Improving their character (and mine)

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Remember that post I wrote recently? The one where I took some time out to really reflect about where we’re heading in our home ed and as a result changed quite a few things in our home ed?

Well one of the realisations I came to is that whilst academics are important, my ultimate goal is that through this home ed journey I try to raise mumins who love their Lord and have exemplary characters.

So, as part of our weekly home ed I’ve devoted a part of a day to focus on a characteristic.

I don’t want this to simply be me telling them how to behave. Rather I want them to really understand why that particular characteristic is important and for it to become habitual for them.

This week we focused on speaking nicely to one another. One aspect of home ed I find difficult is sibling rivalry. And a lot of the arguments in our home start because someone isn’t speaking nicely. Aside from that I believe that we as Muslims should be conscious of how we speak.

I sat with the children and we spoke about how it feels when someone doesn’t speak nicely to us. I then asked them to role play an example of speaking badly and what that leads to. They went away and came back and did the role play for me. We then discussed how it feels to be spoken to nicely. Again they went away and prepared a role play for me. It was a really good one and I was surprised at the different ways that showed this positive character trait.

After that we took a piece of paper and decided to make a poster to remind us to speak nicely. I let them lead in this and this is what they came up with. ..

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To make it fun we decided to create a family challenge. Whenever someone speaks nicely they get a tick. Person with most ticks gets a prize at the end of that week. The reason behind this is to get them into the habit of speaking nicely. Yes, they might be doing it for the incentive but my hope is that by doing it regularly and me praising them for it, that they will want to do it more often and it will become a part of their nature.

I also told them that sometimes ummi doesn’t speak nicely and so they need to remind me too. I can’t tell you how many times they’ve said ‘Erm ummi…’ (pointing to the poster). But I’m glad as it’s making me look at myself too.

If I want certain characteristics in my children I must have them too!

P.s. At this time of writing z who is normally the first one to shout and say mean words is winning masha’Allah!!

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17 responses »

  1. Assalamu alaikum, sibling rivalry is constant in my house. In shaa Allah I am going to do the same next week. Jazakallah khair for the idea as I am struggling with their constant fight. But they also have good moment together.

  2. MashaAllah this is great!I want to try this too.My wish was (is) to homeschool but hubby is against it, so K is in Grade 1 at a nearby school and R is in pre Gr R. They are not islamic schools as there are none nearby. I have noticed a marked deterioration in their manners and personalities (lots of backchat, fights, disobedience/ disrespect) and am struggling to enforce good behaviour. I’ve tried star charts, timeouts, removing treats….at a bit of a loss.Do you have any tips for me? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Jazaakallah!

    • Jzk for your message. I’m struggling to find things that work too hence introducing this new character part of our home ed. But I’ve noticed that when we really have in depth conversations about certain traits then it does sink in better.

  3. walaikum salaam , i guess i will be the loser if i was doing the chart at home. But a great idea to help parents and children reflect on how they interact.

  4. maashaaAllah excellent reminder.especially for us parents.i will definately be trying this soon inshaaAllah.jazakillah khair sister.wslm

  5. Assalamu alaykum warahmatullahi wabarakatu Dear sis,

    Jazak Allahu Khayran for keeping up us to date with your homeschooling adventures. TabarakAllah, it is great to see this activity having such an impact on your entire household. May Allah swt give you all beautiful manners, ameen.

  6. Asak sisters-just sharing some of my experiences with you. I too have had to battle/am battling sibling rivalry and trying to help my 4 boys (age 6, twins age 4, age 2) develop their Muslim character. It is not an easy thing to do! In despatation (at one stage), I read a lot of books & articles and tried quite a few things. I learnt a lot from my failures & successes. Reward charts never worked for us-very difficult to keep going for multiple simultaneous issues or for a long time. If I didn’t consistently pick up on every single rewardable incident (tiring!) the kids would lose interest and the system would eventually fall apart. Short term goal (like potty training)-they were good, long term behaviour-no good! I spend a lot of time discussing and working on appropriate character traits/behaviour. This works with one of the 4y old twins who is very thoughtful and naturally empathic. It does not work AT ALL for the others-the 2 and other 4y old are too young to really understand and my 6y old cannot seem to carry over this learning to real life very well. Modelling works for us-if they see mum and dad doing it ALL THE TIME, they copy e.g. Holding the door, saying good morning to teachers etc. Direct instruction works-“please help Mrs x carry her bags”. Competition definitely works but I don’t want this to exacerbate rivalry or impact on self confidence. We have a small lit tree on which the kids can place a note or ornament if they have behaved in accordance to Islamic expectations. They LOVE this. They compete to get the reward. However, if 1 child reports the good behaviour of another- he too is rewarded. This means they watch for each others good behaviour and everyone feels good about it. When I’ve stopped this technique, old bad behaviours return. When I restart it, they respond amazingly over for as long as I keep it up. Consistency appears to be key. We reward every night before bed (hard work!). We have a postbox we made together. On the weekend each boy “writes” a note on a decorated laminated (easy wipe) card commending each of his brothers for examples of good character or behaviour or simply expresses effection. I still have to firefight issues (sigh), but overall what we have in place has helped a lot. The boys behave best if TV is limited and they exercise a lot EVERY DAY. I expect I’ll have to change it as they get older/change. IT IS REALLY HARD WORK & is exhausting at times. InshAllah it will be worth it. Your children will all be different, but maybe we can all give each other hope and support.

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