At what age should I start potty training?

Salaam (Peace),

When should I start potty training?

Almost every concerned parent, at the preschool where I worked, asked this question. This is one milestone we all are waiting for. That blessed day when we don’t have to see, change, or buy another diaper!
For some of us, there is little choice. We have to leave our child at a daycare or with a sitter who only accepts children who are potty trained. Some of us are just ready to get it over with. Especially, when helpful relatives or friends question us. “He’s still not potty trained…?” Comparisons to their potty training whiz kid, with things like, “Oh Yusuf was using the potty all by himself by the time he was…” are not helpful. So when should you start?

1. Start when he is able.

Able – means that the child is physically capable of using the bathroom. Specifically can the child hold their urine? You will have clues that the child is able to “hold their urine,” when they wake up and their diaper is dry. As they get older they will also stay dry for longer periods of time. Some children don’t have the physical capability even though they understand the concept. It is cruel to try to force a child to do anything that is beyond their capability.

2. Start when they understand.

Understand – means they can recognize the physical cues and understand that the cues mean it is time to use the potty. You can help by teaching them their physical cues. For example, you might see your child doing the “potty dance” hopping back and forth, and bouncing around. Ask the child, “do you need to use the potty.” Follow up by putting them on the pot. If they go you can tell them, “see you did need to use the potty and you did it!” Every child has cues and you will learn these together. Some kids do the dance, others run and stand in a corner. But these actions show a growing awareness of their body’s cues.

3. Start when they can communicate.

Communicate – means they can express that they need to use the potty. This is not always verbal! It may be pulling your hand, or going to the bathroom, reaching or pointing to themselves. Hopefully, they will be able to tell you. But if they can’t, as long as they can communicate the need to you, then they are ready.

4. Start when you have the time.

Time – means that you are not rushed. You have the time to consistently and patiently work with your child to guide them on this journey. Yes, part of, “is my child ready” depends on you. Are you ready? You have to be ready to take your child EVERY time you see the cues or he tells you that he needs to go. There will be a lot of false alarms. Recognize that potty time might be fun time. Especially if you have one of those fun, musical, talking toilets. (Which I don’t recommend!) But you have to take him each and every time he requests it.

5. Start when they want to.

Want – means when the child tells you. “I want to use the potty.” They might say it in different ways. But they might begin to show an interest in sitting on the potty or changing their own diapers. They sometimes begin to feel like, I want this nasty thing off of my body. Many children will sometimes say, “I boo boo.” And they will look at you as if to say, get it off. If it bothers them then they are ready to learn. But this is the one that is optional. Some children don’t mind being dirty at all. So we can’t wait for that child to “want” to potty train. If they are able, can communicate, and they understand, then they are ready.


Can I start before all of these steps.

Absolutely, and sometimes you have no choice! But these 5 conditions are the things that will make it much easier. My personal advice from 3 children and even more as a preschool teacher is: Prep your child with books and videos and talks before you start, Reward outrageously (not with food) but with songs, cheers, stickers and overwhelming enthusiasm and Be consistent. And even then it might not work if the child just isn’t ready. Especially if they’re not physiologically ready. And if the child is too resistant or not able, don’t continue to force them. Back off give it a few months or until they mature a little more and then try again. Here’s the advice my mom gave me when I was completely frustrated. She asked me patiently. Have you ever met a (normal, healthy) adult who couldn’t use the bathroom? Of course not. That’s because eventually, they will get it, everybody does!
I am including a few recommendations for potty training. The first is a good book on potty training techniques which work for many parents. The other books are some of my favorites. I used these books to read to toddlers to help them get used to the idea. (Note: These are affiliate links and I may receive a commission – at no additonal cost to you- when you buy products that I am genuinely excited about.)

This book is for parents, And by the way Dr McCoy, if you get a chance you should definitely check out her awesome blog:

This book is an oldie but a goodie, I love the line…he sat and sat and sat and sat…. Yes, Al Hamdulillah he sat! lol


These 2 are newer but the kids really enjoyed them…

While the first book is funny, this book is very sweet.

One more for you to try. I could go on and on. I love reading to children and I love picking out books for you to enjoy with your little ones. They learn so much when we read to them!



Should Muslims Cancel Netflix because of Cuties?

Maybe you missed all the uproar over the movie “Cuties” which is now streaming on Netflix. The movie is about: “A talented 11-year-old girl (who) joins a hip-hop dance troupe”. Although it sounds innocent, the movie is not. The 11 year olds engage in twerking, sexting, and watching pornography on a cell phone. The girls are often in sexually exploitative positions as characters and as actresses. The abhorrent behavior is causing righteous indignation across party lines. Sen. Ted Cruz is even calling for an investigation to determine if Netflix violated any child pornography laws. The cancel culture is serious about this movie!

Should Muslims (or anybody) cancel their Netflix subscription because of this movie? Honestly, that’s up to you. I am not, even though I am appalled by the content. But I am even more appalled by the hypersexuality that our children witness everyday. If this movie helps to rip the blindfold off of our eyes, then I applaud it while also hating it. But for anyone who has been observing what is going on in our society, this movie is no surprise. This moral desensitization has been building for a while now.

When I go in the store to buy summer clothes for my kids I’m shocked. The shorts for my son hang past his knees, while the ones for my daughter barely cover her butt. Not modest enough to wear even inside of the house! Television shows portray tweens in romantic relationships. Relationships that they cannot possibly handle at that age. By high school they believe that everyone has had sex and that virginity will make you an outcast. Singers like Cardi B and Meghan Thee Stallion convince them that strong empowered women are promiscuous. And a song like WAP can crack the top 20 when years ago it wouldn’t have EVER been produced.

I’m heartened to know that we can still be outraged. That we still care enough about our girls to be concerned about this movie. But I also care about these facts. Child sex trafficking is at an alarming rate. During the pandemic the number of online “enticements” of children has increased by 90%. Child sex trafficking accounts for 30 percent of all human trafficking. And in this country 52% of sex trafficking victims are Black or Latino. We have a real problem in this country and in this world. This problem didn’t start with “Cuties” and it won’t end with “Cuties”, unless we end it.
I’m including some links to organizations that are working to solve this problem. Feel free to check them out or find an organization in your community to assist. Taking these actions might do more to help an endangered child than canceling your Netflix membership. But any action at all will help more than no action at all.

Why should Muslims Homeschool?

Q. Why should Muslims homeschool? A. The immorality, bullying, Islamophobia and violence that plague many of our schools are neither conducive to learning or developing Islamic character and values.  That is the short answer to a complex question. When cities arrange special police patrols to help children safely arrive and leave school . Or when hijabis are taunted and told to “go back to where you came from.” When children endure months of bullying with no relief from their school.  When relationships of every kind, straight, bi and gay, are accomodated at schools. When students are allowed to freely walk through the halls, holding hands and kissing. You have to ask yourself, how much learning takes place? Are our students spending their day navigating, avoiding and sometimes participating in these  situations.
As Muslims we can all spout off hadith where the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.s. encouraged learning even if you have to go to China.  Or where he ordained the freeing of captives if they would teach someone to read.  Every Muslim knows that the first word of the Quran was “iqra,” usually translated as “read”. This established the link between Islam and education forever.  Education in Islam is both an obligation and a duty. We understand this, but do we understand what real learning is?
Learning is not just the processing and memorization of facts and ideas.  Schools today are navigating the same issues as their students, and very little learning is taking place.  Instead teachers focus on teaching the common core. Facts and ideas that students are expected to learn, memorize and master.  Mastery of these facts are gauged on achievement tests. The higher the score or grade marks a child as successful or not.  But learning is more than success on a test. Your child has learned when they can take the facts of various subjects and pull them together to generate new ideas, conclusions and apply that thinking to everyday life.  Taking what they have learned to the “next level”.  Next level thinking requires creativity and critical thinking. Two critical skills not taught in schools.  It was this next level thinking that allowed early Muslims to take ayats from the Quran and make revolutionary advances in diverse fields like  algebra, astronomy and optometry Are we raising the next generation of Muslim inventors, scientists, philosophers etc?  Are we raising community leaders and activitsts?
Teachers in today’s schools don’t have the time or the manpower to help children achieve their individual genius and potential. To help each child find and master their potential takes individual learning in one on one or small group settings Teachers also are not equipped or even encouraged to help children facing moral dilemmas. Teachers are not there to help your child stay on the “siratul mustaqeen. (the straight path).  Everyday your child is in a “jihad” a struggle against forces that want to take him away from his deen.  That struggle may be overt or subtle. But it is a relentless daily pressure, to conform and “be like everyone else.”  Is it any wonder, given this unrelenting stress, that many of our children leave the deen by the time they are in college.
There are many alternatives to the traditional schools that are failing our children so badly Many communities have full time Islamic schools that educate children very well in safe, smaller settings in an Islamic environment There are also some private schools which although not Islamic, do provide a safer place to foster true and creative learning.  Some times these options are not available, either because of location or expense. Homeschooling can become another possible alternative.  Homeschooling is not a good fit for every family.  It is not easy.  It is time consuming and can cost money.  But for those who are able and willing the benefits can be enormous and rewarding.
Should you homeschool your Muslim child? The answer is YES!!!  If it will help protect your child’s iman, give them a better academic and Islamic education and provide learning in a safe enviornment.  If you can provide these three things then you should homeschool.

A Muslim Reflects on September 11th

A Muslim Reflects on 9/11.

Like many Americans, I watched transfixed as the Twin Towers fell down on September 11, 2001. My coworkers and I hunched around a 6 inch, grainy, black and white, contraband television set on our assistant’s desk. Most of us missed when the first tower fell. But her sharp cry of alarm brought us all running. We arrived in time to watch live as the second tower fell, to our shocked amazement. We did not immediately attribute the act to terrorism. It was not our automatic response as it would be today. The shock was too new. It was unimaginable at first, that this had happened on purpose. We thought the first tower was a terrible accident. Then as the second tower fell, a horrific coincidence. That naivete did not last long. Within the hour it was clear that America was under attack. As planes fell in Pennsylvania and the pentagon, fear replaced shock. We searched to name this unnamed enemy to all Americans. It didn’t take long to name the enemy and the lives of all us to change forever.

As the only Muslim in my office, I was protected from the (sometimes brutal) Islamophobic attacks that others endured that day. Spared because of the unique relationship I’d built with my coworkers over the years. Although not a hijabi, I had worked to teach my colleagues the beauty of Islam BEFORE the attacks. Often explaining the meaning and importance of Ramadan and our two holidays. Sharing with coworkers, things like Eid gifts. I also participated in customs that were important to them, such as weddings and funerals. Somethings I could not Islamically take part in, such as Easter. But I made sure to explain the reason why and to still wish them peace and joy on their holiday. Many of them returned the same wishes for mine. Enthusiastically they wished me an Eid Mubarak (or blessed holiday), and tried to ease my fasting by not bringing food around or inviting me to lunch during Ramadan. Because I had built this relationship of faith and trust before September 11th, I had their full support on September 11th. Others were not so lucky. I received a worried call from my friend in New York City. Her colleague had returned to their job in tears after leaving the building wearing her hijab. She’d been shouted and spit at and nearly choked as someone tried to rip the hijab from her head. Her only option was to run back to the safety of her job. Once there, she removed her hijab out of fear for her life before exiting again.

It was a scary time. Now sixteen years later I wonder have we come much further? The answer is yes and no. It is a roller coaster ride of contradictions, highs and lows. The highs include; increased interfaith collaborations and interactions, increased understanding of Islam by non-Muslims, inclusion of Muslim history and culture in schools and public institutions, more toleration and legal protections for Islamic dress, and the rise in the number of Muslims in politics both state and federal. All of the positive progressions have been met with Al hamdulillah!!! Praise be to God, for bringing us all together during difficult times, and for helping us to include Muslims in the American melting pot.

But we can’t rest on our progress or highs without examining our lows. The invasion of foreign Muslim countries who, we learned in retrospect, had absolutely nothing to do with the bombings on September 11th. The destabilization of many other countries leading to war and loss of life that continues sixteen years later. Watching dominoes fall in painful slow motion for sixteen years as whole countries changed forever. We watched impotently as our country used inhumane interrogation and torture techniques. To get information that we later learned was useless. Denial of basic human rights and due process to detainees at Guantanomo Bay and other “black sites”. The rise in anti-Muslim, propaganda, sentiment and terrorism. Masajid burned and vandalized. Muslim women and children harassed and attacked are all part of the lows. Culminating in the election of the most Anti-Muslim, Anti-immigrant president we have ever had.

Both the highs and the lows have been extremes. Most of our daily lives fall somewhere in the middle. We interact a little bit more and we are harassed a little bit more. This has become our status quo. Our new normal, that continues as we live our lives post September 11th. As we continue journeying past this date, it is my prayer that Allah (God) continues to keep our country safe from another attack. I pray that the highs increase and the lows decrease. I pray that those who would use Islam to terrorize others return to the core Islamic values of peace and patience. If they refuse to come back to the fold of Islam and choose instead to hold fast to their terrorist tactics then I pray that they are stopped before they cause any harm. I pray that ultimately this event is something that brings us together as Muslims and makes our ummah (community) stronger. I pray that it also brings us together as Americans and teaches us to live together with tolerance and patience and reminds us of the dangers when we don’t.

Are you paying attention to Allah?

Today as I was driving home I was awestruck by the most beautiful violet and purple sunset. STUNNING, GORGEOUS SubhanaAllah I thought of the line from the Color Purple when she says something like “I think it pisses God off when you walk by the color purple

in a field and don’t stop to appreciate it.” What does Allah have to do to get our attention? On the flip side, sometimes He will show us the depths of inhumanity, savage atrocities, mass destruction, devastating wars or calamities but if it doesn’t affect us we barely notice. So again, What does Allah have to do to get our attention? I think this is why the Children of Israel story resonates across generations and religions. We are all Egyptians, getting God’s amazing signs everyday and ignoring them… smh… What does Allah have to do get YOUR attention…