by Shaffia Khatun
As a qualified Confidence & Life Skills Coach, and a proud mother of three beautiful children, I feel honored to be asked to contribute to Muslim Mommy USA.
According to research, a child in a mother’s womb at six months until the age of seven is like a sponge, absorbing everything around them. These early years are crucial as they will shape their personal development and will form the basis of their sub-conscious mind. In particular, because 95-99% of all our decisions, emotions and behaviors come from our sub-conscious mind, it is so important that we are careful in how we interact with our children. Often, with even the best of intentions we end up saying things to our children that will have devastating consequences on their self-esteem.
So, here are my tips on how to boost your child’s self-esteem.
Every child is individual
Don’t compare them to their siblings. I was guilty of this too. I would often say that my younger son was better at spellings than the older one was, or my daughter was much easier to raise than my second child.
All these negative comments register within our child and will embed in their subconscious mind. They will then go on to believe these negative comments and will begin to develop negative thoughts and habits which will hugely limit their choices and potential.
Every child is an individual. No two people are the same, not even twins!
Our Prophet never compared his Companions to each other. In fact, he praised each Companion for their own amazing quality: whether it was the loyalty of Abu Bakr, the bravery of Ali, the piety of Abdullah ibn Umar, or the trustworthiness of Abu Ubaidah Ibn Jarrah.
We as parents need to have positive attitude
Many mums have said to me that they themselves lack confidence and self-esteem and so struggle to even motivate themselves! However, if we were to make a deliberate effort to act confident in front of our children through displaying positive body language then this will help them tremendously.
So, instead of dismissing a “bright idea” from our child, we should actively encourage them with lots positivity. Panicking and showing nerves, or signs of indecisiveness in front of our children is certainly not going to do them any favours! Be a role model for them.
The Prophet was the best role model and, lead and motivated by example.
Be real with your child & set real goals and expectations
Otherwise you are setting them up to fail. Look at how when a Bedouin asked the Prophet for deeds that would enter him into Jannah, that he was set such simple goals of observing just the Five Pillars.
Like many parents, I wanted my boys to be doctors! However, by expecting them to conform to our pre-determined ideas we are stifling their potential. We need to first liberate our mindset in order to unlock the massive potential every child possesses.
As children grow, they will change what they want to do and what they are interested in, while we as parents need to show interest and support them through these changes.
Set real goals with them from a young age and help them towards it, helping plan the small steps that need to be taken. Also, teach them that goals can change, and the steps we take can also change, and that is okay. In this way, you are teaching them how to adapt and cope with change.
Praise your children for every accomplishment
Big or small, and take interest in their achievements. Their efforts should be rewarded.
We often forget that children are faced with so many difficulties and challenges in modern day society, and for them to take the small steps can be difficult. When this isn’t recognized, this will add to their negative mindset and then they will not even make an effort with the smallest of things.
We must remember that recognition is not buying presents as the “reward.” All you have to do is to praise them with positive words, share a cuddle, and show a genuine happiness of their achievements and that is far more valuable than buying them a toy.
Look at how the Prophet praised even the smallest of actions by saying that “the best of actions are those that are done with consistency however small they may be.”
Carefully address your children’s behavior
Constructive criticism is better than putting them down with negative words – a child will display their emotions through behavior. This is their way of saying they need the attention from you. When we do not give them the attention they need, or give them the wrong kind, this is when they turn away and express through other means such as anger, outbursts, bullying, or even turning to drugs, alcohol , etc.
If you do find your child behaving in negative ways, then take the softer approach.
Give them the time, ask them what they want, and work with them to deal with the situation, as we as addressing the underlying issues. Most parents including myself, are guilty of telling them off, blaming them, accusing them of being a naughty child.
The truth we should face is that the responsibility lie with the parents, because had we given them the right kind of attention when they needed it, and embedded nothing but positivity in them, then they wouldn’t behave in this way. When that they are, be real with them and work together to resolve the issue.
Treat them with love and mercy
Seeing the Prophet kissing his grandson, a person named Alaqr’a Ibn Habis found this behavior strange and said, “I have ten children, but I have never kissed any of them.” The Prophet (s) replied, “The one who has no compassion will not be treated mercifully” (Bukhari and At-Tirmidhi).
Most importantly of all: instill Trust and Tawakkul in Allah in your children.
I will leave you with the beautiful advice of our Prophet that he gave to the 10 year old, Ibn Abbas. Just try and ponder over every confidence boosting word:
About the Author
Sr. Shaffia Khatun is based in the North of England and married with three children.
She has 15 years of experience working with some of the most vulnerable members of society, and ran refuges and women’s centers, lead teams of professionals, as well as set up projects – both locally and nationally – to help victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse.
Sr. Shaffia is a qualified Confidence and Life Skills Coach, who provides bespoke sessions to children and families, to help overcome the growing epidemic of low self-esteem and confidence. She helps establish underlying causes and offers tailored solutions using fun, interactive tools that are easy to learn, and can be used anywhere.
She also provides one to one support, themed workshops and for global clients, remote assistance through WhatsApp, FaceTime, Skype and video calling.
Shaffia Khatun, Confidence & Life Skills Coach – Children & Young People
Dewsbury – United Kingdom