“My son is depressed about going back to school, and the closer we get to the first day of school, it is getting worse! He’s been throwing tantrums and is refusing to go. What can I do?”
Helping your child get through difficult times can be a daunting task. As parents, our focus should be on what circumstances are making our children feel vulnerable and fearful at school. Is it bullying at school, peer pressure, inability to adapt to a new environment or classmates, identity issues or is there something more? Whatever it may be, helping them with practical solutions will not only make your child more confident, but will also build a strong bond of trust and love towards you.
In this article, let us take a look at some of the most common issues our children face at school, and how we can help them overcome these issues in sha Allah.
Monster 1: Peer Pressure
The Prophet ﷺ said, “A person is on the religion of their close friend.” You will find children attracted to things that their friends have and demand the same back home. Even worse, they observe the celebration of immoral conduct amongst their peers as ‘being cool’ and want to be one of them. Now, the conflict begins. Eventually, they avoid going to school entirely to avoid the situation.
- Don’t go overboard with your reactions: Having a calm and peaceful demeanor is crucial to help you understand why your child is exhibiting unusual behaviour.
- Befriend their friends: When you make your child’s friends feel invited and cared for, they will understand the cultures and values which Islam upholds, in turn, preventing several culture clashes that often occur in peer pressure situations.
- Enlighten them about true friends: Let your child know that a well meaning person will never ask them to do things that they know we’re uncomfortable dealing with.
Monster 2: The Identity Crisis
“Every time I put on my hijab, I feel like I have to wear it in a way that tells that I’m not some oppressed girl, or that I’m still a good Muslim, and that I am prettier and cooler than the rest of you.”
This is the state of our youth and adults alike, where religion is considered to be a burden. It creeps into their personalities, till they start hating their association with Islam in its entirety. They seek different ways to portray an identity that people expect them to be and not what they are. Result? In order to rectify the situation, the best option that the child understands is to stay away from school.
- Be so confident about your religion that your children grow up admiring it. Confidence, beliefs and the way we respond to different situations are characteristics our children observe and emulate.
- Let them know that what Allah thinks about them is more important than what their friends think about them. Reassure them that success in this world comes from Allah alone. Let them know that their central focal point should only be Allah SWT. We should teach them to worry about the weight of Allah’s judgment alone.
This will make their hearts automatically reroute, by the will of Allah.
Monster 3: The Friends
Friendships add to your child’s self-esteem. When their friends care for them, they feel good about themselves. They learn valuable life skills on how to behave with people, caring for others’ feelings and more.
If our children don’t have friends at school, they would find themselves lonely during free classes or break time. This could have disastrous effects on their minds.
Our kids might refuse to go to school because they have no friends or no one wants to befriend them.
- Ask them:
- Who they like hanging out with at school
- Who sits with them during recess
- Who do they like doing group activities with at school
Next, contact your child’s teacher and work with her/him to help your child feel comfortable. Remember, the teacher has a lot more influence in her class than you have with your child at home.
2. When your child realizes that he has you and his teacher to help him out, he’ll find it easier to come out of his bubble and be more confident in approaching his peers.
3. Let your child know that you are a safe haven for them.
Monster 4: The Opposite Gender
There are two extremes to this – one of being extremely comfortable with the opposite gender resulting in excessive and unrestricted mingling, while the other is of heavy restrictions on even looking at the other sex. Both extremes are an open road to disaster.
As parents, if we have a number of unexplained and baseless restrictions on our children, they tend to develop an extreme sense of consciousness around the opposite gender. In such a case, for them to be at school in close contact with the other sex can be an intimidating task. They would never feel comfortable around them, and would seek ways to avoid making their presence even known at school.
“Mom! I don’t want to go to school!”
Islam is all about moderation. We are a nation that’s been built to practice upon a middle ground, without being excessive or extreme.
Allah SWT says,
‘‘Thus, We have made you a justly balanced community that you will be witnesses over the people and the Messenger will be a witness over you.” [Surat Al-Baqarah 2:143]
When kids learn that rules in Islam are not to restrict them but to regulate their lives, they’ll have a better understanding of what is allowed and what’s not, and most importantly, why it’s not allowed.
Explain the boundaries set by Allah but more importantly, have discussions. Let your child know what’s okay and what’s not.
When they are taught the benefits of why our religion has certain boundaries in place, they will honor it rather than rebel against it In Sha Allah.
It all boils down to this in the end:
“Verily with hardship comes ease…” (Quran;Surah Ash Sharh: Ayah 5-6)
Hang in there, the best is just around the corner, In Sha Allah.
Let Muslim Kids TV help you out with making friends!
Watch Baba Ali talk about friends too!