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Islamic principles in raising children

Date: 05/11/2013 A.D 1/1/1435 H

Respecting the child's mind.

One of the general principles in raising children is that parents should not consider their child as part of their possessions. Instead, they should consider him God's trust that Allah, The Most Exalted, has put in their hands. This is done by loving the child, listening to him and respecting his mind. It should be suggested to him that he could reach the facts if he exerts enough effort. He should also be taught to criticize, discuss except or refuses the otherís ideas. If you respect the thinking of others and their opinions you will discuss it with them, since this discussion represents recognition of the other.

Respecting the child and teaching him to respect the other is part of a general and integrated policy that includes respecting the ideas the child comes up with.

Thus, when he comes up with a silly, or a naÔve idea , parents should not make fun of him, but rather try to show him where he went wrong and encourage him to think again but this time in a better way, without making him feel helpless. Making fun of the child's abilities and potentials could make feel that he is stupid, inept and similar frustrating and negative judgements.

To avoid this, we should tell the child that he did not go wrong because he is stupid, but he used a superficial way of thinking, telling him, for example, that this superficial way will not lead to the truth, and that you should try again and again to reach positive results.

The role of punishment and reward

Q- there are many methods in education and bringing up children, but most depend on the principle of reward and punishment. What is the role of this principle in this educational process?

A-This principle is based on psychological mechanisms that induce positive behaviour and thwart negative attitudes. When man feels that he is promised by a reward for doing something, he will have a motive to work hard to do it, just as athletes who train hard in order to win a prize.

The reward plays the role of the stimulant for positive behaviour while punishment represents the opposite, since we avoid many things we desire because we are afraid of their negative repercussions own us, whether they were the result of the action itself or the reactions made by others.

The issue of reward and punishment is related to the feelings of desire and fear in the human psyche. They are important feelings that play a significant role in protecting and realizing one's self. But in applying the principle of reward and punishment, we have to study the individual's personality, as well as the circumstances and the methodology. Giving someone a wrong dose of reward or punishment may backfire and lead to counterproductive results.

In the case of children, the aim of using reward and punishment is to develop the childís personality and mind. This means that we have to discover the shortest way that will enable us to reach this mind.

And since the child has accumulated certain ideas in his mind and developed certain feelings in his heart, and since dealing with the child means trying to penetrate to the inner levels that are very difficult to reach we have to use several methods before we find the right one.

Thus the issue of reward or punishment is a changing process. We have to study if it is feasible before we use them. For example rewarding the child for studying might lead to that he will not study unless he is rewarded and so on. And this will mean that he will not be actually interested in studying or in any other issue or cause.

On the other hand, if the child is rebellious and refuses to study ,giving him a reward if he does, might be a positive act that will make him even find pleasure in doing so.

Reward and punishment is similar to medicine. We have to give the precise doses to ensure optimal results. It is also a Quranic principle that conforms with the human nature.

The concept of Mercy

Q: it has been related in our traditions that he who does not have mercy on our children is not one of us. What is meant by mercy in this context?

A Ė it might well mean that we ought to let the child feel secure, by constantly showing him that we love him whether by kissing or hugging and the like, or by letting him feel so by all kinds of gestures. The child needs this feeling of love and warmth that will give him security and tranquillity and enable him to develop his personality and potentials.

Moreover, mercy is an ethical Islamic principle that Allah, The Most Exalted, wants us to abide by in all our relations with others, especially that if you are not merciful, you will not treated with mercy or kindness

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