As part of the Islamic Manners for Children series, we learn about the letter P is for Patience. Patience in Islam is called as Sabr.
As a parent of young children, do you sometimes wonder if you can children can really be taught to have patience? I know it is not 100% possible but to an extent yes we can teach them how to control their impulses.
The kind of behavior that most parents notice is that children want whatever they want right then and there. There will be constant whining if they don’t get their way. When they grow older, they may backtalk and complain when things don’t happen the way they want..
As part of the Islamic Morals series, we will address this from both the Islamic point of view and the positive parenting way to address the behavior.
What can you teach about Patience in Islam:
- God loves those who have patience. When you are patient, it means you trust that God will make every thing okay.
- Why to have patience. Because everything needs to happen at it’s own time. Part of being a believer is to believe in the unknown. (Refer the first few verses of Surah al Baqarah. You can read out the meaning to them too)
- Things have been predestined. God made everything and He has command over all of it. We can change our destiny through prayer but we need to believe that what is to happen will happen and none can stop it.
- You get something better when you have waited for something better.
- Use examples from their own life or stories from your life to tell them events when you had patience and the outcome was good. Children love examples and personal stories are very helpful in understanding real life situations and how they should react.
Virtues of Patience in Islam
There are numerous Hadith on this topic and various mentions in the Holy Quran about the importance of patience, perseverance and prayer. You can refer this excellent post about the virtues of patience.
One of the common, easy to remember verses from the Quran that you can teach the children is:
“Surely, Allah is with those who are As‑Sabiroon (the patient)” [Surah al-Anfaal 8:46]
A few Hadith that kids can learn on this topic:
- Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said: “Whoever persists in being patient, Allah will make him patient. Nobody can be given a blessing better and greater than patience.” (Al-Bukhari).
- The reward of being patient while the true believer is afflicted with any kind of calamities and trials. Holy Prophet (SAW) said: “No fatigue, nor disease, nor sorrow, nor sadness, nor hurt, nor distress befalls a Muslim, even if it were the prick he receives from a thorn, but that Allah expiates some of his sins for that.” (Al-Bukhari)
- Holy Prophet (SAW) said: “The believer who mixes with people and bears their annoyance with patience will have a greater reward than the believer who does not mix with people and does not put up with their annoyance.” (Ibn Majah)
- Be mindful of Allah and be patient as Prophet (PBUH) said: “Verily, patience is at the first strike” (Sahih Bukhari)
Dua for patience that you can teach and learn to say:
You can help your child learn about what it really means to have patience by teaching them this dua. I always feel that when we teach our children to pray, it means we are empowering them.
Rabbanaa afrigh ‘alaynaa sabran wa tawaffanaa muslimeen (Surah Al-‘A`rāf, Verse 126)
Translation: ”Our Lord, pour upon us patience and cause us to die as Muslims [in submission to You].”
How can we help our children have more Patience:
The 20 second Rule:
With preschoolers and toddlers, the biggest struggle is that when they want something, they want it then and there. If you are on the phone, they will keep disturbing you till you get to them. They may act up or throw a full blown tantrum when you don’t listen. How do you teach them to have some control on themselves (and also on the situation)?
Kids want power and attention. If they feel powerless or sense that you are not giving them their due attention, then they will act up. Also, we must all remember that children don’t understand time. Most of us have a habit of saying ‘two minutes please’ or something along the lines. Children don’t understand that.
I have a simple trick that always works with small children. It sometimes works with my older child too. I call it the 20second rule. It is very simple. You only need to teach them to count.
I started my children on this when they were just over an year old. Whenever I am busy like for example in the kitchen or somewhere, I would start counting from 1-20. You have to be very clear and maintain some cheer in your voice. Keep on counting slowly and deliberately.
You can say, ‘ Let’s count to 20. 1…, 2…, 3…, ‘
When you come to 20 leave whatever you are doing immediately and attend to them. This will help them associate the number counting with how long they have to wait.
My children were counting numbers 1-20 by age two thanks to this habit. I once surprised a friend at a coffee date when she heard my 2 year old standing next to me and counting. I stopped immediately and addressed her. My friend was amazed that such a small child could not just count to 20 but also her fun and respectable way to get attention.
Don’t tease their patience when they are tired or hungry.
If you have older children, it is much easier to teach this trick I have mentioned above. Mostly, I have seen that tweens and younger school children bother their parents as soon as they see you on the phone texting or they see that you are social media.
Firstly, have some screen time rules for yourself. Try not to have a phone in your hand around them. My children hate it when I have a phone between 3-5pm. It is the witching hour!
Kids misbehave when they are hungry, tired or sleepy. Don’t you think it is wrong to call children impatient when we are testing their limits ourselves? Even adults are HANGRY. (Hungry + Angry) 🙂
Teach the word ‘Sabr’
It is always a good idea to have one word or one visual reminder that helps children recognize when they need to wait. I use the word Sabr when I have to tell them to wait.
Just that one word – Sabr, It tells them that I am asking them to wait. I say nothing else.
Here in the Arab world, we have a hand sign for it as well. You may know it if you have ever been here or brought up here. It is a universal sign here. People of all religions and languages understand what it means. Here is how to make the sign.
Bring all your fingers together (point upwards) and shake your hand once. It is a sign of Sabr. 🙂
If you use it often enough, kids will learn to associate it with the word Sabr.
I hope these tips help you talk to your children about Patience in Islam and how to better control their impulses.
Have a great Ramadan.