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Six Ways You’re (Unintentionally) Telling Kids NOT to Listen

Learning to be a good listener is a critical skill.  Kids need to learn to be active listeners (here’s how I teach it in the classroom) and adults need to remember to be good listeners too.  But there are also things we do as we speak to children that may increase or lessen the likelihood that children will actually be listening.

Here are 6 ways we may be unintentionally telling kids NOT to listen, and how to correct that:

1. Making it Sound Optional

Sometimes we give a direction, but present it as a choice.  “Do you want eat your dinner?”  “Pick up your shoes, OK?”  In our adult world we know the subtleties that imply that these aren’t really optional, but that’s all lost on kids.  Make directions…well…direct.  That doesn’t mean we have to bark or be impolite.  In fact, studies have shown that kids respond best to directions that are spoken softly and worded positively (read more about that study  over here).  Instead of the ambivalent examples above, try: “You need to join us for dinner now.”  “Please pick up your shoes.  Thank you!”

2.  Creating the Wrong Picture

Like I mentioned above, kids respond best when directions are worded positively.  I call this “Say What You Need to See” in my ebook and parenting ecourse.   If the directions you give are painting a mental picture that is opposite of what you want, or that doesn’t clarify what you need, kids are likely to misread your directions.

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Zakat eligibility of The FYI

The Family & Youth Institute, or The FYI, is a well-known Muslim organization in the United States. It works to promote mental health and wellness by strengthening and empowering individuals, families, and communities through research and education. It has been working for many years to bring Islamic perspectives to understanding and promoting mental health in our communities.

It is dedicated to serving and supporting Muslims – safeguarding our deen, our families, and our future generations. Therefore, the work of The FYI comes in the category of ‘fi sabeelillah’ or the Path of Allah, within the eight categories where Zakat money can be used.

Zakah expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed for it and for bringing hearts together [for Islam] and for freeing captives [or slaves] and for those in debt and for the cause of Allah, and for the [stranded] traveler – an obligation [imposed] by Allah, And Allah, is Knowing and Wise.”
(Al-Tawbah 9:60)

According to scholars who widen the meaning of fee sabeelillah to include any activities that promote Islamic growth, The FYI is indeed eligible to receive part of the Zakat funds for its programs and services. I urge Muslims in America to support this organization through their donations, general charity, and through their Zakat. I ask Allah swt to strengthen and guide The FYI to continue its good work in supporting Muslims.

Shaikh Ali Suleiman Ali, PhD

About Shaikh Ali

Sh. Ali Suleiman Ali was born in Ghana where he spent his childhood studying with various Muslim scholars. He then moved to Saudi Arabia and enrolled in the Islamic University of Madina.  He graduated with a degree in both Arabic and Islamic Studies. Dr. Ali went on to complete his Ph.D. in Islamic Studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Sh. Ali serves on the Advisory Council of The Family & Youth Institute. He is the Senior Imam and Director of the Muslim Community of Western Suburbs in Canton, Michigan. Additionally, he serves as the Director of Muslim Family Services in Detroit and is a council member of the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA). He is also a member of the North American Imams Federation (NAIF) and the Association of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA).