Guiding your children in prayer
Prayers or Solat are important for Muslims. It is a task we are asked to fulfil five times a day, above all other religious acts. If our prayers are taken care of, everything else will be fine. God has spoken: “Indeed, those who believe and do righteous deeds and establish prayer and give zakat will have their reward with their Lord, and there will be no fear concerning them, nor will they grieve.” (Al Baqarah-277).
In the context of early childhood development, teaching children to pray is a crucial and very important task. Teaching and leading children in prayer are not as easy as teaching a child ABC or 123. This great responsibility comes with many tests and requires wise parents.
According to some experts, educating children through a spiritual approach is intended to purify the spirit or soul of the child so that it can be holier and luminous. God has said: “O you who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer. Indeed, Allah is with the patient.” (Al Baqarah-153).
Here are some tips to help you guide your children to start praying:
1) SET A GOOD EXAMPLE
Parents are the best and closest example for children to adopt. Fathers who regularly go to the mosque, mothers who continue to pray when they hear the call and teach children about congregational prayers are some of the best examples for children. This is one of the most effective teaching methods mentioned by Dr Abdullah Nasih Ulwan in his great book Tarbiyatul Aulad on the importance of us showing a good example to our children.
2) AGE 0 – 2 YEAR: CREATE A CONDUCIVE ENVIRONMENT
Even though the child is young and is unable to understand religious concepts, a good atmosphere and environment will make prayer normal. Don’t take that as an excuse for not teaching them praying. If they regularly see us praying, they will eventually replicate it. Same goes to our recitation of the dua, they will try to copy and reciting in their ways. Speak to them and let them hear.
3) AGE 2 – 3 YEAR: INVITE YOUR CHILDREN
Do not hesitate to always invite and allow them to pray together. Let them join us. Let them pray together even if they make mistakes. Let them follow our movements. They will start to enjoy praying.
4) AGE 4 – 6 YEAR: WHY DO WE PRAY?
This is the right time for us, parents to tell about the importance to pray. Teach them how to pray correctly and explain to them why this is important as Muslims. Explanation in a form of storytelling would be best for your children to understand.
5) AGE 7 – 9 YEAR: OBJECTIVES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
These are 3 critical years. These are the years of strengthening the prayer base. We’ve been showing examples, invitations and insights since birth. By this time the child should already know what to do during the call, how to apply wudhu, the movement and the recitation in prayer. Although not smooth or efficient, at least they have the basics. Parents need to constantly remind as this is the age at which youngsters become more intransigent.
6) 10 YEARS OLD AND ABOVE – PUNISHMENT
In the hadeeth of prayer, the Messenger of God has allowed us to punish children who refused to pray when they are 10 years old. But before we enforce any punishment, we must ask ourselves if we gave them a good understanding and whether we set an appropriate example. Only we as parents know this. The process of teaching the children to pray does not stop when they turn 10 years old. It is a beginning that will shape their personality in the future.
While practising all of the above tips, we need to always recite our dua asking help from Allah to make our life always easier and better.