Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.
My 7-year-old daughter is going through some changes and testing the waters in regards to discipline, truthfulness, emotions, and words. Ya Rabb! I know my children are extremely easy compared to many others, mashaa'Allah. Regardless, parenting is hard at these times and I find myself struggling about how to handle various situations. I have been dialing the Parenting Help Hotline, seeking Allah's help and guidance in this.
Here is an outline of what happened a couple of days ago with her. Please note that she has been reading fluently since she was 3 years old, mashaa'Allah, so one wouldn't expect this to be a fix for most 7-year-olds, but a modified version might work. The key is to give children information and strategies that they can easily understand and implement. My daughter knows that The Pen (recorded account of good and bad deeds) isn't upon her yet, but that she is in training for when The Pen descends. This is a critical time, as these are the years where instruction for prayer and Islamic knowledge are being established.
In the morning at school, she said she wasn't walking downstairs with her little sister to play with her before classes start. Previously, she had gone down with her sister every day happily, without fail. This had her little sister very upset and me wondering what on earth was going on. I asked her why and she had no reason. I could tell that something was going wrong with her mindset. A friend and I both told her that she needs to take care of her sister and go downstairs with her. She went, but was silently whining and in a bad mood about it.
Once I saw that she was immersed in a bad mood, I went over to her and crouched down to eye level. I told her shaytaan was strongly influencing her at that time. After all, how can one fight if they don't know their enemy? I told her to say the istiaadha (the istiaadha is, "audhu b'Illahi min as shaytaan ir-rajeem) and as she said it, tears started rolling thick and fast down her cheeks. I told her that shaytaan didn't want her to get rid of him, that's why she was crying because there was a battle in her. I made her say it two more times and then had her recite Quran, the last three suwar. By the time she got to An Naas, I could see the calm coming over her. She recited Ayat al Kursy and then went to her classroom.
As the day continued, her mood remained considerably better, mashaa'Allah. However, once we had returned home and she was finished with her homeschooling, Allah sent me an idea. I called her over to read the Seven Phases of Shaytaan. Then I asked her at what stage she thought she was. After some thought, she told me she was at Phase 3, so I asked what major sins she was committing. She admitted to disobedience to parents and lying. Then she said, "So if I stop doing the major sins, shaytaan will get me to do minor sins next?" Now she was thinking, mashaa'Allah! I then had her read my post, Scream, Shout, Kick shaytaan Out! Immediately after she read it, she went to get her computer and played Surah al Baqarah.
Then we prepared to pray, and as usual she delayed us a bit, so I said, "See how shaytaan keeps getting to you?" She denied it was shaytaan and told me, "You don't love me as much as you used to." Naturally, I talked to her about that, telling her I love her and want only to see the best for her. I told her that she has great potential to teach others Islam and please Allah. I then told her if she went out and killed someone, I wouldn't feel the same about her. It isn't that I don't love her, but it isn't nice or easy for me when she does the wrong thing. I then told her that she is a child and I understand that she has to go through different stages to learn and grow. It's just not lovely for me as her mummy to have to see her be naughty because I do love her.
She went off, still feeling sad. We went about our business for another hour or two and then my daughters had an apple break while I was preparing dinner. Just as they were happily chatting away, Allah sent me another gem of guidance. I asked my daughter how she would feel if I stopped praying or walked outside without my hijab? She looked at me as if I'd lost my mind, LOL. Then I asked her again, how would she feel? She answered, "I would be upset!" I asked her why and she responded, "Because you would be disobeying Allah, Mummy!" (This is where anyone lurking in my mind would have heard my brain give a huge sigh of relief and a mental al hamdu'Illah!) I simply said to her, "Ah! So now do you understand how I feel when you disobey Allah?" Her face lit up as if the lightbulb had just gone on. She let out a laugh that said, "Now I get it!"
Since then, she has asked how she can get out of the phase she is in with shaytaan. I remind her to seek refuge in Allah and get rid of that rotten devil. They did a homeschooling unit on Understanding shaytaan, so her little sister knows the formula, too, mashaa'Allah. I tell them that every day they wake up and have choices to make; it's up to them to make the right and best choices. It is within their own control.
Will this be the end of it and we all live happily ever after? Of course not. I expect to remind and guide over and over again; that's what mothers do. When it comes to parenting, I have to turn to Allah, subhaana wa taala, He always gives me a way that was better than anything I could of dreamed up. To all you parents out there, rely on the Parenting Help Hotline first. Throw your hands up in dua' when you're seeking a way through to your children. It's the only way to ultimate success for you and your children.
Al hamdu l'Illahi rabbil aal ameen!