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The Curiosity in Boys Play

Questioner

E (38-female-US)

Reply Date

Aug 18, 2018

Question

As salamu 'alaykum, This is a very sensitive matter and I expect a religious and a psychological approach in your kind reply. I've found a very odd and unlikely habit in my five year old son. We live in a foreign country where we have no close relatives. My husband, our son and I stay in an apartment, and we have family friends, most of whom are practicing Muslims. One of our friends' son- let's call him A is 8 years old and we visit them very often these days. We use to spend a lot of time together now-a-days as my husband and A's father go out together. Their apartment is big, and when A's father and I talked in a room, the kids play in another.Few days back, I noticed that A and my son make tents with bed sheets and play silently inside. I even felt like I heard A say "penis". I removed the bed sheet and told them to play with something else, thinking they are too small to do what I feared. After our next visit, my son said that A asked him to touch his private parts and my son did not agree, al hamdu Lillah - I could remain calm hearing this. Slowly, I asked him about it without blame - I said shaytan has approached both of you because you both hid in the tent.My son was convinced and told me that he'll tell A about this. A stopped doing these shameful things. A also has no chance to watch fahishah, as they to don't have a TV. But his cousins had visited him for a month stay, and returned last month. One of them was 12-13 years old and was a bit naughty. I suspect A got this habit from .Please help me to tackle this. My husband has no information on this matter. I'm pregnant and my delivery is due this week, we planned to leave our son with A's family, and I don't want to change it. Because then my husband will know the reason. I will insha 'Allah, talk with A's mother and tell her to make sure that they don't get a chance to do this again. Please advice both of us how to deal with both the children separately, as they differ in age and understanding. Please help to pull out this tendency from both of the kids. Kindly respond at the earliest, so that I can do something before I leave my son with them.

Counselor

Answer


boys

 In this counseling answer:

•Help them to both understand, yet at the same time, send them a clear message that such behavior is a very big NO, NO. The clarity of the message along with the understanding will, in sha ‘Allah, be sufficient in getting them to stop.

•As you have already done, do not allow them to be left alone in situations where such behaviors can easily take place. Make sure they are supervised and are not allowed to be left alone – at least for a while until you feel the threat of engaging in the behavior has passed.


As salamu `alaykum,

Dear sister, I understand your concern over this matter and applaud you for taking the steps you have so far. I think although there has clearly been some outside influence on your boy and his friend, possibly from the older boys, you are correct in taking the calm and patient approach.

We have to understand that young boys will have natural curiosity about their bodies and will do things even if they do not understand what they are doing. I think a combination of education and monitoring is a good approach, as you have already begun to do.

Often, situations like this will freak parents out, but we should try our best to stay calm and not get frantic. It is part of exploration and learning, in fact, and if we can see it that way then we can perhaps use the situation to teach our children about proper and improper behavior, by providing them an understanding as to what they are doing is not appropriate.


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It is always best to understand such situations as learning opportunities, rather than problems. I think it is also good that you plan to inform A’s mother before you leave your son with her, as it is always best to work together as a team to help protect and educate our children. Try to from a partnership with her and agree on a common approach to address this issue.

Maybe she has valuable information that you don’t and you can learn from her. Perhaps she is well aware of the influence of the older kids on the younger ones. Nevertheless, try to work together.

Education at a young age is a great preventive measure that can go a long way in building up kids’ immunity to problem behaviors later on. If we merely punish without providing any explanation or education, we risk merely peaking their curiosity to the point that eventually they will experiment on their own to find the answer to their questions. Of course, the whisperings of Shaytan as you mention play a big role in facilitating kids’ engagement in such activities, but it all starts with a natural curiosity to know and learn on their own.

Thus, help them to understand what they are doing and why it’s wrong now, so as to avoid major problems later on. Also, I suggest being direct about it with them. Do not take the subtle approach but make it crystal clear to them that what they are doing is wrong and why it is so.

Help them to both understand, yet at the same time, send them a clear message that such behavior is a very big NO, NO. The clarity of the message along with the understanding will, in sha ‘Allah, be sufficient in getting them to stop. Also, as you have already done, do not allow them to be left alone in situations where such behaviors can easily take place. Make sure they are supervised and are not allowed to be left alone – at least for a while until you feel the threat of engaging in the behavior has passed.

In sha ‘Allah with the parents’ help and support, the behavior will pass. Many of these things are merely phases that kids go through. At the same time, however, they cannot be taken lightly and parents must do what they can to both educate and discipline.


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About Dr. Abd. Lateef Krauss Abdullah

Dr. Abd. Lateef Krauss Abdullah is a Research Fellow at the Institute for Social Science Study’s Community Education and Youth Studies Laboratory, Universiti Putra Malaysia. He received his B.A. from the University of Delaware (U.S.), his M.S. from Columbia University (U.S.) and his PhD from the Institute for Community & Peace Studies (PEKKA), Universiti Putra Malaysia in 2005 in the field of Youth Studies. Abd. Lateef is an American who has been living in Malaysia since 2001. He is married and has 2 children.

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