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Fatima is Fatima

by : Dr. Ali Shari'ati

Back You are here: Home Books Family Principles of Upbringing Children

Principles of Upbringing Children - When the Child Starts to See the World around Him

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The child is a man in miniature and its nature too will be social. It needs the help and support of others to live. It will have its attention focussed on others; it derives benefit from them and provides benefits to them in return. But for a few months the newborn does not recognise others and is not capable of giving them any attention. By the time it is four months old the rudiments of social nature start showing in his acts. From this time it gives attention to the surroundings and starts observing the action of its mother.

It starts reacting to the acts of the mother. If the mother smiles, it smiles back. If the mother moves her eyebrows, it does the same in return. It looks at the toys with interest and smiles. It starts gauging others feelings of happiness and anger. It is taken aback at the slightest expression of anger. .

When the child is confronted with happy and bright faces it jumps towards them. It wants to sit up and look at the world around it.

At this stage the parents should take care with realisation that the child has developed a sense of the surroundings and is a full-fledged member of the family. The child is able to give attention to the others in the family and is, to an extent, able to understand their feelings. In the four months of its life the child has gone through experiences and experiments and has acquired memory for things around him. This is the dawn of the future social being in him.

If the parents are thoughtful in trying to nurture this instinct in the child, he can be helped to develop into a useful member of the society. Otherwise, the child starts becoming oblivious of the outside world and becomes restricted to the valley of its own inner world. He can turn into an introvert and becomes a recluse. He will become a victim of inferiority complex.

The parents therefore carry an onerous responsibility. They should be aware that the child has feelings and takes effect of their behaviour. They must keep their attention focussed on him. They should come to the presence of the child with a smiling and pleasant face. They should talk with the child affectionately. They should provide to the child educational toys so that it gets acquainted with the outside world with ease and comfort.

If the felt needs and desires of the child are fulfillled, it will feel comfortable. It starts feeling that others wish him well and are his benefactors. When he receives good treatment, the child gets ready to be a good member of the society. Good and thoughtful parents don’t beat the children nor do they treat them harshly. They are aware that such attitude will have adverse effect on the mind of the child and render him a defeatist and timid person.

The Prophet of Islam has said:

“Respect your children and give them a good upbringing that Allah blesses you." (Makarim al-akhlaq, p. 255)


Man is ever thirsty for love and affection. Love gives life. to hearts. One, who loves oneself wishes that others too should have similar feelings for him, feels happy in his heart. When a person feels that none in this world loves him: feels forlorn and hapless. He will therefore be always sad and melancholy.

The child too is a man in miniature and, in fact, needs more love and affection than the adults. As the child needs nutrition, so does he need love and affection? The child does not care if he is living in a palace or a shack. But he knows it pretty well whether he is getting the love and affection of his companions or not. From the feeling of love and care the child proceeds on the path of growth and well being. The fountainhead of good character is love and affection. Under the reflection of love the feelings and thoughts of a child can be nurtured properly to make him a good human being.

The child who receives profuse love will have a happy spirit and heart. He will not be a victim of disappointment. He will turn into a person who is confident, good-natured and self-respecting. He will not become a victim of psychological problems. The children who have received the love and affection of the elders are better prepared to face the harsh realities and problems of the adult life.

A girl who has received the love and affection of her parents, and her household, is endowed with the aura of affection, will not succumb to the overtures of a boy in her youth that might affect her future life.A boy who had his upbringing in the atmosphere of true love and affection will not become victim of evils like drugs and drinking.

From the psychological point of view too it is proven that the children who have received profound love and affection of their parents during their growing years are more intelligent and healthy than those who grow in dormitories away from their parents. It is another thing that children from boarding schools may have better nutrition and health care.

But those who have their upbringing in a mechanical atmosphere devoid of feelings of love and affection, and have not experienced close comfort of the company of the Parents, may not have the natural feelings of affection towards others.

A child who has not fully shared the love and affection of his parents will be a victim of the feeling of deprivation and inferiority. Mostly the cause of anger, shamelessness, short temper, depression etc is the lack of the parents love and affection during the childhood of the person.

The persons who turn to evils like theft and murder in most cases were devoid of parental love and affection in their early lives. They behave like the rebels of the society. They may even have suicidal tendencies. The newspapers and magazines are replete with stories of such unfortunate persons. Dr Hassan Ahdi, chief of the Division of Psychiatry, of The National Society for Care of Children (Anjuman Melli Himayat Bachhagan), has conducted an experiment on five hundred convicts and concluded that the persons committed the first crime at the ages between 12 and 13. The main cause of the delinquency has been lack of love and affection from their families.

He says:

“The rudiments of most of the psychological problems can be traced to the childhood. Even the most balanced child has the problem of allaying his emotions. " (Daily Kihan, Issue 42)

A young person writes:

“I opened my eyes in a poor family in a small village. The upkeep of my two sisters and me was beyond the means of my parents. My grand mother took me to her home. Her circumstances were better. She loved me very much. She used to buy good dresses and other things for me. But these comforts were no substitute for the love and affection of my mother and father that I wanted. I used to feel as if I had lost something. Many a time I used to cry inconsolably hiding from others view.

I was a student of the Third Standard then. Once my father came to meet me. He asked me to come home. I was overjoyed at the prospect and immediately got ready to go. I felt as if my troubles of years have come to an end in a moment. I advise all fathers and mothers not to deprive their children of their presence, love and affection by sending them away howsoever straitened the circumstances. They must realise that living away from the parents and being deprived of their personal love and affection will be very hard on the children. This void cannot be filled by any amount of comforts."

He writes in another letter:

“I was deprived of the love and affection of my parents. That is the reason I am now a heart broken jealous person. I am a cowardly and angry person. In childhood I used to run away from my school. With difficulty I could reach till the Sixth Standard at the school and then dropped out."

The Holy Faith of Islam, which provides great care to the process of upbringing of children, makes particular stress to love and affection for the children. The Quran and Hadith has volumes on the subject. Here, a few examples are sited:

Imam Jafer al Sadiq has said:

“Because of the profound love that the parents have for their children, Allah will include them in His Blessings. (Grace)" (Wasail al-shia, v15, p. 98)

Allah has said to the Prophet Moses (in a hadith al-qudsia): “Loving children is the best of acts because the purpose of their creation is for worship of Allah and witnessing the Unity of Allah. If the children die in their childhood, they would enter the Heaven. (Mustadrak al-wasail,v2, p. 615)

The Prophet of Islam said:

“Love children and be kind to them." (Bihar al-anwar, v104, p. 92)

“Kiss your children profusely, because every time you kiss the child, Allah will advance your position in the Heaven by one stage." (Bihar al-anwar, v104, p. 92)

One person told to the Prophet:

“I have not kissed any child till today."

When that person left the company of the Prophet, he told to his companions,

“In my view the person is destined for the Hell.” (Bihar al-anwar, v104, p. 99)

“A person who is not kind to children and not respectful to elders is not from amongst us." (Bihar al-anwar, v75, p. 147)

Ali, while making his will and last testament said:

"Be kind to children and respectful to your elders." (Bihar al-anwar, v75, p. 146)

The Expression of Love and Affection

Love for ones own children is a natural instinct. Perhaps there will be few parents who don’t love their children from the depths of their hearts. But only loving the child from the heart is not sufficient for the betterment of the child. The child needs love that is reflected in the actions of the parents. The child wants to be kissed, hugged and to be looked at with caring smiles. When the parents sing the lullabies, the child savours their sweetness. The child desires that the parents play with and gambol with him. The child treats this as a sign of love. It considers the anger and conflicts as signs of thoughtlessness. Whenever the parents look at the child at different times, it visualises at that moment if there is a look of love on their faces or not.

There are also parents who shower their love on the child till it is a baby. But as it grows up, they gradually reduce the expression of love and when the child reaches adolescence and adulthood they totally forsake him and even say that any more expressions of love might spoil him. But this is not the right attitude. The child expects the love of his parents throughout his life. He feels joy over the expression of love by the parents and if he finds them ignoring him, he has a feeling of hurt. Particularly the adolescence is a very critical period in the life of a person when support and guidance of the parents is required the most. It is this neglect of the adolescent-adults by their parents that there are many cases of suicide in this age group. There are also cases of such persons fleeing to some unspecified place. It won’t be out of place here to quote some entries from the diary of Nazneen, a teenager:

“When I think of my mom and dad I cannot but laughAlthough they deserve more to be sadly pitied than laughed atMom is busy in her own world, occupied with her daily chores. She wants to sit gossiping for hours at end with Aunt Vizri Jaan and Lady Hamida. If some of us sisters and brothers arrive in the midst of these conversations for some errand, she abhors the interruption. She doesn’t realise that while gossiping about the idiosyncrasy of others’ footwear and attire she makes me feel like a bird who is fluttering around to pour its heart’s feeling to someone. Mom and Dad are either busy arguing with one another or sitting with friends for society gossip.

Or otherwise, they are away from home. I am also busy at the school from morning to evening on all working days. It is since many days that I have set eyes on Dad. My teacher of Literature is a psychologist. Today he talked on the effect that a father can have on the psyche of his daughter. His talk went straight to my heart. He was right in saying that I am a grown up in the eyes of everyone. But I feel the need of the guidance of my dad more than at any other time in my life. There is need for the moral strength of someone wise and kind. But he, my Dad, seems to have no time for this." (Daily Itallaat, Issue 14112, Khurdad Month 1358)

The best place for the training of a child, particularly in the early stages of life, is the home. In this period the child receives total attention, kindness and love of the parents. The parents are advised that as far as possible they don’t entrust their small children to the care of crèches. Perhaps, these crèches may be better equipped for hygiene and nutrition but they provide a cold and strange environment to the child. The place will be like a gaol for the child who wants the company of the parents more than anything else. Only good environs and nutrition cannot fill the void created by the absence of the love and care of the parents.

The Prophet of Islam has observed:

“If you like someone, express your feelings to him. This expression of love brings you closer to each other." (Mustadrak al-wasail,v 2, p. 67)

The Prophet used to play with his children and grand children every morning expressing his love and affection for them. (Mustadrak al-wasail,v 104, p. 99)

Love: Not an Instrument of Convenience

Because the child needs the love and affection of the parents, some parents make use of this urge of the children for their own ends. They ask the child to do a certain thing that the mom would love him and ask him not to do certain things or otherwise mom would not love him. No doubt, a certain degree of control can be exercised on the child’s action in this manner.But continuing with this strategy for long can be detrimental. The child will get into the habit of doing things only to please the parents and not for any benefit for him and the society at large. He starts deciding the reason for doing any work with the sole purpose of pleasing someone.

He doesn’t get the realisation that his actions have to be tuned to the welfare of the society and the humanity in general There are lots of parents who value personal benefit more than the good of the society. Their children become flunkies, flatterers, hypocrites and impostors because their purpose in life becomes pleasing others at any cost. Therefore, a clever and thoughtful mentor wouldn’t use the love and affection of the child for selfish ends.

Love Should not become a Hindrance to Good Upbringing

There are parents who will love their children to such an extent that they don’t realise what is good and what is bad for their upbringing. When they notice any fault in the child, or when someone else points out the fault, they overlook it not to displease the child. You must have seen such children who hurt other children, trouble other persons, break windowpanes in the neighbourhood and use abusive language with others. The parents of such children not only ignore to correct them, but they also keep a phlegmatic smile on their faces as if the child has done nothing wrong.

Thus they abet the undesirable acts of the children. They do a great disservice to their own children. This neglect of proper upbringing is not pardonable in the eyes of Allah. Love for the children doesn’t mean that the parents close their eyes to the norms of good upbringing. Good parents are those who make a clever mix of love and good upbringing. They love the children and keep a realistic eye on the behaviour of the child. They cleverly try to correct the faults of the child.

They make the child realise that he is not free to do wrong acts. He is made aware of the fact that if the parents love him for the good things he does; he may be punished for anything wrong committed by him. The parents have to realise that the child will grow into an adult and will have to interact with others in the society. If, because of their extreme love for the child, they have neglected their duty of training him in the norms of good behaviour, he will not be welcome in the society and others will avoid him or even hate and abhor him. It must be borne in minds that other people will not be like the parents who close their eyes to every fault of the child and continue loving him. In the society a person is accepted for his good behaviour only.

Imam Mohammed Baqir says:

“The worst father is that who loves his child beyond limits." (Yaqubi, Tarikh, v2, p. 320)

Ali, The Commander of the Faithful, says:

“One who has been taught good manners, his faults have been reduced." (Ghirar al-hukm, v2, p.645)

Imam Mohammed al Baqir said:

“My revered father saw a person going with his son. The impolite son was reclining on the arm of his father. My father, Imam Zain al Abidin, was so upset with the impertinent child that for the rest of his life he didn’t talk to him."

The Spoilt Child

This is a reality that every child wants love and affection; but excess of love borders on pampering. Love is like food and in optimum measure it is very beneficial but excess of it will be harmful in many ways. Excessive pampering and mollycoddling will adversely affect the upbringing of the child. The child is not a plaything for the parents and nor should it be treated as a source of recreation by them. The child , in fact, is a precursor of the man of the future.

It has to be brought up carefully and methodically. The responsibility for the upbringing, training and education of the child rests with the parents. The child grows into an adult and has to be a part of the society. It will have to face the ups and downs of life, successes, failures, rise, fall, happiness and sorrow as it goes along in its life span.

A good mentor will have all these factors in mind and prepare the novice to capably confront all the tests and hurdles which might confront him. The parents should be aware of the fact that love and affection is essential for good breeding of the child but excess of these can also come in the way of the desired results. The children who get excess of love and affection are likely to be spoilt with very harmful consequences.

When a child realises that the parents love it very much, always allow him to have his own way, then naturally his demands will increase by leaps and bounds. He gets into the habit of ordering and expecting tacit compliance from the parents who are not willing to displease him. In such children the tendency of despotism keeps increasing with passage of time. When such persons enter the ranks of the society they expect the same compliance from their fellow citizens, as they did with the parents and other members of the family. But people don’t like self-seeking persons nor do they take cognisance of their wishes.

This attitude of the people dampens the spirit of the selfish persons and they become the victims of the feeling of defeat and ennui. They develop a strong feeling of inferiority complex and tend to become recluses. In acute cases they think of committing suicide to escape from the psychological pressures that go beyond their ken.

The marital lives ofsuch persons too are generally on the rocks. Such persons expect too much love from their spouses and expect them to comply with all their wishes, howsoever unreasonable they might be. But in practical lives, there is always the need of give-and-take and seldom there are any spouses who submit to one way traffic in their livesThere are innumerable wives who take cudgels against unreasonable attitudes adopted by their husbands. The result is domestic unrest. Similarly a pampered daughter, when married, expects greater love from her husband than he has for his parents. She expects him to meet all her demands without giving a thought to their reasonableness.

Generally men do not like complying with all the wishes of such nagging wives. The result, naturally, is constant bickering in the family. Such men and women are also seen who continue the childish habit of quarrelling in their advanced ages. Such persons are so immature that they continue to behave like small children in their adult days.

The children getting their upbringing with over-indulgent, pampering parents are generally of delicate constitution and frail physique. They generally look for the support of others and are not independent. Whenever they face any hardship, they look for avenues of escape. They lack courage of taking up big and difficult tasks. If faced with difficulties, they look for succour from others than depending on their own selves and on Allah.

The persons who have received over-indulgent upbringing are generally egotistic and self-centred. Having received superficial praises in their early days, they assume false airs of importance during their adult life. They are not able to discern their own failings and, to the contrary, think that these very lacunae are their merits. They work under a false sense of pride, which in itself is a grave psychological ailment.

Ali has said:

“Self-conceit (egotism) is the worst thing." Ghirar al-hukm, v?,p. 446)

“A person who is an egoist and is living within himself, will become aware of his own flaws and failings." (Ghirar al-hukm, v?, p.685)

Such a person expects others to heap on him their false praises. He will therefore have sycophants and flatterers around him. But the forthright and true persons will not have any place in his company. The egoists, instead of winning devotion of others, generally invite their ire.

Imam Ali has said:

“Whoever is an egoist and self-centred will be confronted with lot of difficulties." (Ghirar al-hukm, v?, p.659)

The children who receive excessive love and care and their parents are overindulgent towards them, they will in stages dominate the parents. When they grow into adults, they persist with the dominating trait and their expectations surpass the means of the parents.

If the parents express their inability to meet their demands, they have recourse to lots of hullabaloo to get their way. Because such children are aware of the overindulgence of the parents, they always have recourse to lies to get what they wish to have.

Parents at times come to such a pass that out of their love they overlook the need for good upbringing and indulge the child’s whims and fancies. They close their eyes to the failings of the child and neglect the need for reforming him. To humour the child, the parents sometimes overlook the norms fixed by the religion (shariah )

Imam Mohammed Baqir says:

“The worst father is one who exceeds unreasonably in the love for his child." (Ghirar al-hukm, v?, p.659)

The child should always live in optimism and fear (of God). He should have the feeling that truly he is the beloved of the parents and they would come to his rescue in times of need. He should also be made aware of the fact that for any fault of his the parents would hold him accountable.

Dr. Jalali writes:

“If a child lives in an environment where he is pampered, always others take sides with him, close their eyes to his wrong deeds and he is not groomed for the harsh realities of the future; he will then be subject to many hardships as a member of the society. From his very birth the child has to be trained that he has to exist with others in the society and his wishes have to be in harmony with the wishes of others in the society." (Ruwan shinashi kudak, p. 354)

Dr Jalali also writes:

“Love for the child is essential. But the feeling in a child that the parents spend all their time humouring him is not right." (Ruwan shinashi kudak, p. 461)

If the child cries unnecessarily and expresses anger to win the attention of the parents to fulfill his unfair demands, then the parents should firmly and tactfully deny compliance. They should leave him alone for a while for him to realise that he cannot always get his way. If the parents exercise some patience in such situations, the child will become quiet after some protestation.

If a child falls on the ground, it is not necessary to pick him up or console him. Let the child rise himself when he falls down. Train him to take care that he does not fall again. When a child hits his head against a wall by accident, it is not necessary to kiss him or over-indulge him. Instead, he should be trained to take care of himself against such happenings again. When a child is indisposed, medical treatment should be arranged for him. Proper attention should be given to the child’s illness, but daily chores should be attended to as usual. The parents should have their rest, sleep and food as normally as possible by not spending all their time near the bed cuddling the sick child. This behaviour over indulgence doesn’t help in any way, but it can aggravate the child’s habit of craving for the attention of the parents.

A lady writes:

“After the first two daughters my parents had their first son. I cannot forget the celebratory mood of my mother at that time. My parents pampered my sibling so much that at the age of two years he used to beat us sisters. He used to bite us and we had no courage to defend ourselves. Whatever he desired was made available to him without any fuss. He used to be naughty with other children. For going to school he was shown lot of indulgence. But he used to avoid doing any schoolwork. He never paid the slightest heed to his teachers. He never progressed and ultimately dropped out of school. Now that he is a grown up adult, he is an uneducated and lonely person. He takes no interest in any work and has become very excitable. He has no love for his sisters.

Our dear brother has become a victim of the faulty upbringing and excessive indulgence of our parents!"

Sucking of Thumbs

It is the common habit of small children that they suck their thumbs. Generally at three months age the babies commence thumb sucking and keep doing it for sometime. The natural cause of this habit can be the breast-feeding of the baby. When it is hungry it either suckles the breast of the mother or the rubber-soothers. The child feels that sucking gives it comfort and over a time learns that it can suck its thumb when the mother’s breast is not available to it.

This is a part of the learning process of the child. It detects the usefulness of sucking its thumb and gets used to the habit. This habit comes handy to the child when it is hungry and the feed is not available to it; also it can allude to thumb sucking if it has any feeling of discomfort. Many parents think that thumb sucking is not a good habit and devise ways of stopping the child from doing it. Here it must be mentioned that orthodontists consider thumb sucking adversely affects the natural configuration of teeth and the mouth, many dentists and doctors have felt that thumb sucking in children is not so harmful.

One expert says:

“Many psychologists and paediatricians opine that thumb sucking habit in children is not harmful in any way and in most instances it doesn’t become the cause of any defect in the mouths. They also observe that this habit tapers off automatically once the child has set its milk teeth." (Ruwan shinashi kudak, p. 172)

But, nevertheless it is possible that this habit might cause some health problems because generally the child’s fingers are exposed to the atmosphere and might carry some infectious material into the mouth. Most parents therefore don’t want their child to get into the habit of thumb sucking.

Apparently this habit of thumb sucking is not a serious problem and if a child gets used to it, the habit will leave him as he grows up. But if the parents want, they can take steps to see that the child does not get into the habit at the initial stages. Preventing a child from the habit of thumb sucking is far easier than stopping it after it has got habituated.

When the parents initially notice the tendency of thumb sucking in the child, they should try to find the reason, give it more milk if its hunger is not satiated, and if it gets hungry between the feeding schedule give it some fruit juice or biscuit. But if the reason for thumb sucking is some discomfort, it must be properly investigated and remedy found.

If the child gets into the habit of thumb sucking despite all the preventive steps, then it will be difficult to check the habit. Another method of checking this habit in children is to provide them with good and soft toys with a view to divert their mind from thumb sucking. If the child is provided company of some other child to play with, it might not suck the thumb during the time they are at play. The other alternative tool for avoiding thumb sucking is to give the child a rubber-soother to suck. But here too there will be a chance of the child getting habituated to the tool for a period of time.

However, the parents have to practice patience and restraint in checking this habit in children and they should not have recourse to punishing the child to the detriment of its psyche. The parents should bear in mind that however strong the habit of thumb sucking in a child, it will leave him by about four or five years of age.


Fear is a universal phenomenon. Every living creature has the instinct of fear to a lesser or greater extent. In abstract terms fear is essential for the safety of human beings. A person who doesn’t have the instinct of fear is not a psychologically normal person. This is the fear which makes man run away from dangerous calamities and save himself from death. Therefore, fear is a blessing that God has infused in the nature of human beings. But this blessing is useful only when man utilises it judiciously. Otherwise it will bring about harmful results. Fear manifests itself in two main forms:

First: Imaginary, misplaced and inane fears.

Second: Meaningful, reasonable and legitimate fears.

Inane Fears:

The first category of inane fear can be the fear of devils, evil spirits; fear of the darkness, fear of harmless animals like cats, rats, frogs, camels, horses. Fear of thieves and burglars, fear of cadavers, the coffins; fear of the doctor and the shots he injects, fear of the lightning and fear of sleeping alone; fear of the examinations; fear of disease and death. There are a lot of such baseless fears that can become the bane of a person if he is not able to overcome them.

He is always obsessed with the fears and wakes up sometimes from sleep shouting and yelling as a result of seeing disturbing and horrendous dreams. Unnecessary fear and tension is a psychic illness that can have very harmful effects on the child’s future life. A timid person will lack courage and while taking any major decisions he will be subject to great pressure. He will avoid meeting people and will always be worried and crestfallen. He will run away from congregations and will prefer a lonely existence. Several psychic illnesses spring from such inane fears in a person.

Ali, The Commander of the Faithful, says:

“Fear is calamitous." (Gharar al hukm, p. 8)

Therefore a good mentor will makes efforts to see that the child remains free of unfounded fears. We have some suggestions here for the consideration of the mentors:

1. Preventing fears is far better than curing them. Try to ensure that the child is not exposed to situations of unfounded fears that it turns timid. Psychologists observe that the sound of a running locomotive, lightning, thunders, sound of alarms and noises near the head of a baby can be the initial causes of fear in a child. As far as possible protect the child from such exposures.

2. Fear is infectious. The child by nature is not timid. But if the parents and others in his environment are timid, then the child gets into this habit. If you wish that your child had no fears, then seek a cure for your own fears. Don’t express fear over unfounded causes of fear.

3. Watching films on the subject of crime and punishment, watching and listening to horror stories on the television and radio, reading and hearing mystery stories and even reading accounts of fearsome events in the papers and journals can be harmful for the children. As far as possible keep the impressionable children away from such things. Never talk about the Jinns and fairies to the children. If they have heard from some quarters about these, convince them that the existence of the Jinns is confirmed by the Quran but they also lead lives like the human beings and don’t do us any harm.

4. Abstain from intimidating the child for his training. Don’t frighten him with mention of the devil and evil spirits. These methods might be effective momentarily but they can render the child timid. As a punishment for misdemeanour the child should never be confined to a lonely dark corner. Some thoughtless mothers produce the sound of a cat or a dog from behind a wall to quieten their crying children. They don’t know the harm such things might cause to the impressionable mind of the little child.

A person writes in his diary:

“Our grandma was in the habit of going to another room in the house and shouting in a changed tone,’ I am the devilI have come to your house to eat you !”We used to fall quiet with fear and in the belief that it was really the devil. Over a period of time such acts rendered me a timid person. This is the reason that I cannot stir alone out of my house. I am now a timid and nervous adult"

One woman writes:

“I was around five years then. I was playing one day in the courtyard with my cousin. Suddenly we noticed a horrible apparition. It had a big head, shining eyes, big long teeth, long and lose black dress and big black shoes in its feet. It was in the middle of the courtyard. Making weird sounds it wanted to gobble us. We yelled and ran into the dark attic. I clawed the wall with such intensity that my fingers were bruised. I fell unconscious with fear. I had to be rushed to the doctor to revive me.

For a long time I used to hide myself in corners with fear and the slightest commotion would upset my nerves. Even now I have shattered nerves and am unable to concentrate on any activity. Later on I learnt that the apparition was a practical joke of another of my cousins. She put a painted earthen pot over her head to frighten us out of our wits. She has become the cause of my nervous condition."

5. If your child is timid because of your carelessness or other causes, then don’t neglect his condition any further. Try to rectify the situation as soon as possible. If the child realises that his fears are unfounded, he will become normal by himself. But shouting at the child and ridiculing him and putting him to shame in front of others is no solution for the problem. Such acts on the one hand do not remove the child’s fears and on the other hand make him morose and despondent. He doesn’t want to remain timid. Your carelessness and other causes have made him timid.

Try to find the causes of his fears with patience and thoughtfulness. Then search for remedies. If the child is afraid of imaginary devils and evil spirits, convince him that there are no such things. Tell him that the Jinns have nothing to do with the humans. If the child fears the harmless animals, demonstrate to him practically that the animals are harmless. If the child is scared of darkness,acquaint him with places with reduced lighting.

When you are yourself with the child, momentarily put off the light. Then progressively increase the period of darkness. When you are in the same room with the child at some distance, repeat the experiment of putting off and switching on the lights. Repeat these trials with patience till the fear of darkness is removed from the mind of the child. RememberNo harsh methods should be employed to correct the fear complex of the child. Forcing a child to face the things he fears will have negative results.

If the child is afraid of going to the doctor and taking vaccinations then convince him with love and affection about the need for the treatment. Sometimes the situation demands that the child has to be admitted to a paediatric hospital. It will be a difficult time that the child does not like to be away from the parents. If the child is forced to admit in the hospital against his wish, it can be very difficult on him Sometimes it is useful to acquaint the child with the environment of a hospital.

When the parents go visiting a patient in a hospital, they should take the child there for a short visit that he gets acquainted with the environment. Meeting the kind doctors and nurses in the hospital will remove the fear from the child’s mind and in the event of his needing hospitalisation he would agree to comply without much fuss. Before taking the child to the hospital the parents should convince him that his health needs the attention of the kind doctors and nurses and he must go to the hospital to get well soon and return. Tell him that they would visit him at the hospital along with other members of the family.

Never tell a falsehood to the child. When you have to leave him in the hospital bed, don’t tell him that he should sleep and you will remain seated there. Don’t give him a false hope that he would not be given the medicines. Convince him that he is ill and the treatment at the hospital is necessary for his quick recovery.

Legitimate Fears:

As far as the legitimate fears of a child are concerned, the mentor should adopt a clever, thoughtful attitude towards them. Mention about dangerous situations to the child and discuss their remedies. Inform him about the bad consequences of negligence. Demonstrate to him the correct use of matches, gas and electrical gadgets and the dangers associated with these things. Teach him the right way of crossing a busy road and acquaint him with the traffic rules for the pedestrians. Frankly mention to the child the dangers which might confront him in his daily life. Acquaint him with the safety measures and create in him the faith on himself and trust in Allah. He should be prepared to meet the challenges in his daily life, rather than getting scared of the dangers around him.

Another legitimate fear is the fear of death. But excessive fear of death turns into a psychic ailment. This fear takes away the spiritual calm and composure from a person. And blunts his physical capabilities. It is therefore necessary to take preventive measures against this type of fear. For sometime the child does not understand the meaning of death.

It is better the mentor don’t talk about this phenomenon at this stage. But sometimes the child learns about this at the death of someone close to him. It is quite possible the child might ask questions about death in such a situation. If the child has reached the stage of understanding at that time, then the parents must reveal to him the truth. They must tell him that death is not anything special but it is a transition from the present world to another. In that world he will get reward for his good deeds and retribution for his evil deeds committed in this world.

Everyone has to die one day. Allah says in the Holy Quran, ‘All people will die’. Death is not important but the actions in this life are important that the Judgment in the other world is made according to the actions of the person in this life.

Excessive thought of death is not good. It should not enter the realm of a lurking fear . This will be harmful. Another positive aspect of fear is the fear of God and the fear of the Day of Judgment. These fears should not be so intense that they result in nervous tensions for the person. These fears encourage a person to do good deeds and stop him from evil acts. Therefore Allah says in the Holy Book:

“If you are among the faithful, fear not others and fear Me alone." (Quran, 3:175)

Also the Quran describes the hardships and retributions of the Day of Judgment. Therefore a thoughtful and faithful mentor puts the idea of the rewards and punishments of the Hereafter in the impressionable minds of his charges.

It will be in place to remind that a good mentor should not all the time talk of the Heaven and the Hell and give an impression to the child that God is severe on His creations. But the mentor should acquaint the child more with the benevolence of Almighty Allah.