In the tarbiyyah of children, you should remember that children often learn from example. The proper conduct an example of parents are crucial in the upbringing of children. Parents who expect their children to be disciplined and to work hard must themselves be disciplined and work hard. Parents who expect their children to be truthful must not be in the habit of telling lies. Also, it is important to remember that the treatment given to children in the early years of their life can have far-reaching effects on their mental and emotional state later on in life.
In the tarbiyyah of children, you should try to remember that:
Children should be happy and cheerful, and have a zest for life and living. They should be able to feel something of the carefree joy and excitement of growing up, especially before they are mukallaf. They should not be battered and terrorized. They should be trained to grow up with the attitudes and habits, the adah or etiquette or Islam: "be generous, kind and noble to your children and make their habits and manners good and beautiful (Akrimuu awlaadakum was ahsinuu adabahum)," said the noble Prophet.
Among the virtues and habits they should develop are:
- The habit of being honest and truthful;
- The habit of being gentle and polite-for according to the noble prophet, "Gentleness adorns everything" - without being timid, afraid and cowed down;
- The habit of being helpful and considerate without being loutish in their behaviour to others;
- The habit of being clean and neat and tidy, of looking after their personal hygiene and appearance.
Children need to develop physical fitness and skills, to be strong and courageous. The prophet recommended that children be taught horse-riding, swimming and archery. One Muslim ruler once suggested that his child be taught swimming before reading and writing on the grounds that someone else may read and write for him but no one can swim for him! From the noble Prophet's recommendations, we see that children need to lead an active outdoor life and be proficient in some of the martial arts. They should have the stamina for demanding play and demanding work. This implies at least that they should be adequately fed.
Children need to develop a thirst for knowledge, beneficial knowledge - through listening, observation, reading, interacting with others. It is recommended that children be taught from an early age to recite and read the Qur'an and develop a love for it. At an early age, they have the capacity to memorize it and it is common for many children and youths to memorize the whole or large parts of the Qur'an. From the age of seven, the prophet recommended that children should get in the habit of performing Salaat and by the age of ten they should be required to do so regularly.
Children need to develop skills and to be creative and inventive. They should be trained from an early age to take on responsibilities, to organize and take initiative rather than be timid and submissive. They should be able to spend their time usefully and profitably. They need to develop the skills that would fit them for contemporary living and for the particular society in which they live. This may involve anything - from the skills of running an efficient and creative home to the skills that would enable them to earn a living and help in the process of tarbiyyah when their turn comes. Give a person a fish and you just feed one person; teach a person to fish and he can then feed hundreds, says an apt Chinese proverb.
Above all, correct tarbiyyah should ensure that children develop a love for Islam, a love for God , Holy Prophet and his household that they develop a feeling of pride in being a Muslim and a willingness to strive for the good of others. They need to realize the benefits of Islam, the foundations on which it is based and their need for Islam. They need to value Islam and live by Islamic values.