Say it with a Smile

Picture this:-

It’s past bedtime, you told your 5 year old son to put away his toys and get ready for bed. 30 minutes later you go into your son’s room and he’s still happily playing with his toys. Now, what would your immediate reaction be?

Would it be something like:-

“Didn’t I tell you to put away your toys and get ready for bed!? Why are you still playing with your toys? Put them away, now!”

Now, let’s take a look at how the Prophet Muhammad salla Allahu ‘alayhe wa salam dealt with an almost similar situation. Take special note of the words in bold and underlined.
When he was 10 years old, Umm Sulaym, the mother of Anas Ibn Malik, gave her son in the service of the Prophet salla Allahu ‘alayhe wa salam.
In his ten years as the Prophet’s servant Anas said “….I served him for ten years, and he never said, “Uff” (an expression of disgust) to me. He never said, ‘Why did you do that?’ for something I had done, nor did he ever say, ‘Why did you not do such and such’ for something I had not done.” (Bukhari & Muslim)
Anas also said,
“Allah’s Messenger salla Allahu ‘alayhe wa salam had the best disposition amongst people. He sent me (when I was a child) on an errand one day, and I said: By Allah, I would not go. I had, however, this idea in my mind that I would do as Allah’s Apostle (SAW) had commanded me to do. I went out until I happened to come across children who had been playing in the street. In the meanwhile, Allah’s Messenger (SAW) came there and he caught me by the back of my neck from behind me. As I looked towards him I found him smiling and he said: Unays, did you go where I told you to go? I said: Allah’s Messenger, yes, I am going. (Narrated by Muslim)
Masha-Allah! Notice that even though Anas was a still a child he was at least more than 10 years old when this incident happened? Notice how the Prophet sal Allahu alayhe wa salam did not get upset, but merely reminded him of the task in a good-natured manner? 
This hadeeth shows that Prophet sal Allahu alayhe wa salam understood the psychology of children and even teenagers; ie. they will forget and they will make mistakes (just like us, adults, huh?), so the burden falls upon us to be merciful towards them and overlook their faults.

As a parent I can only say that this is much easier said than done. We may remember it one day and forget the next. But as I recall my own experiences from being a child, a mother, a wife and an adult, I have learnt that in general we, as human beings respond more positively to gentleness than to harshness. It really is true that it’s not what you say but how you say it.

To illustrate this, think of something mean to say to your loved one…and imagine saying it to him/her with a huge smile on your face. Do you think your loved one will get offended? Then think of saying something really nice to your loved one, this time say it in the meanest of tones…you get what I mean?

So, let’s revisit the above scene:-

We open the door to our son’s room and we see that he is still playing with his toys…

We walk calmly towards him, sit ourselves down next to him, put our arm around his shoulders and say in the gentlest of tones; “Are you going to put away your toys and get ready for bed?”, with a big smile on our face…

May Allahu subhanahu wa ta’ala grant us patience in dealing with our children in the best of manners. Ameen.

(I learnt about this hadeeth from an AlMaghrib class I took on Islamic Manners; “The Rules of Engagement” some years ago. And somehow the way the Ustadh conveyed it to us made it stick to my head till this very day, and so I thought it was indeed something worth sharing. May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala reward Shakyh Muhmmad Faqih with the best of rewards. Ameen.)
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