one thing, they have consequences.  Our words, facial expressions and actions towards our kids have great impact on the adults they will become. They perceive the world through us. They also see themselves through our eyes. If you tell your child that she is a failure, she will disappoint you even further. Try communicating that you love her and that you know she will grow to be successful; she will impress you even further. I remember a quote from an educator that says, “Who said that you can make kids do better by making them feel worse?”
Our kids sense our satisfaction level towards their achievement. Although it is recommended to expect highly from our children, we should not let our frustration dictate their pace. Allah subhanahu wa taala created us all with special talents and skills. While one child may be slow and patient, another may be hyper and energetic. Together, they balance the world for all of us. We only try to make them meet in the middle so that they each lead a well-balanced life.
Sometimes we have a way of thinking in which we do not want them to repeat any of our mistakes. We are also not ready for them to make new ones. But this parental attitude is not the way to go. Our kids will make mistakes; some of them will be similar to our own and many will surprise us. It is the only way for them to grow and mature. We only pray that none of their slip-ups will be major.
A golden rule for raising happy successful children is to substitute criticism with objective discussions. Focus on what is coming rather than the past that none of us has the power to undo. Choose your words carefully and remind yourself that you love the challenging character you are facing. No matter what we would like for our kids, hardships and troubles are part of life. We cannot shelter them forever, and we cannot solve their problems on their behalf. What we can do is give them the confidence and the faith that will enable them to fight virtuously. Next time you feel you are about to say something destructive to your child, and you think you cannot stop yourself, just smile and say, “yes, I can.”  They say it takes a village to raise one child. We are this village and the foundation should be solid and positive for the outcome to be successful and happy. 

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Telling or Reporting? By: Marwa Sabry

It is very important that kids feel heard. It is crucial to make our homes a safe haven for them to share their concerns and receive at least an acknowledgment. However, some kids misread this response and treat every single detail as news that needs to be heard. When do we draw the line? More important, how do we teach them to draw it themselves? Listening to siblings complaining and arguing all day long may throw any patience we possess out the door. Simultaneously, we cannot ignore their complaints, in case they are worth being heard.

Therefore, we should differentiate between telling and reporting. Telling is not needed but reporting is important. When our child tells us that another child is playing instead of cleaning the room, this would fall under the category of telling. When a child says that another child is chatting with a stranger on-line, then would be reporting. Reporting should be encouraged because it brings to our attention certain behaviors that our wisdom tells us trigger problems. Stories that fall under the category of telling don’t come with major consequences and can be easily figured out. In the example I gave earlier, the mother can easily tell that the child did not clean the room just by looking at it.

In most cases, mothers suffer from “he/she started it” dialogue. This is a very tough battle because you can only guess the victim. I’ve seen mothers punish both children and I’ve seen mothers giving up on seeking the truth. You should be able to uncover the truth by listening to your children’s private conversations when they think you are not listening. I know that Muslims have an ethical issue with that, but I believe a reasonable amount of investigation is needed once in a while. Also, keep in mind that when they come to you seeking a solution, they want a fair and understanding judge, And as that judge, you should collect good data. Siblings’ fighting has a pattern. It usually comes after a perfectly quiet moment between siblings where the mother’s instinct hears the storm before it starts. This is when she should tiptoe and stand quietly next to where the kids are to get the information first-hand. Do that two to three times, and you will be able to tell the victim better. It’s often not who you think it is.

Being the mother does not mean that you have to solve every problem between your kids. It simply means you should give them the tools to handle it themselves. You can tell your child to go and look her sibling in the eye and tell him/her to stop bothering her. You will be helping your child deal with situations instead of running to you. It will help develop her personality and make her a better person. If you feel that they both are equally wrong, I suggest you try to tell them they are not allowed to play together because they do not appreciate the blessing of having a brother or a sister. Within half an hour or so, you may become the enemy and they will try to play quietly. It worked for me and may work for you as well.

May Allah guide us all,

©Marwa Sabry 2010

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Hidden Parent

The Hidden Parent

By Marwa Sabry

In a kindergarten class in an Islamic school, the teacher asked the students what they want to be when they grow up. A little girl’s hand shot up in the air, “When I grow up I want to be a Power-Puff Girl”. A boy shouted: “I want to be a Spiderman”. Years ago, people were used to hear, “I want to be like my mother,” or, “I want to be like my father.” Nowadays, there is another parent behind the screen influencing our children.
The average American child watches 28 hours of TV weekly. This concludes that she spends more than one day a week facing the screen. Television is an affordable baby sitter and it works well with today’s busy life style. Kids can hardly get bored of flipping channels; there are just too many of them. The sad part is that most media makers (cartoonists included) work without the children’s interests in mind.
Children assess what is real on TV and what is not based on what they know about both, television and the world. By age three, children realize that they can not control what is behind the screen. Between three and four, they realize that the TV world and theirs are two different worlds. All the same, children imitate what they see in the magic window and learn from its heroes.
” Spiderman, Batman, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, you name it, kids want to dress up like those cartoon characters”, notes Marwa Afifi, a kindergarten teacher and a mother of two,” these figures are sources of joy for children. Problem rises when kids apply the wrong scenes. Boys like to copy the prince in the “Sleeping Beauty” and girls love to be her.”
Islam teaches us great values such as obeying Allah and parents, respecting the elders, compassion and caring for the younger. Cartoons overlook all the above and more. Lion King and Little Mermaid are examples of becoming heroes by disregarding rules.
Cartoon and Violence
(47% of violent television programs show the victim going unharmed, especially in cartoons.
• 73% of individuals who commit crimes in cartoons and children's shows go unpunished in violent
• Violence is a good way to solve problems in cartoon
• Television creates heroes out of the people who commit the crimes
• Television reduces the value of life
• Children cannot tell the difference between real and unreal)
http://library.thinkquest.org/5676/effects.htmlhe

Cartoon often offers an intense amount of violence as a resolution to problems. Bullies often go free in movies with no remorse or consequences. If you can not think of an example, look closely at the famous Tom and Jerry! They are always knocking each other down; they use explosives, and damage things just for the children to see that everything is back to normal in the following scene.
Another example is the popular “Power Rangers”. The movie includes 200 violent movements in an hour that the broadcasters in Canada stopped airing it in the mid-1990s. Sorry to say, the Canadian child can still view it through the American channels.
A shocking study by television researchers Bandura and Ross was done to test the effects of Television violence on kids. They formed two groups of children and showed group A, a girl hitting a doll while group B watched the same girl playing tea party with the same doll. The researchers later gave a similar doll to the two groups. Group A abused the doll while group B gently played with it.
Cartoon characters are created in such a sweet way that we as parents may overlook their negative behavior. For instance, Science proved with no doubt the harmful results of smoking and drinking but, in cartoon even the good guys smoke but for some reason they tend to smoke pipes while the bad guys tend to smoke cigars and cigarettes as in 101 Dalmatians. With unintended permission, media makers prematurely expose children to topics that parents assume they reserve the right to cautiously approach when their children are ready. Without adults around to guide and explain, the long-term outcome of this exposure to the wrong doings might fade the line between right and wrong.
Miral Maamoun, an M.D. and a mother of four, has her own rules for TV: “I make sure my kids have their father and I as role models. I watch my kids and know what they are exposed to. I only allow TV on the weekend. I eliminate movies with violence. My kids have favorite characters but I make sure those characters stay behind the television’s monitor.”
Are all kids cartoon bad for them?
There are very decent human-like cartoon characters out there and they are not hard to find. Berenstein Bears, Dora the Explorer, Caillou and Franklin, are just some of the cartoon figures that may be good teachers for our children. They get in child-friendly troubles and the solutions are parent-friendly solutions.
Linda A. Silvius, a former teacher and a current school coordinator for Project Cornerstone, a project aimed for raising better children, explains: “if cartoons present positive images of children - and positive images of adults to children, it can not help but have a positive impact - and the reverse, is also true.”
When I asked Malak, a three year old fan of “Dora the Explorer”, why she loves Dora, she said, “I love Dora because I love her so much”.
Kids cannot help but getting attached to what they are exposed to without knowing the reason. It is their innocence and cute curiosity that ties them to whoever offers them knowledge; whether it is positive or negative.
Engaging kids in various natural activities away from the electronic parent can be a bit challenging but rewarding. Here are some suggestions to limit or eliminate the electronic parent:
• Spend time with the kids instead of spending time around the kids. Being in the same room is not enough.
• If your child attends school, ask about her day and get as much details as possible in a friendly way.
• Televisions, play stations, and computers should not be part of kids’ rooms.
• Read one verse of the Qur’an everyday and tell the story behind it in your most lively way.
• A nice trip to the library can load your kids with hours of fun. If the cybernetic parent is forced to remain off, books will slowly take over.
• Public libraries are full of books on tapes. It is a good substitute to television and not as addictive.
• Keep papers, colors, glue, and scissors where kids can reach them. After all, cleaning a mess is a reasonable price for having creative kids.
• Never assume that a certain episode is safe without checking. (For more information and for movie rating, check www.parentstv.org and www.kids-in-mind.com.
Kids should be able to live without television, if not then it’s our duty to teach them to critique and analyze. When the electronic parent is on, human parents should not let go of the steering wheel or in this case, the remote control.
©Marwa Sabry, 2009

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Hidden Parent By Marwa Sabry

Is your Child watching the right cartoon?


By Marwa Sabry

In a kindergarten class in an Islamic school, the teacher asked the students what they want to be when they grow up. A little girl’s hand shot up in the air, “When I grow up I want to be a Power-Puff Girl”. A boy shouted: “I want to be a Spiderman”. Years ago, people were used to hear, “I want to be like my mother,” or, “I want to be like my father.” Nowadays, there is another parent behind the screen influencing our children.

The average American child watches 28 hours of TV weekly. This concludes that she spends more than one day a week facing the screen. Television is an affordable baby sitter and it works well with today’s busy life style. Kids can hardly get bored of flipping channels; there are just too many of them. The sad part is that most media makers (cartoonists included) work without the children’s interests in mind.

Children assess what is real on TV and what is not based on what they know about both, television and the world. By age three, children realize that they can not control what is behind the screen. Between three and four, they realize that the TV world and theirs are two different worlds. All the same, children imitate what they see in the magic window and learn from its heroes.

” Spiderman, Batman, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, you name it, kids want to dress up like those cartoon characters”, notes Marwa Afifi, a kindergarten teacher and a mother of two,” these figures are sources of joy for children. Problem rises when kids apply the wrong scenes. Boys like to copy the prince in the “Sleeping Beauty” and girls love to be her.”

Islam teaches us great values such as obeying Allah and parents, respecting the elders, compassion and caring for the younger. Cartoons overlook all the above and more. Lion King and Little Mermaid are examples of becoming heroes by disregarding rules.

Cartoon and Violence



Cartoon often offers an intense amount of violence as a resolution to problems. Bullies often go free in movies with no remorse or consequences. If you can not think of an example, look closely at the famous Tom and Jerry! They are always knocking each other down; they use explosives, and damage things just for the children to see that everything is back to normal in the following scene.

Another example is the popular “Power Rangers”. The movie includes 200 violent movements in an hour that the broadcasters in Canada stopped airing it in the mid-1990s. Sorry to say, the Canadian child can still view it through the American channels.

A shocking study by television researchers Bandura and Ross was done to test the effects of Television violence on kids. They formed two groups of children and showed group A, a girl hitting a doll while group B watched the same girl playing tea party with the same doll. The researchers later gave a similar doll to the two groups. Group A abused the doll while group B gently played with it.

Cartoon characters are created in such a sweet way that we as parents may overlook their negative behavior. For instance, Science proved with no doubt the harmful results of smoking and drinking but, in cartoon even the good guys smoke but for some reason they tend to smoke pipes while the bad guys tend to smoke cigars and cigarettes as in 101 Dalmatians. With unintended permission, media makers prematurely expose children to topics that parents assume they reserve the right to cautiously approach when their children are ready. Without adults around to guide and explain, the long-term outcome of this exposure to the wrong doings might fade the line between right and wrong.

Miral Maamoun, an M.D. and a mother of four, has her own rules for TV: “I make sure my kids have their father and I as role models. I watch my kids and know what they are exposed to. I only allow TV on the weekend. I eliminate movies with violence. My kids have favorite characters but I make sure those characters stay behind the television’s monitor.”

Are all kids cartoon bad for them?

There are very decent human-like cartoon characters out there and they are not hard to find. Berenstein Bears, Dora the Explorer, Caillou and Franklin, are just some of the cartoon figures that may be good teachers for our children. They get in child-friendly troubles and the solutions are parent-friendly solutions.

Linda A. Silvius, a former teacher and a current school coordinator for Project Cornerstone, a project aimed for raising better children, explains: “if cartoons present positive images of children - and positive images of adults to children, it can not help but have a positive impact - and the reverse, is also true.”

When I asked Malak, a three year old fan of “Dora the Explorer”, why she loves Dora, she said, “I love Dora because I love her so much”.

Kids can not help but getting attached to what they are exposed to without knowing the reason. It is their innocence and cute curiosity that ties them to whoever offers them knowledge; whether it is positive or negative.

Engaging kids in various natural activities away from the electronic parent can be a bit challenging but rewarding. Here are some suggestions to limit or eliminate the electronic parent:



• Spend time with the kids instead of spending time around the kids. Being in the same room is not enough.

• If your child attends school, ask about her day and get as much details as possible in a friendly way.

• Televisions, play stations, and computers should not be part of kids’ rooms.

• Read one verse of the Qur’an everyday and tell the story behind it in your most lively way.

• A nice trip to the library can load your kids with hours of fun. If the cybernetic parent is forced to remain off, books will slowly take over.

• Public libraries are full of books on tapes. It is a good substitute to television and not as addictive.

• Keep papers, colors, glue, and scissors where kids can reach them. After all, cleaning a mess is a reasonable price for having creative kids.

• Never assume that a certain episode is safe without checking. (For more information and for movie rating, check www.parentstv.org and www.kids-in-mind.com.

Kids should be able to live without television, if not then it’s our duty to teach them to critique and analyze. When the electronic parent is on, human parents should not let go of the steering wheel or in this case, the remote control.



The End



©Marwa Sabry, 2009

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Halloween Holloween from an Islamic perspective by Marwa Sabry

Halloween was originally founded on religious bases. When I say religious, I don’t mean Islam but other religions (http://www.holidays.net/halloween/story.htm). Muslims have nothing to do with it but even when we argue that the event is nowadays purely secular and that it is loads of fun, I'd say let's think together before we teach our children to be followers for the mere reason of having fun.
The love of playing and pretending added to the natural love of candy is irresistible especially for children. There is nothing wrong with pretend play but it should be 1-in decent outfits 2-the goal of a Muslim should never be scaring someone 3- We have 364 days in the year to play that game so why the 31st of October? Is it just to follow the crowd? Do we need more followers in the Ummah? I don’t need to think about an answer for this one, it spells itself in the headlines and the streets everyday. What we really need is leaders. We sure don’t have enough of those and Halloween is a good practice for our children to stop and think-a skill that they will need over and over.
The companions of prophet Muhammad sala Allahu alaihy wa salam once asked him about pre-Islamic holiday and that prophet sala Allahu alaihy wa salam was firm when he said that Allah has given you two better holidays instead.
The concept of Trick or Treat however still bewilders me. Can we play tricks on someone because they didn’t give us what we want? Would we allow our children to do that? Okay, I hear you saying that children don’t play tricks on anyone anymore and that it’s just the name of the game. I’ll say that some children still do and they feel they have the right to do so. Let’s teach our children some dignity. Going from one house to another holding their buckets to be filled by strangers is a form of begging. Is it okay to beg for one day? I’ll say we don’t need more beggers in the Ummah either as we don’t need more followers of others.
Also, Collecting candies is a pure competition in the Dunia in its worst form. The children compete between them to collect the most of the cheap products which emphasize the immoral act of greediness and collection for the sake of collection. When Allah subhanahu wa taala mentioned competition in surat Almutafefeen, He said: “22. Verily, Al-Abr�r (the pious who fear All�h and avoid evil) will be in delight (Paradise).

23. On thrones, looking (at all things).

24. You will recognise in their faces the brightness of delight.

25. They will be given to drink pure sealed wine.

26. The last thereof (that wine) will be the smell of musk, and for this let (all) those strive who want to strive (i.e. hasten earnestly to the obedience of All�h).( http://www.dar-us-salam.com/TheNobleQuran/index.html)

In conclusion, Striving is only acceptable when it counts and candy was never a good reason. Our children today are tomorrow’s leaders and Halloween is a good place to start shaping their minds. Knocking on doors is not a dignified act of a believer. Halloween is a wrong name for this holiday, it should be called “Holloween” for its hollow morals. ©marwa Sabry 2009

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

“NO”, says the toddler.
In a parking lot, a two-year old grabbed her mother’s keys and ran with them.
“Give’ em to me,” ordered the mother.
“No,” said the toddler defensively.
“Give’ em here,” yelled the mother.
“No”, yelled back the toddler.
If you are a parent and you can relate to this scene, chances are you may be responsible for your toddler’s behavior. Simple steps can make your toddler change her attitude but only if you change yours.
Admit
The first step in the healing process is to admit that you might be as stubborn as your child. Your answers to most of her requests may be “no”. Therefore, she does the same. You should not say “no” to your child unless you have a good reason and by that I mean that her demand is either forbidden in Islam, dangerous, or you are sick. If none of the mentioned reasons is true, then say “yes”. The less “nos” your child receives, the more “yeses” you will get in return.
Respond
Respond to your child’s needs so that she learns to trust you and rely on you. Don’t let her feel that her tears don’t mean much to you but don’t hand her anything just because she is crying for it. Express to her that you understand that she is upset and state the reason you believe is behind her anger. Give her words to express her feelings instead of tears or worse screams. When you have her attention, list your reasons for saying “no”.
Change the subject
Sometimes the wisdom relies not in the confrontation but in changing the subject. In the example of the toddler grabbing the keys and refusing to hand it back. The child is too young and the parking lot is not the best place to hold a discussion with a toddler. The solution may lay in the mother’s purse or pockets. Holding another interesting toy or item that you’re not afraid of losing may be just the easiest solution. Show it to the toddler and explain how cute it is in an enthusiastic way. The child may drop the keys or you may be able to make a quick switch while admiring the toy.
Toddlers go through phases of independence and the last thing you want is a confrontation with an independent toddler who relies on you all the time.
©Marwa Sabry 2007
A mother who studies the art of childhood and a Project Corners

Monday, March 2, 2009

Don’t Skip This Dinner

Don’t Skip This Dinner

Mornings in Silicon Valley…Don’t even ask about them. They’re mainly full of hopping on tight schedules and as far as I am concerned, family time may end by each member of the family filing out the door. Evenings however, should definitely be different or we’re risking family ties. Positive relations between family members are essential but they don’t last without nurturing. We can take dinner time to nurture, and sustain healthy relations.
Dining tables whether they’re solid wood or plastic, can offer more than what we shopped for. Everyone in the family should make every effort to join the daily family dinner. Kids should take part in setting or cleaning the table no matter how busy or sloppy they might be. This 10 minutes chore will give them another perspective of what it takes to be part of a family.
Most of all, talk at dinner time. Each one including parents, should take turn mentioning the important things that happened that day. When parents seek their children’s advice, children will do the same when needed. Children should listen to their parents talk about what went wrong in their day and what went right. When it’s the child’s turn, let’s really listen and ask the important questions to show that we truly care. There is no time for details but the main points ought to do the trick of bonding the family.
Some kids will not know how to share their day so here are some questions that will help them get there in shaa Allah:
What was the best thing that happened to you today?
What was the worst thing that happened today?
What did you do in the recess?
Who did you spend your recess with?
These will give you an idea of what’s on top of your child’s head in shaa Allah and you’ll know who her friends are.
मरवा सबरी
a mother who studied the art of childhood

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Thursday, December 25, 2008




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