As-Salamu ‘Alaykum dear sister,
Considering that you are, in fact, referring to more than one child, the implications to this common problem amongst your friends indicate lifestyle as the source of the problem.
There are many reasons why a child behaves in the manner you have described.
All too often, parents assume that a young child is happiest when they eat snacks, fast foods, sweets, and fizzy drinks.
In fact, a child is probably happy, but there is a price to pay. The first price, is that a child becomes demanding of these things that a parent gives into to “keep them happy” or quiet! So what this teaches a child is that they can have what they want, except it becomes a habit as a means of attention seeking, when maybe what they really want is some quality time with mom or/and dad.
The second price paid is on the children themselves. The U.S-based Center for Science in the Public Interest carried out a study looking at “Diet and Attention Deficit/Hyperactive Disorder”. They found that:
* School aged boys suffer with Attention Deficit/Hyperactive Disorder, ADHD or Hyperkinesis, more than girls
* Children often outgrow ADHD, but it can carry on into adulthood, leading to a lot of other problems
* Such children are not welcome in the homes of others, or in teams or groups Artificial colorings and flavorings can trigger ADHD, as well as certain natural colorings like salicylates (found in apricots, berries, tomatoes almonds, cloves, coffee, pickles, cucumber, currants grapes, raisins, oranges, nectarines, peppers, plums and tea). Tartrazine and benzoic acid (food preservative) found in milk, wheat, oranges, eggs, chocolates and others can cause irritability, sleeplessness, and restlessness.
Signs – of inattention include:
* Easily distracted by irrelevant sights and sounds
* Failing to pay attention to details and making careless mistakes
* Rarely follows instructions carefully or to completion
* Loses or forgets things
* Avoids tasks that requires mental effort
Signs – of hyperactivity and Impulsiveness includes:
* Restless and fidgety
* Physically active in situations that require quiet
* Behave as if driven by a motor
* Difficulty waiting ones turn
All of the above to constitute signs of ADHD must be observed before the age of 7 and observable over a period of 6 months. If any of the signs mentioned above are observable over the period of time stated, then it is wise to put the children on an elimination diet.
An elimination diet helps to identify the food that is the trigger in ADHD which differs from child to child, according to what they are allergic to. To know what they are allergic to, remove all the processed foods for a whole month and introduce one food one by one back into the diet to see what triggers the behavior.
Again, do the same with citrus fruits, meats, dairy products; obviously not all at once or you might have one really upset child on ones hands. Keeping a notebook will help to keep track on the changes and what was done when. Once the food or foods are identified, then to help support the child to resist temptation, the family as a whole should also avoid that food.
By the way, refined sugars in soft drinks and foodstuffs can also cause the problem and lead to changes in motor activity and attentiveness. All in all, it means eating of the good things that Allah (SWT) provided for us by applying a low additive or organic diet with a home cooked food is the best policy.
Sometimes, the parents are so busy with work and socializing that sleep becomes something that one fits in after everything else has been attended to. It is not too uncommon to find parents taking their children everywhere, believing that the child can sleep anywhere! This is probably true, but how often that sleep becomes disturbed because the parent is ready to go or because of some noisy activity is too frequent to be of benefit to the child. Sleep deprivation can lead to so many problems as adults, so think what effect it can have on the children. Problems lead to:
* Further difficulty in sleeping
* Sleep walking
* Problems breathing, snoring
* Bad mood swings
Children are forced into the schedules of their parents, and they end up feeling powerless, and with low self-esteem. To help them sleep well, parents need to consider their children with needs of their own and not as an additional factor to juggle in their day. Also, to aid good sleep try to:
Eating Habits After Late Afternoon
* Establish a routine
* No drinks or meals containing caffeine (e.g. soft/fizzy drinks)
* Keep meals simple and not difficult to digest
* Cut back on protein and refined sugars
* Avoid excessive low calorie diets
* Make the last meal at least two hours before bedtime
* Establish a routine
* Reduce anything that over-stimulates the mind (T.V, music, artificial lights, work/study, physical exercise)
* A calm atmosphere
* For little ones an anasheed/lullaby
* For those able to understand a story
* Just talking to air out any gremlins that might have occurred during the day
* Comfortable bed clothing
Some parents as children did not get much attention from their parents; therefore they find it difficult to give attention, because they have not learnt the skills of bonding. It is impossible to raise a child without spending time with him/her. It is important to a child’s self-esteem that they receive the kind of attention that allows for their feelings, their thoughts, and for understanding, as well as fun.
A child deprived of these aspects will react in many ways, and sometimes those ways will be expressed outwardly to others, and sometimes inwardly, but both ways are negative, and turned inwardly is more dangerous, because then the parents are not attentive enough to be aware that something is wrong.
By the way, the best place for a young child is outdoors where they can get lots of fresh air, feel physically rejuvenated, and explore their natural environment which nurtures an enquiring mind and instills balance. It is only then when they are not so much in need of direct attention from their parents.
All children need to have limits set, but those limits must be reasonable. Without those limits a child will keep trying to “push that button” to see how far they can go and get away with it. If a child is to be punished, they should only be punished because they understand what they are being punished for, and the best punishment is not allowing them a treat or something that they want.
When your child does not accept “No” for an answer:
* Distraction is the best policy
* Do not lose your temper
* Do not bribe with sweets – your child will learn deception and manipulation
* Do not give in – otherwise your child will become more demanding.
* Ignore all the fuss – your child is playing on the attention she can get
A three-year old child is:
* Learning about their physical capabilities
* Affectionate, especially towards their parents
* Jealous (i.e. jealous of the mother if they are a girl, and jealous of the father if they are a boy but will begin role modeling according to gender.
* Fearful of imaginary things, the dark, etc
* Enjoying being a part of a group
* In need of social interaction with peers Mercy and compassion are essential components of building a Muslim society, and it starts with how we raise our child, who, after all, are the future. When we only expect obedience, we treat our children as extensions of ourselves to do our bidding, and to be who we want them to be.
By showing respect to our children, and with that the compassion of mercy, we develop emotional ties which all humans need regardless of age, and in so doing we establish a loving, caring relationship that is reciprocated. In this way, the child learns, love, learns compassion, learns to give and learns to listen, because we too listen to them.
Prophet Muhammad said: “He who does not respect our elder, or is not merciful to the young, or does not feel indebted to the scholars, is not of my Nation” (Abu Dawud, # 4921, and At-Tirmidhi, #1925) Allah knows best.