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Looks Like an Angel, Acts Like the Devil

Questioner

K (32_female_UK)

Reply Date

Sep 21, 2018

Question

As-Salamu `Alaykum. I'm at my wit’s end with my son. He is the most beautiful little boy you have ever seen. He has the looks of an angel, but he acts like the devil! Anything that he can break, take apart, disfigure, or destroy is what he is into. I almost hate buying him new toys because they are broken almost instantly. He chews the tips off felt markers, peels wallpaper off the walls; he can't eat anything without smearing it all over himself, the table, and the walls. He's into everything. He is very smart and catches onto things right away: He can open child proof lids, start the truck, and scale any wall. What can I do? I've sent him to his room, I've spanked him, and I’ve made him stand in the corner. I've given him time-outs, taken things away, and kept him home from outings. I can't take this child anywhere without having to haul him back out to the car because he is causing such a disturbance. Any advice would be great.

Counselor

Answer


angel

In this counseling answer:

“Don’t always say “no” to your child as this will cause disappointment and despair. Your approach should be more “yes” than “no”; the ratio should be around 5 to 1.Suppose your son comes one day asking to paint on the wall. Calmly take him to his room, put up some flip chart papers on the wall and give him water colors (or any other colors) so that he can express himself and do what he wants without damaging the house. Try not to be over-protective when it comes to disposable materials and things that can be washed and cleaned.”


Wa ‘Alaykum As-Salam wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh, 

First, let me thank you for entrusting us with your problems. I ask Allah Most High to guide all of us to the straight path.

Just one remark: it was really nice describing your lovely son as an angel, but it is not advisable to describe his actions as the actions of a devil. This is purely because we are forbidden to compare our children’s behavior with the devil.

From your message, I can tell you that your son is a perfectly normal child; he is just fond of experimentation and is hyperactive, both of which can be attributed to some causes that we will explore and try to put some rationale to. We will then advise you what to do in each case.

Some parents (not implying that you are one of them) overreact to their children’s actions. When their children do something wrong, they jump to conclusions too fast and consequently punish their children by shouting or smacking. This could cause tension to build up within the children themselves and result in some aggressive behavior from the children’s side. Children may then deal with objects (including toys) in an abnormal way or become uncontrollable in their behavior. Parents need to adapt proportionally suited methods of dealing with their children, as the situation implies.


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For instance, if children embark upon a life-threatening action, then parents should be firm to prevent it from reoccurring; however, if the children’s actions cause a mess but do not affect their well-being, then a gentler approach may work better.

Don’t always say “no” to your child as this will cause disappointment and despair. Your approach should be more “yes” than “no”; the ratio should be around 5 to 1.

Suppose your son comes one day asking to paint on the wall. Calmly take him to his room, put up some flip chart papers on the wall and give him water colors (or any other colors) so that he can express himself and do what he wants without damaging the house. Try not to be over-protective when it comes to disposable materials and things that can be washed and cleaned.

The food that he smears himself and his surroundings with can itself be an indication of a lack of play time with creativity materials such as play dough, modeling clay, or a paintbrush and watercolors. You can dress him suitably with an apron and put some protective cloth or plastic on the ground. You can also make a deal with him so that if he behaves appropriately while eating, he then gets to play with creative materials (as above).

The abnormal behavior you describe in terms of destroying toys and so on may be a result of him disliking the type of toys he has. From your notes, I can tell that your son enjoys a high degree of intelligence for his age and thus may require special toys or toys for older children that he would respect and find a bit challenging—physically as well as mentally.

So, try to get him to choose his toys carefully (under your guidance). Suggest some toys, but the final decision should be his. If, after all, he still destroys the toy, then you should punish him by not buying him any new toys for a period of time that can be progressively increased at every subsequent event. You should also remind him that he is getting a chance to choose, and choice bears responsibility.

You also need to adopt (if you are not already doing so) a diet that is low on sweets, chocolates, and other material that could be responsible for his hyperactive actions.

Finally, I would like to remind you that change from one extreme to the norm takes time, so be patient and don’t expect the tactics you adopt will work straightaway the first time. I ask Allah Most High to give you success in your endeavors and reward you for the best of your deeds.

Salam

***

Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.

Read more:

How to Deal With a Hyperactive Child

How to Deal with My Hyperactive 6-Year-Old Son?

3-Year-Old Child: Verbal Diarrhea & Hyperactivity

 




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