Tuesday, May 7, 2013


Invest in the younger years...

When we think of the word Investment, we automatically think of an eventual reward, or return in the future. We can invest in so many things today, the stock market, real estate, businesses etc...
We so rarely associate the word investment with our precious children. Even though the two terms should be inseparable. They should go hand in hand when teaching, when disciplining, when loving, and even during play.
Our children are our hope for a better tomorrow. We hope for productive, respectful, loving and stable individuals. To even hope for these qualities we as parents need to invest in our children from day one, from birth!

Firstly I would like to state that this article is solely based on my personal opinion . I myslf have two very young children and though my children are quite small, I have read enough and seen through others parenting techniques what seems to work. When I say seems to work, I mean observing the way young children are brought up, and how they become or turn out in later years. I have also drawn on my own upbringing, to formulate my opinions and views.

Here are some easy ways to invest in our children. Making a significant contribution to create a stable, confident and loving adult.

-Live in the moment. Small children cannot really think in terms of later or tomorrow. We can see this as we observe their limited levels of patience. So live today and now with them. Make your to do lists, and plan away but if you are spending quality time with your child, then spend QUALITY TIME  with them! Make them the focus of your attention during that precious time.

-Make them feel loved and wanted! A wise woman once asked, "when your child walks into the room, does your face light up?" I truly love this, because children are trully intuitive and they can often tell how we are feeling just by looking at our faces. So not only should we make them feel loved and wanted with our words but just a look and a smile can show them just how much we value and love them. We can do this when they get home from an outing, when they wake up in the morning or from an afternoon nap whenever. Just drop everything for a minute and look at them, smile and let them see your face light up!

-Check your emotions. Stay in control and act rationally. This one can sometimes be hard to do, but it is so important. What you project, they will mimic. Therefor if you feel you are getting angry and are on your last nerve, for the sake of the child take a deeeep breath and either take yourself away from the situation or put him or her in a much needed time out.I believe that violence creates violent behaviors. Just like excessive screaming, shows the child that there is no other way to behave when we are angry. Both of these behaviors generates FEAR. While I agree that when a child misbehaves he should be fearful of the consequences of his actions, he should not be taught that the only way to make others listen to us is to instill fear in them.

-Regroup and care for yourself! This point goes hand in hand with my last point. We cannot expect to check our emotions and behave rationally if we are stressed, overworked, or hardly have a moment to breath. What works for me , is exercise (even if it is for 5 mins), Yoga is a great stress buster. Take a nice long long shower or bath. Read a great book or even a page of a great book. For those who pray, nothing heals the heart more than a little spiritual time out. Some enjoy baking. I know for myself, that moment when daddy gets home from work and he just takes over and cares for the kids, I withdraw to my own space. That space could be the kitchen, caring for my plants, 30 mins on my exerciser  Just 30 mins, and believe me it makes all the difference in the world.

-Keep your word! I think this one is self explanatory. Kids may be young and inexperienced, but they register everything! Teach them young that our word means everything. When we promise something we should always keep our promise! Sometimes as parents to get what we want from our child we will try to negotiate with him. For example; "go take your nap and when you wake up there will be a surprise waiting for you, or I have to go to work but as soon as I come home we will play outside together. These promises may help us to get what we want but we sometimes neglect to hold up our end of the bargain. This teaches the child that its OK to not keep our word. Believe me I am guilty of doing this from time to time, but I am making every effort to stop this bad habit.

-Give them options. Help build their decision making skills. Instead of saying no too often (believe me I have been there) try to give them a choice as often as possible. 'So you don't want to wear the red shirt, fine you can wear the red or the blue' so which one is it? Just be careful, I recently made accessible drawers for my 3 year old, so that he can hand pick his tops, pants and under garments etc....I wanted him to be a little more independent....well suffice to say, his daddy wasn't too pleased with the whole setup, the day he went on vacation alone with my son. When it was cold outside, my son picked out inappropriate clothes and vice versa. When my hubby tried to correct him, my son took tantrums and wouldn't give in. So These are times when they need to understand that while they can have choices, you still get the last word when it comes to their ultimate well being.

-Talk and explain things! This is a tried and true method of teaching. Just no won't cut it with kids. Not to say that my son 100% listens when I do explain why i'm saying NO to something but when he has calmed down he will repeat what I have taught him (sometimes to his dad) . For example, the other day I was telling him that he can't have ice cream before he eats his dinner. When he was out with his dad at the mall, his dad bought him an ice cream and my son automatically said," Ice cream only after I eat, mommy said that!". I was just so proud when I heard that. Just when we think that they are not listening.....they are registering every single word!.

-Invest in their education from a very young age. I don't mean spend a lot of money. But if you do spend, then spend wisely. I invested in the "Good Behavior" book series and have am so very thankful that I did. Good morals and values need to be taught very early on. What better way to teach this than with a bright and colorful story book? My son has loved these books so much that he has memorized a couple of them by heart and applies the principles in everyday life. Another book that I came across was; "Slow and steady, get me ready" a book for children from birth to age 5. One skill that my little one is still trying to grasp is Sharing but we are getting there sowly. I also love flashcards, Large laminated cards! Posters hung up around the children's play area. Children are very visual and the posters are a really great learning tool. Just make sure you put them as low as possible. At their eye level is just right. One other thing that I have found extraordinary is SIGN LANGUAGE. I started a little late with my son, but even though he can talk now, he also does the signs and enjoys learning new ones daily. I have started earlier with my daughter who is only 14 months old and she speaks to me fluently in sign and has very little meltdowns because she is not being understood. All I can say, is never think that your child is too young to learn, they are amazingly intelligent beings, so much so that science has proven that they have the ability to learn SEVEN different languages during childhood! Now that's truly incredible. And if you are religious then, teach them at a very young age about God! Simple principles, so that they will have a sturdy foundation for later years.

-DO NOT let others educate your children in a way that opposes your way of educating! For all those stay at home moms or dads out there, well this point may not apply to you. For everyone else, some daycare's may have a different way of educating or disciplining your child. All I can say is, do your research and try to be as sure as possible about where your child will be spending most of their time. Talk to the daycare workers and learn about their methods etc.... Then again I am a stay at home mom and I am always on guard when I am with in laws or my own family to be sure that what they are teaching, coincides with what I am teaching. It could be anything from, too much candy to bed time rituals, to being disrespectful to elders etc....sometimes in laws will let things slide, which is ok in some occasions but when you try to instill certain concepts into your children it should be evident to all those around you, what those concepts are and how important they are to your child's upbringing. This is a non negotiable point to me anyway. I mean what is the use of all the effort and care we put into our child's education and then have someone come along who will undo all that (non intentionally of course) ?

-Mind your TV watching, and what you are watching while your child is present. This is a very important point. While I have been guilty in the past of how much screen time my son sometimes gets. Albeit he has always watched educational TV but still, I have now tried to cut down on the quantity even if the quality was there. I have read no more than about an hour a day of TV for a child of 3 years old. Which I agree with and try to apply as much as possible. But I am very strict about what others watch while my child is around. These days we practically have to hide their eyes during TV commercials, its horrible! I do not allow any inappropriate shows while my child is roaming about. His father is aware of this. But there are times when hes just watching the news and I need to remind him that whats on screen is inappropriate and then drag my son away to concentrate on something else. Someone once said that what we are able to comprehend as adults, has very little to do with what a child can wrap his little mind around. I will give an example. I once let my child watch a comedy about a little crawling baby lost in New York....there were some men chasing after him and he was crawling between street cars etc, and while he never got hurt the so called BAD GUYS did....Well to us this would be funny (even though explaining it being a mom I kind of find it frightening lol) Well my little son, was traumatized and asked me for days if the baby was ok and where was his Mommy. He even had tears in his eyes. This was only from watching 5 mins while I was occupied doing something else. Children are very impressionable so just mind what they watch at all times. My dad use to let us watch the goriest of horror movies when we were young and to this day, I am still a little scared of the dark and monsters in the closet  .... A little funny, but I am sure you understood my point.

-Careful how you label them, because they will become those labels. This is a truly sad but true fact! I have witnessed first hand someone being called a black sheep and thief very young on, and then becoming that thief. Of course he was very brave and good hearted and was able to undo that label and become the man that he was always meant to be. But it took him many many years of determination. I have witnessed young ones being called worthless, and later those same little ones having very little self worth. So while I am not generalizing everyone,  the old expression we reap what we sow, is so true when it comes to children.
They will become what we call them. So why not give them the best possible start in life??

-Like or dislike behavior, not the child! If your child misbehaves always make him or her know that his behavior is unacceptable, that you don't like the way he is behaving. Do not say things like he is mean, or he is bad etc....Instead always refer to his behavior. He doesn't want to share, It is not nice when we don't share. He takes a tantrum, Mommy doesn't like it when you act this way. Again this has worked for me thus far. It may not work for everyone but it works for my family. Also one other point HIGHLIGHT THE GOOD BEHAVIOR and correct the bad. Make a big thing about the good that your child does.

-Let them help you. Children love to help and do grown up things. Sure it may take you a little longer to empty the dishwasher or plant a flower or make the bed, vacuum the floor. But these are life skills that you are teaching and creating self worth for your child. And just remember one day, your child may be too busy to spend time with you so take advantage of every single moment TODAY!. I personally love the Montessori method of teaching. Not that I follow it 100% but i take what I believe to be useful and leave the rest. Whatever works use it!

-Set limits, children need limits and they actually like limits. I am not here to tell you how to discipline your children, some things may work in one house while others work in another. I personally like time outs and not giving in to a crying child. No is No. I will however pick my battle's, I believe that some things are just not worth the fight. But that could change as time goes on. Children will always try to press our buttons, and try to cross the line. I just think that they should understand what that line is to begin with and then just take it from there. With limits comes respect!

I said to my dear brother just the other day.....I told him about a wise quote that I once heard, When we stop trying to be the PERFECT mother or father we can actually become a good parent. And I think that is what we all universally want!

We may not be able to prepare the future for our children, 
But we can prepare our children for the future. ( Franklin Delano Roosevelt).

I would like to thank my brother Richard for inspiring me to write this blog. Hours of long talks and heartfelt moments helped me realize a lot about myself as a parent and encouraged me to share my ideas with all of you. I hope it is beneficial, your feedback is welcome and if you liked this blog go ahead and share it with others.

I would also like to dedicate this to the amazing children in my life! My dear nieces and nephew and my son and daughter. They are all truly remarkable individuals! I am so blessed to have them all in my life!

Khadija Lynn

UPDATE; I found a truly amazing parenting resource recently. I am literally head over heels for it. I have learned so much and have applied many of the principles in my home. This is a resource particularly for Muslim Parents however I sincerely believe that every parent regardless of their religion can benefit from this course. Please visit OUTSTANDING MUSLIM PARENTS.COM there is free advice available. Just enter your email address. You will not regret it. This is my go to place for parenting advice. I will be writing a review on this blog soon Insha Allah (God willing).


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