LIFE AND FAMILY: Teaching Our children Manners: When is the Right Time to Start?

The application of the word manners may differ from one person to the other especially, in this case parents. Some parents feel that it is enough for their children to always say thank you whenever they are given anything or done a favour. To them it is also in order for the child to be able to apologize whenever he or she has done something wrong. Asides these, any other thing is alright but they do not feel the need to impress this on the children. Training a child involves a lot of issues. It goes beyond teaching them to wash their plates and clothes, keeping their rooms clean and so on. We cannot down-play the importance of imparting good social manners on our children.

Without doubt, the bulk of the work lies with the parents, still everyone in the society has a role to play. Sadly, these days however, most people are very careful in correcting other peoples children lest they get insulted by the parents. Like our people say, "the permission granted by a parent to others to beat or train his/her child may not really be sincere."

As a child, I learnt that training a child is a communal duty and as such involves all responsible members of the community. In those days, I saw nothing wrong in giving or collecting things with my left hand because I was left handed. I learnt the hard way when one day I went to buy Samcoat a shop and the woman who attended to me told me that it was very rude to use the left hand. At the time, I felt that the woman just did not like my face but years later, I came to appreciate her action. I often find it very irritating when I visit people and other adults staying with them do not deem it fit to excuse us (this does not include the case of visiting a member of the opposite gender). Some people even go to the extent of contributing to conversations to which they have not been invited! I guess it all boils down to training. I remember learning as a kid to always leave the sitting room whenever guests were around. In some cases these days, the children not only sit and listen to adults conversations but their eyes are also trained on whatever you are entertained with from the table to your mouth! One very important aspect in which a lot of parents seem to have fallen asleep is that of greeting. A lot of children these days do not know that they should greet elders. Hold it! I do not mean that they should always kneel down whenever they see elders, I am simply saying that a polite Salam Alaikum, Good day and so on shows that a child has good training. A neighbour of mine has children within the five to fourteen year age range. I used to find it very surprising that these children never for once greeted me or anyone else for that matter. Their parents did not seem to see anything wrong with this until they received an elderly visitor and as usual, the children kept mum. This woman immediately asked "Can't you greet?" Their mother was very embarrassed and tried to correct them but it was too late to correct the impression the old lady had of them. So, when is the right time to start training ones child?

Opinion on this varies. Some people believe that a child should be trained from the moment he/she starts crawling and may even commence punishment from this period. These are the ones who spank an eight-month old baby for crawling in the kitchen or any other place where he has been told not to go to. They also spank him for screaming or crying continuously. They would also forcefully try to stop him from sucking his finger or lip. Let's ask them, "How old is this child that we are talking about and what does he know? At that age, children cannot be held responsible for their actions. They cannot even remember whatever they do or are told. Any punishment meted out to them would just amount to maltreating them. Some parents don't necessarily set a particular time for training. They just leave the child to pick up whatever he can along the way. Some are too busy to attend to their children and leave this task to domestic helps and strangers. The sad truth is that such children end up displaying embarrassing behaviour in public, thereby disgracing their parents.

The correct thing to do is to start training the child from when he can understand you in whatever little way. A lot of a child's training also comes from watching the adults around him. A child whose parents are very nasty and never greet cannot be expected to behave better if they are his role models. As soon as they can understand, children should also be told the reason why they should or should not do certain things. This will help them to abide by certain rules. They should also be rewarded from time to time for displaying good behavior especially in public. Parents should also not allow excess, unnecessary or exaggerated compassion to cloud their sense of judgment and duty to their children. The ultimate concern should be for the future of these children. In conclusion, moderation should be applied in training our children. We should not plant unnecessary fear in their hearts. At the same time, we should carry out our duties to them with the fear of Allaah in our hearts and remember that if they see us as being too strict or wicked today, they will thank us in future for setting their feet in the right direction.

This article was culled from the publications of Deen Communication Limited

dawahnigeria admin
dawah to the people