Does this sound familiar?
You will reach an agreement with your children but when it is time, they will forget to do what they have agreed to. Now, that can be rather frustrating for parents.
Wouldn’t it be great if children always honour agreements made with their parents? The truth is our children sometimes don’t follow through on agreements because of the circumstances surrounding the agreement.
Did you make the decision alone as their parent and impose it on them OR did you reach an agreement together?
What are Agreements in Positive discipline?
Agreements are a powerful parenting tool when used right. They are made with your children when things aren’t going well and you notice a lot of conflict, whining, nagging and ultimatums. For instance, your child has agreed to do the dishes after dinner, but he conveniently forgot. The advantage of making agreements isn’t just about the parents getting what they want, but it is also about the kids getting to share what is important to them and being a part of the process of deciding what gets done, how and when.
Being part of the process gives your children a sense of power and control over their life.It is about giving your children a voice and not just foisting decisions upon them.
The Positive Discipline Approach to creating agreements follows the steps below:
- Have a friendly conversation with your child: You may start by asking your child how they are feeling about the situation being agreed on. For example, if doing the dishes is becoming a problem, get curious and ask your child why this is so. Prepare yourself to hear about your behaviour from their perspective and not get hooked on what they say. Hold the space for them to share. Listen, then let them know how you feel about the situation and let them know you need their help to find a solution to this problem.
- Brainstorm solutions. Solutions are related, reasonable, respectful and HELPFUL. You will be surprised how great your children are at coming up with ideas (especially when it favours them). Ask your child what ideas they have about how to solve the problem. Remain a non-judgmental listener as you write down their suggestions.
- Once they have exhausted their ideas, add a few of your own.
- Remain curious and friendly.
- Don’t be cynical and condescending.
- Showing respect is an important part of the process.
- Be sure to give everybody involved equal, uninterrupted time to state their opinion during the brainstorming session.
- Do not give opinions about brainstormed ideas. This is not the time for discussion. Just get lots of ideas written down on paper.
- It is a good idea to focus on solutions.
- It is important to discuss the pros and cons of each brainstormed idea. You might want to check: If an idea is practical, if it is attainable, if it will solve the problem, if it respects other people involved and so on.
- Pick one solution that both of you can live with and commit to trying it for a week. This is because you need to try it out to see if it works. Giving it a week allows both of you the space of knowing that you will be revisiting the agreement if it isn’t ideal.
- Set up a deadline. When the agreement is around getting something done, whether it is school assignments or a house chore, it is necessary to be specific about when it will happen, you also need to write this down. Also, set a day and time for when you will sit down and review how the week went. The conversation is much more likely to happen when we schedule it.
If after all these, an agreement isn’t kept, respectfully ask, “What was our agreement?”
As Muslims, it is important that we teach our children the importance of keeping the terms of an agreement. Allah has decreed for fulfilling promises great benefits in this world and in the Hereafter, in addition to the obvious benefits of creating a righteous and stable society.
Fulfilling promises is one of the attributes of the pious according to the Book of Allah, and it is one of the greatest means of attaining taqwa (piety, the consciousness of Allah). Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): “Yes, whoever fulfils his pledge and fears Allâh much; verily, then Allâh loves those who are Al-Muttaqûn (the pious)” [Al ‘Imraan 3:76].
Remember that children do not have the same level of commitment as adults do and the things that are important to you are not so high on their priority list. It is okay to respectfully remind your child of the agreement made.
One thing this process teaches them is the importance and the process of reaching agreements and how to brainstorm ways to do things in a way that works for all parties involved.
This is a life skill that will help them as they grow. They will also learn the value of integrity and keeping to their words as these are values that all righteous muslims should be known for.
I hope you have learnt something. If yes, would you like to join me in the Parenting for Jannah Academy? You should join the waitlist HERE to be notified when next we are open.