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Lecture- 7 Infancy and Pre-school Nursing

“It is He who fashioned you in the best form and provided you with good things,…” (al-Quran 40:64)

A New Challenge

As the baby gradually becomes a child, his world starts widening - from his parents in the beginning to people around him. The surrounding environment keeps on building his personality.

In the first two years the baby grows steadily and changes rapidly. The cooing and babbling

sounds that come from the tiny mouth have magical attraction. By the time he sits and crawls he has learnt how to make mess of things. Within a year he is used to do a lot of mischief and

get on other peoples’ nerves. The little angel becomes active and as such, needs protection from

a lot of household dangers when he walks, runs, talks and pokes into anything he finds interesting.

As he grows he learns how to communicate meaningfully with others. He sees, observes, responds and learns. Countless information piles up in his small brain and tries to confuse him about the meaning of the world. He is in the process of building his unique personality. This is

the time when parents have tremendous role in his rapid physical growth, intellectual development and spiritual quest. The child’s life begins as an adventure and this, naturally, puts

a high demand on the parents. Everyday he masters new skills, speaks new words and

understands new concepts through games and other activities. All parents remember their child’s beginning years with most affection.

Safety and Well-being

A baby is dependent on others, but not ignorant or totally helpless. He knows when he is happy,

hungry, tired or in pain and he signals these with his sound and body movement. As ‘health is wealth’, the parents must take their young child’s physical well-being, safety, immunisation, etc, very seriously. So should be the moral, spiritual and intellectual upbringing. The formation period of a man’s journey in the world should have a strong grounding on all these.

Child’s Attachment to Parents

Parents, especially mothers, should provide physical closeness to child in order to give him

security and peace when he needs most in a world which is totally new to him in his tender age.

In the early days someone has to keep an eye on the vulnerable creature. A child, of course,

should not be made unnaturally dependent on parents. A gradual natural ‘programme’ for independence needs to be adopted. This requires careful planning for positive parenting. The practical task of parenting needs ‘professionalism’ and basic ‘skills’.

Children Learn through Play

Children love playing. The sort of games or play a child likes vary. Games and other activities give him the opportunity to learn about the world around him. Prophet Muhammad gave

importance to this. Even in his old days, he used to engage himself in innocent play with his young wife Ayesha. It is universally acknowledged that physical activity, games, intellectually stimulating play, etc, enhance children’s creativity and confidence.

Parents Learn from Children

Parents do not have to be psychologists, but they need common sense and elementary knowledge to interact and contribute to their child’s development. Conscious parents continuously learn from the child. It is a two-way process. If parents respond positively to a child, he will eventually develop into a sociable and considerate person. But parents should not hurry in such a process. All children are born with innate potential, parents need only to blossom them.

Beware of TV as a Baby-sitting Tool

The struggle for survival in the real world keeps parents terribly busy. As a result, many of them cannot invest required amount of time with their children. In situations these, TV could unwittingly take place of a Baby-sitter. For the tiny minds, finding no other creative things to do, TV can prove to be a ‘Terrible Virus’. Like viral infection, TV addiction can have fatal effect for the growth of the child. Unless it is absolutely essential for both parents to engage in full-time earning or study, parents should plan between themselves to make sacrifice for their loved ones. Even for those lucky ones who have support from the closed family members, making time for their children is vital.

Home as the Nursery

Positive parenting involves pro-active teaching with love and care, but with admonition if and when necessary. All these should have contexts. Parents should plan for disseminating knowledge and understanding commensurate with age and ability. One cannot expect parents to have formal syllabus as schools have, but conscientious parents have targets and focus in educating their children from the very beginning.

Children are not adults and as such should not be left on their own to find their own way. It is true that natural instinct leads human beings to find their way to survival. But children need nurturing – physical, intellectual as well as spiritual, in order to grow as ‘emissary’ of Allah on earth. If the parents fail to shape their character in Islamic way, the environmental effect will turn them away from Islam. Responsible parents are like cautious potters who meticulously and sensitively engage in shaping their vulnerable raw materials for a wholesome outcome. Every community invests on creating their future generation in their way. Muslims in the past succeeded in creating Muslim personalities when they were the teachers of humanity. Unfortunately, this vision is blurred to many Muslim parents. This has proved disastrous for the ummah in the past centuries.

Examples are Better than Precepts

Children are efficient in identifying love, affection, anger, sadness and other human features. They can read the faces of their parents even when they are small. Parental dealings have to be meaningfully positive, especially in their tender age. Parents need to overtly display their positive

feelings. They should maintain consistency in their dealings and behaviour. However, discipline is also important for proper upbringing and teaching. That does not mean that parents should only resort to ‘Do’s and Don’ts’ to discipline their children.

Vocabulary and Islamic Ethos

As sickness spreads fast, swearing words and slang languages could be easily learnt by the children. Parents must be careful in using words at home. Islamic vocabulary should be constantly used before the children so that they get the habit of saying them. The words, Bismillah, Alhamdulillah, Insha’Allah, Assalamualaikum and like should be in their lips as daily vocabulary. At the same time parents need to practise religion and general rules of human decency. They should make a habit of uttering supplications loudly so that they make imprints on young minds. Children in a house where parents are practising Muslims copy many of the rituals that have lasting influence in their life.

Personality Traits

As a child grows under the very eyes of the parents and other adults, he develops his own unique personality. Some of the traits are inherited or hereditary. His physical features, such as height and colour of the skin and mental characteristics, such as aesthetic talents are passed from the parent’s genes. However, a child’s environment is as important as their genes. His upbringing, health care, education, abundance or deficiency of love, family manners, etc, influences the growth and development of the child and moulds his personality.

Parents have lot of expectations from their child. But no one knows whether they will be realised. Every baby has a future that is already predetermined by Allah. This belief and conviction is rooted in Islam. Instead of creating fatalism and passivity, this creates in Muslims a full reliance on Allah and an over-arching urge for dynamic and creative action, targeted only to please Allah. Heredity, environment and action are the ingredients of human destiny. Parents must have open mind about them. At the end of the day parents can only try and pray for their children.

1.

With reference to the way in which a child develops in the first 2 years, suggest practical ways

to make them learn.

2. What kind of environment is suitable for a moral, spiritual and intellectual upbringing.

3. Suggest a basic plan for how you would gradually make your child more independent.

4. Suggest examples of games you would play with your children and how you could modify

them so that they have an Islamic perspective.

5. The author says: "But parents should not hurry in such a process." How do you think “hurrying

the development process of a child” can affect his future and character.

6. How can TV prove to be a “terrible virus”? Suggest ways of using TV positively.

7. What is the meaning of “pro-active teaching”? How would you make your child develop a love

and thirst for learning about the “righteous predecessors” of Islam?

8. What, according to you, is important to maintain the balance between love and discipline?

9. How would you deal with a situation where your child has picked up swearing words at school

and is using them frequently. 10. Show how “having lot of expectations from their child” be both beneficial and detrimental.