July 23, 2008

Ask Maria: Hitting your kids?

Filed under: Blogroll — mariahussain @ 8:22 pm

Q: What does islam say about hitting a disobedient child?

A: You sometimes have to hit them, there is a hadith that says you have to hit your kids if they won’t do their salah after the age of ten. But the Islamic rules of corporal punishment are: you can’t hit them in the face, you can’t hit them hard enough to leave a mark, and you can’t do it in front of other people. You have to clearly explain why they are being punished. You have to be consistent with what you expect them to do and what will happen if they don’t do it.

The kind of hitting where it’s just the parent venting his aggression because he had a bad day is absolutely not allowed. I noticed some Muslim mothers do this and it really bothers me, because they also do things like make empty threats like, “If you don’t behave we are never going to come back to your cousin’s house ever again.” So the kid is just being trained to become a brat that distrusts his mother.

With my kids, I tell them the correct behavior three times. The second time they get a warning that says if you don’t do what I said after I said it three times, you will be punished. That way, when they choose to be bad, the third time, they know what is coming. In fact, if I just say 1, 2, 3 they usually jump into bed or whatever it is they are supposed to do. It’s not a matter of being surprised by their mother’s temper.

However, I usually prefer to use time outs, one minute for every year of the kid’s age. The only time a light spanking is appropriate is for a serious offense like a bald faced lie, or hitting a smaller child. If you do it more than once a month it no longer is useful as a punishment because they’ll learn to grin and bear it, but in that case you are just training your kid to view you as a mean person. You have to make it clear that you don’t want to do this. And it’s only for serious offenses.


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