I love kids.
You love kids.
He, she, they love kids.
We all love kids.
The only thing we love about kids is telling other people what we love about kids. Don't get me wrong, we're not all alike. But very few of us have mastered and understood what connecting with a child should be and how it feels to establish a relationship based on mutual trust. So, I've compiled a list of reasons which may be hindering you from creating a special bond with the younger generations.
Here's a list of 10 reasons why kids probably don't like you:
1. You don't look them in the eye while they speak:
If you're not getting down on your knees and looking them in the eye when they speak, then you've set a barrier between you and the child based on power relations. So don't be surprised if they are not comfortable befriending you.
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) used to give all children his full attention. Whenever they had something to say to them he used to listen intently and not turn his face away from them.
2. You're not honest with them:
You're not communicating clearly with them and let me tell you something, children have a miraculous ability to read your soul. They can see the hidden intentions and don't appreciate you talking down to them. When you speak to them as if they can't understand your English and in oohs and ahs that don't carry any sincerity, they can see right through it. So sometimes we try really hard and wonder why it's not working. That's because, you said it, you're trying. You're not being honest and you're not being yourself. I get that sometimes we feel the need to conceal the truth in order to not hurt their feelings. But everything has a manner and a discipline. If you communicate in a positive tone and offer up something to make up for the bad news, then they won't be as upset as you think. In fact, children can easily be entertained by something new and they don't always sit like us and think deeply about things. Being honest with a child also means expressing appropriate body language. Would you ask a stranger on the street for a hug and a kiss? No. So please spare the child that uncomfortable moment where you force them into close contact in front of their parents. They get awkward too. It's always best to let the relationship develop on its own and to wait for the child to feel comfortable expressing closeness to you before you can initiate contact. And not all children need hugs and kisses to feel intimate with an adult. Sometimes simple quality play pretty much does it.
3. You think they have nothing to offer you:
You're far ahead of them in years. Must mean you're wiser right? Children can surprise you and inspire you time and time again. They view the world in which we live in from a perspective you may never relive again. They can give you insight on complex concepts and show you the bigger picture on life. Your relationship with a child should be two-way and in these types of relationships both parties give and receive. A child can offer you friendship. What's better than that?
Anas bin Malik [ra] narrated: The Prophet (peace be upon him) used to mingle with us to the extent that he would say to the younger brother of mine, “O father of Umair! What did An Nughair [your sparrow] do?” [Muslim]
4. You're trying to impress others:
Are you monopolizing the child's trust for your own egocentric desires to impress others around you? How do we treat children who don't live with us in comparison to those who do? When are we the most attentive and patient with children? Don't deceive yourself into thinking you care enough about something that is so easily displayed in public but so rarely seen in private. God can see and hear everything. He only knows who has the right intention over who doesn't. And again, you think kids don't sense this? Children know when they're being treated inconsistently and why. Be careful or one day you'll find yourself exposed by the same children you preach to care so much about. Because unlike you, they're honest.
5. You're not willing to sacrifice for them:
When a child is conveniently located in proximity to us, is bathed and wearing the cutest clothes, it's easy to give him/her your time. But when a child needs from you merely a listening ear or a trip to the park or maybe just companionship, you've got better things to do. So you excuse yourself on account that you're super busy. Similarly when a child needs someone to feed or bath them, you're nowhere to be found. The best type of sacrifice you can give for Allah's sake is the sacrifice of the ego in my opinion. It's when you can join a child in play and come out with clothes full of dirt, glue and other things children love to play with. Unfortunately, for some of us, speaking to a child and saying salam to them is not necessary. They are not perceived to be of the same level as adults and don't require smiles or affection. I'm not talking about that cute attractive child, I'm talking about all children.
The prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) used to kiss children and loved them very much. Once he was kissing children when a Bedouin came and said, "You love children very much. I have ten children and I have never kissed one of them." Muhammad replied, "What can I do if God takes away love from you?"
Whenever the Prophet Muhammad (صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم ) passed by children, he tried to be the first to greet them and say “Assalaamu Alaikum.” When riding he would let children sit on his camel or donkey.
I would like to think this is a subconscious things we do. We tend to gravitate towards children of the same race and who speak the same language and prefer more "beautiful" ones over the rest. Or perhaps we know the child's parents and our ego can't simply allow us to get close to the child. Since that would imply we are mingling with our relationships with the parent. All children are angels. They may not all behave like so in their outwardly manner. But they are not accountable for these things and don't have the same adult perspective on relationships that some of us have formed from our experience. Keep in mind, some of the most "misbehaved" children might have experienced abuse in the family or might have a mental disorder. All children are angels and should be treated as so. Don't limit the extent of your relationship with them because of your self-constructed boundaries with other adults.
7. You only like the obedient kind:
It's so easy to like an obedient child. But how are we with not so conforming children? You can blame the parents, environment culture, whatever you want. However, we must realize that just like adults, children have a mind and energy of their own. The trick is to work on harnessing that energy in a positive and creative way and to never look to suppressing or exerting control over them. You wouldn't like that on you so why on them?
8. You don't reward or praise them:
Why are we so cheap with our thanks and compliments? You can never give a child too much deserving praise. If a child is not receiving a positive experience after your encounter with them, you might not see them again.
The Prophet Muhammad ( peace be upon him) loved to play with children. He made them stand in a straight line, then he himself stood at a distance, spread his hands and told the children, “Come running to me. Whoever touches me first will get a prize,” they would all come, running and breathless. When they reached the Prophet ( peace be upon him), they would fall all over him. He enjoyed this sport, gave prizes of dates and sweets to the winners and hugged and kissed the participants.
9. You yell at them:
It is never okay to yell at a child. Yeah sometimes we slip. But always look to the background of the relationship. Are we yelling the majority of the time? Let me explain why. Children do not understand your yelling the same way you do. When you yell, they only think of your yelling. They may cry over it or feel guilty for making you yell, but it won't always hammer with them why you yelled. When you yell at older children (teens for example) you put in them a sense of fear which can impede in your communication with them because they will feel that your initial reaction will always be to overreact and show aggression rather than compassion and understanding. And they will definitely not come to you for advice when they mess up. Also, beware of displacement of your anger. Just because your boss fired you from work, doesn't mean that gives you a free pass to vent your anger at your helpless children. Your problems are yours. Don't make them feel guilty over them.
Prophet (peace be upon him) used to teach children that failure doesn't exist. Narrated Anas (RA):
I served The Prophet for ten years, and he never said to me, "Uf" (a minor harsh word denoting impatience) and never blamed me by saying, "Why did you do so or why didn't you do so?" [Bukhari Kitab Al-Adab]
So by mercy from Allah , [O Muhammad], you were lenient with them. And if you had been rude [in speech] and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you. So pardon them and ask forgiveness for them and consult them in the matter. And when you have decided, then rely upon Allah . Indeed, Allah loves those who rely [upon Him].[3:159]
You don't challenge them and have low expectations of their abilities. Which actually tends to backfire and suppress any real opportunities for growth or display of true skills. Because you don't think they can, then they do not have the encouragement to try and thus they do not. Confidence is the best thing we can give any child.