Salam Aleikom. Islamically, what shall I do with my 5 year old boy when he is rebellious? Should I always try explaining to him why he needs to do this or that, seeking a mutual agreement or shall I just tell him do this because I am your mother and I said so. I know the first option would be more ideal, but what if he does not want to understand and repeats the same bad act over and over? Or in the supermarket when I say no we cannot buy this, he becomes hysterical. I cannot beg him all the time to please understand, please do this. He oftentimes becomes cheeky. I believe in this case a little spanking is necessary. What od you think?
As salamu alaykum sister,
This is a very difficult age with children testing limits and and being egocentric. Often times parents see a rather well behaved child turn into a little rebel at this age as the child is exposed to more and more stimuli that catches his attention. As his focus is primarily on himself, it often turns into a battle between what your child wants and what is expected by you. At this age, children are in the “pre-operational” stage according to Piaget, a well known child psychologist.. According to Piaget (1), “At this stage, kids learn through pretend play but still struggle with logic and taking the point of view of other people. They also often struggle with understanding the idea of constancy”. As stated, at this age children struggle with logic. For instance, if you say “no you cannot have that cookie at the supermarket, you already ate 3”, he does not see the logic in that answer and only wants what he desires. He also is unable to understand your point of view, thus “begging” or “mutual agreements” will not work as he is not cognitively at that level of understanding quite yet.
While we try to explain our reasoning to our children in hopes they will understand and abide by our rules and wishes, often it is more simple than that. In fact is can be as simple as structure and consistency. I would kindly suggest dear sister that you set limits by stating in simple terms what it is that you expect from him. For instance, if he wants an item from the store tell him no and leave it at that. If he gets upset tell him that unless he calms down you will leave. This may be hard especially if your husband does not do the shopping with you but after a few times of being escorted out of the store to calm down, he will insha’Allah begin to associate his negative behavior with unpleasant results. I remember I had that problem with my daughter when she was about his age. Every time we went to a store I dreaded it. She would carry on like an out of control child! I then asked my husband to step outside with her every time she acted up and after a few times of him doing this, she started to change her behavior for the positive as she really did like shopping.
This strategy would apply to other situations as well. If he has a playmate over and begins to act out, remove him from the situation until he can regain control. While he may seem like a little rebel sister, he is merely testing his limits and has learned that his rebellious behavior either gets him what he wants or it gives him a lot of attention from you by your explaining, reasoning and begging. Insha’allah when you do not feed into the negative behavior and respond with a consequence he will begin to change.
I would not recommend spanking him as it will not teach him responsibility for his actions. However if you start replying in simple terms, remove him from situations wherein he is acting out it will insha’Allah show him that you are in control not him, and that there will be unpleasant consequences when he acts out. This will be a learning experience for both him and you. It will take patience and consistency on your part sister but insha’allah he will begin to restructure his behavior soon. Your not the first parent to have this issue nor will you be the last! We wish you the best.