“He is too young for that.” This is a common expression that mothers have heard from their elders or other mothers under the banner of free advice. However, I have experienced it to be entirely wrong. We often ignore our toddlers and/ or underestimate their capabilities that Allah (swt) has blessed them with.
It is supported by researches that fetus starts listening and recognizing the voice of his mother while in her womb. This indicates his ability to comprehend and adapt to other clues, when he is just a toddler. Being a mother, I have made some achievements to connect with my son emotionally and most importantly – to connect him to Deen.
Listening skills are finer than speaking at early years. So make use of it by talking to your toddler about things. Describe him the procedure that you will do to make a simple shake or whatever, tell him about the existence of Allah (swt) and angels, who record deeds. Explain him appropriate behaviours and show him emotions by modeling yourself.
Instead of making your child addicted to television and other gadgets, encourage him to listen to Quran’s recitation. A wide range of Islamic Nasheeds are also available online. You can check Kids Land by Dr. Farhat Hashmi – it has Urdu, English, and Arabic Nasheeds that toddlers love to listen. Memorize them yourself and sing with your babies. They will love your actions and voice, and this way you will limit use of computers and television from an early age.
I was astonished to know how quickly these little toddlers pick up visual information. Buy them colorful Islamic books, read them out aloud to them and ask them questions related to the context. Repetition and consistency are the two keys to success. Masha’Allah, my son learned to perform ablution, when he was one plus by just looking at me, while I was making ablution, and with the aid of pictures. I involve him in craft work by making thematic artwork for Hajj or Ramadan and posters on Salah and other pillars of Islam.
Narrate to them stories at bed time – stories, which talk about good behaviour, Jannah, animals, and prophets. What is worth doing is your involvement in it: the way you narrate, your gestures, actions and tone will make it a fun learning. You have no idea how much impact it can have on his beliefs in later years.
Always offer them choice by giving two or three options. By this you will catch them psychologically, and they will have no way of saying ‘no’ but to accept from the choices given. For instance, ask them which color milk you want? Red (add few drops of red color juice) or chocolate? They will be tied up to the options and will choose one, Insha’Allah.
Make their eatables attractive. Spend some time and effort in preparing healthy foods; and do not leave them on mercy of junk food from an early age. You can make oat muffins instead of normal all-purpose flour; or can bake cookies of various shapes by using alphabet cutters, etc.
I am not in favour of parents who helicopter their kids day and night, but a cold and unresponsive mother will deprive her child from strong psychological and emotional development. The more stimuli you provide in early years, the stronger will be the cognition and response later on. Make wise choices and select good exposure, while your children are small, as it will facilitate their development into better Muslims.