How should I train my toddler in eating by himself?

Question: My child, who is two years old, insists on his independence in food. He does not accept for me to feed him. This causes him to dirty himself and his surroundings, and sometimes he scatters the food on the carpets where the colors of food cannot be removed from them. When I take the vessel of food away from him, he cries, resists, and refuses to eat at all. I do not know whether or not I should allow him to dirty everything. I am confused as to how to deal with him.

The answer: Dear sister, take life easy and adapt yourself to such matters! Do not trouble yourself and do not make your child angry! Let him feel his freedom because it is more important than his food. Let him build his personality on the principles of independence and self-confidence because these are the bases of his future. In a word, you should leave him free and not tire your nerves and his because you are in dire need of calm nerves to face the difficulties of life!

You have to put these advantages in a scale and dirty clothes, carpets, and other things in another scale and then see which of them you prefer.

There is no doubt that you will prefer the advantages of freedom, independence, and tranquility, and this is undoubtedly the right choice.

During meals, you can humor your child in any way that will make him cooperate. For example, after one, two, or three spoonfuls of food that he pours on himself, you can offer him the rest while playing with him by imitating the sound of a car, train, motorcycle, bird, or anything else.

I myself have been successful with my son “Muhammad Jawad” in this way. I would bring a spoonful of food close to his mouth and imitate the sound of the door when knocked. I would say, ‘Knock, Knock!’, and my son would reply, ‘Who is at the door?’ I would say, ‘Please open! I am the bread and egg.’ My son would then say while opening his mouth, ‘Come in please!’ Then I would put the food into his mouth.

In this way, one should play with his child and behave like him as the Prophet (S) has recommended us to do in his educational traditions.

It is a stage that will come to an end when the child grows older and becomes more reasonable while the concepts of freedom, independence, self-confidence, respect, love, and kindness are deeply rooted inside him, whereas the clothes and carpets that became dirty can be cleaned, and even if they cannot be cleaned, they have no great value when compared to the essential concepts of building the future personality of the child.

Indeed, if parents care for these bases of building their children’s personalities, they will produce wonderful fruits by them. However, most people think just of the present and ignore the distant future. For their temporary comfort, they destroy the real ease for themselves and for their children who are tomorrow’s adults.


What is the cause of children being disrespectful and disobedient?

Question: Why do our children stand still in their places and disobey us when we ask them for something? What is the cause of their mutiny, obdurateness, and disobedience?

The answer: You should not think that the cause of this phenomenon is only one cause. In fact, there are many causes. For example:

1. The child may not know the purpose of the thing requested from him. Here, parents can show him the purpose and instruct him in a language that he can understand.

2. He may think that the thing requested is not important, and so the importance of the thing should be declared to him.

3. He may not know how to carry out the thing requested, and here he can be taught the way.

4. He may not know which is of greater priority when two things are requested from him. Here, parents should explain to him what his priorities are.

5. He may think that he shall not be punished when he rebels and shall not be rewarded when he obeys. Here, parents should make him understand that there is a suitable punishment and reward.

6. He may not be able to carry out the thing requested from him. Here, parents should not burden him with what he cannot do.

7. The means required to carry out the things requested from him may not be available to him.


My son is almost an adult and I worry about him getting into sinful behaviors such as relations with girls; what should I do?

Question: My son is about to be an adult. I fear for him that perhaps he shall be corrupted, sinful, or shall have suspicious relations with girls. Would you please show me the successful manner of dealing with him before such a calamity will afflict him and me?

The answer: You should know, first, that a young man always looks for whatever makes him delighted, joyful, and pleased. Some of the things that cause joy and pleasure are lawful and some are unlawful. It is your duty to show him which of them are lawful and which are not. But, if you prevent him from his ambition, you will lead him to either suppression and psychological complexes or to practicing sins secretly with complexes as well. Then, you will involve him and yourself in the calamity from which you want to escape.

The only way of a sound education, in which the youth are guided to a happy moral and material life, is to let one live naturally without depriving him of the good blessings Allah has given to His people.

Once, I admired one believer brother who lived in a Western country for saying to his adult son in my presence, ‘My son, keep yourself safe and beware not to slip into the traps of the western girls!’

His son replied frankly, ‘They are very beautiful, and they themselves follow me. What shall I do if I cannot be patient?’

The father said, ‘Then, you can practice temporary marriage legally, but do not commit sin!’

The youth, in the age of adulthood and some years after that, must face the facts of life. If you want to protect your son, you should understand the new facts of life nowadays and make him understand them with love, kindness, and leniency but not violence or severity.

Have you ever experienced for yourself when you visit a country for the first time? What would you do in the first days where you know nothing about its places, streets, people, or laws? Would you not be cautious and, at the same time, be eager to know everything until you actually did learn some things and then you could set out confidently? There is no doubt that you would thank whoever helped you and showed you the ways there truthfully and respectfully. Wouldn’t you?

Your young son lives in the same case when he opens his eyes to face the new facts of adulthood and the period after it. He looks for whoever can help him but with kindness, love, truthfulness, and respect. I am sure that he will thank you sincerely if you are that loving and merciful friend who will help and guide him to pass the way of adolescence. You may remember when you yourself were in this stage of life!


Please explain about the harms of dealing with children severely and beating them.

Question: My husband is quick-tempered. He does not tolerate the noises and mistakes of our children; therefore, he does not treat them but with beating and severe punishments. He is like a military officer, our house is like a camp, and our children are like powerless soldiers. As for me, I am worried about the future of our unlucky family. I want you to write to these fathers about the harms of severity and beating the children that they may decide to live quietly and comfortably. What is the value of a life in such tension?

The answer: One of the fathers’ problems is that they have not learned their religion concerning education and the rights of the family. They think they possess the necks of their wives and the lives of their children. Children are deposits that Allah has entrusted parents with, and women are humans having rights and duties just as men have.

The state of this father, as an example, is very dangerous, and he will be blamed and punished severely for it on the Day of Resurrection. The least danger of this state is that the children who graduate from this “military camp,” will be quarrelsome, severe, and violent against people and even against their wives and children. The guilt of this is the father’s, and he will receive the curses of people as well.

Beating is one of the widespread wrongs of education. Islam has prohibited beating except in some exceptional cases. Beating should be utilized for discipline only and within the following guidelines:

1. A child should not be insulted and blamed; rather it is his wrongdoing that is to be criticized.

2. Parents should be certain of whether or not their child deserves punishment, according to whether or not the wrong was committed intentionally.

3. Before beating, parents should make their child understand the harms of his wrongdoing.

4. Parents should choose a suitable place, suitable quantity, and suitable means for punishment.

5. Before being punished, the child should know the reason for his punishment.

6. After punishing the child, parents should deal with him as normal, with love and mercy.

7. Punishment should be carried out secretly and not in the presence of others, and this will be more fruitful and positive.

Whenever my child commits a mistake, I beat him but this method is not working, what should I do?

Question: Whenever my child commits a mistake, I beat him a lot, but he still repeats his mistake obstinately though he suffers the bitter pain of beating and cries. I then punish him more severely than before, and he intentionally commits the mistake again and with more obstinacy, all the while looking at me as if to let me know that he does it intentionally. I do not know how to deal with him! Sometimes I fear that I will not be able to control my nerves when I beat him and I may cause him a permanent handicap in his body, and this will cause me great remorse besides the punishment of my Lord. Would you please tell me what I should do with him and with myself?

The answer: By beating him, you implant the mistakes in him more deeply. Extra beating and punishing do not lead the child to aught but greater obdurateness or physical hindrances and psychological complexes because the child, in return for being beaten and insulted, will defend his dignity and personality with all the physical and mental powers he has. His obduracy will continue until all his powers run out.

Do you want this? Certainly not! However, if you do not control your nerves, you may realize that which you fear, and then regret shall neither restore your child’s soundness nor inspire the soul in him again. Therefore, you should not destroy your child’s personality, dignity, and powers. The mistake he commits, whatever it may be, is less harmful than the harms you cause him. A mistake may disappear by advices or by the passing of time, but the physical and mental damage cannot be treated by advices or by the passing of time.

Besides, severe beating is not lawful in the Islamic Sharia. You have to keep this legal matter and the aforementioned fact in mind to give up your wrong manner of dealing with your child. You can follow another manner in educating him that is closer to the Sharia, reason, and peace of mind.

I remember a story of a young man who beat his father until he was about to die at his hands. One day I asked my father, ‘Why does he do so to his father?’ My father said, ‘He is just reaping what he sowed! He used to always beat his son when he was a child and did not think that some day things would change, that he would be weak and his son would grow stronger and avenge himself on his father in the light of the scenes he had kept in mind since childhood.’

You should give up angriness, severity, and beating. You should adopt the qualities of the true believers as Imam Ali (a.s.) has said, ‘The believers are easy and lenient’.

Dear brother, I would ask you to write down this saying (of Imam Ali) and hang it on every wall of your house so you can remember it whenever you become angry. I would also ask all those who disagree with others to hang this holy tradition before their eyes lest they follow the steps of the Satan when they are in disagreement.


How can I solve my child’s habit of lying?

Question: My child has grown accustomed to lying. He fabricates news as if they are true. Would you please give me a solution to save him from this vice?

The answer: Lying has some reasons. One who lies aims for one of the following:

1. To harm or take revenge on some persons whom he hates or with whom he is angry

2. To escape punishment

3. To show off

There is a kind of lying resulting from imagination, which is the most usual among children. The reason behind lying is sometimes because of TV and bad films, sometimes because of the strained atmosphere in the family, and other times because of the influence of friends who practice lying.

To treat this problem first you have to remove its causes and then teach the child the advantages of being truthful and the disadvantages of lying. In all of this, you should speak with your child respectfully and leniently. You may read some books of ethics about the subject and then mention it to him through stories and attractive statements. You should beware of being severe to him or beating him because this will lead him to be obstinate and obdurate for he will then try to prove that he has a personality that cannot be defeated by beating.

To treat this problem you yourself have to be truthful to him and not let him find any kind of lying in you at all. If you lie and he discovers that, you should either apologize to him or explain the reasons that led you to lie in a persuasive manner.


I have wicked sons who cause problems for neighbors and passers-by; what can I do as their father?

Question: My sons are wicked. Whenever they go out in the street, they cause troubles to the neighbors and passers-by. Would you please instruct me with how to deal with them? I have been ashamed of myself for being their father.

The answer: These phenomena often arise due to previous reasons and previous neglect in educating the children. Now, it is too difficult for the children to change in a short time. However, following these points can help you to decrease the problem:

1. You should talk to them about the religious and worldly rights of people, relate to them some stories, and bring them some social films and cassettes of religious lectures about the subject.

2. You should tell them that evil will return to its doer someday, and surely Allah will punish the wrongdoer.

3. You can ask some notable persons to advise them in a wise way. They may make friends with them gradually through presents, invitations, and picnics to guide them little by little.

4. You have to apologize to whosoever your children may have harmed and pray to Allah to forgive you for being negligent in educating your children.

5. You may arrange with some good boys in your neighborhood to befriend your children and contact them most of the time.


I feel my teenaged son is argumentative; what do I do?

Question: My son, who is fourteen years old, is too opinionated. He argues over every subject I discuss with him to the extent that sometimes I feel I dislike him, whereas he was not like this before.

The answer: This state is one of the results of adolescence and it will continue in your son until the age of eighteen or after that. You should tolerate him in this period. When you order him to do something or forbid him from something you have to justify your ordering or forbidding with logical reasons. You should not expect him to respond to you immediately. You should leave him free if he is not somehow harming himself or destroying his future. You should give him enough time to ponder over your advices.

In this way, you will win him over in the long range. When he becomes an adult, he will appreciate your wise manner of treating him during his adolescence. Your advices and instructions to him will remain as good lessons in his life with which he can treat his own children correctly in the future.


How do I deal with my teenager having unIslamic behaviors and interests?

Question: My fourteen-year-old son likes listening to songs, watching foreign films, and imitating western fashions. Besides, he is lazy in performing his religious obligations. How should I deal with him?

The answer: Man often, especially in the transitional period from childhood to youth, becomes involved in some slips and sins. Perhaps he does not intend to commit them willingly, but because of the Satan’s incitement, he goes towards those prohibited things just for a change, out of curiosity, or as a new experiment.

If you follow the three steps mentioned below, you will be successful in guiding your son and rescuing him from the swamp of sins; otherwise, you will make him continue his sins if you follow the wrong manner of dealing with him.

To behave wisely, you should tolerate your son’s mistakes in this stage of his life because they will come to an end. You should remember that Allah is merciful to His people and He forgives their sins.

Here are the three steps:

First, you have to make friends with him and show him your love and kindness. You can go out with him to buy for him what he needs of clothes and other things. Always smile at him, and consult with him on some affairs with which you entrust him. Continue doing this until you become certain that he trusts you and begins obeying you sincerely.

Second, you have to prepare for him some alternatives, such as religious oratorios instead of songs and Islamic films instead of foreign films. Talk to him about the harms of imitating westerners. Tell him that nowadays many western people have begun imitating Islamic conducts because they find in them gravity, purity, and high morals.

Third, you have to take him with you to the mosque, to religious meetings, and to the meetings of the Ulama’. You have to acquaint him with good youth so he can befriend them.


How can I make my children love reading so that books and knowledge can be an important part of their interests in life?

Question: How can I make my children love reading so that books and knowledge can be an important part of their interests in life?

The answer: First, you should make your children find this interest in you. It means that you should read books before them, bring good books home with you, care for new cultural publications such as religious and scientific books or magazines, and let them notice this clearly in you.

Second, you should tell your children about what you have read and talk to them about the facts, wonders, and attractive tales you have read.

Third, when you reply to their questions, you may refer to books to obtain the answers to their questions, and, at the same time, tell them that they can learn many things by referring to books.

Fourth, you can take your children to the library to see scenes of great volumes in order so that books can take roots in their minds. At the same time, you can talk to them about the great advantages of those books and their roles in achieving the happiness of man and society, and how the authors have strived day and night to present those books to their readers to illuminate their ways towards goodness and happiness.

Fifth, when your children finish reading a book, you can ask them to tell you what they have understood from that book, and you may encourage them by offering them some gifts.

This is if you yourself are interested in reading; otherwise, you can talk to them about the advantages of reading books and show them that you are very sorry because, for certain reasons, you have had no opportunity to read books and you do not want your children to be sorry like yourself in the future.