Teaching Small Children the Value of Privacy

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By Hanan Zayn

Small children are innocent. As a consequence, they are in many ways unable to differentiate between the various pieces ofdo not disturb information they receive – like what is alright to make public and what must be kept private. In the course of their development, they learn discretion, but until they do, their sweet and adorable innocence can cause a lot of difficulties and embarrassment for their parents. This is because they can easily speak to outsiders about the most private and delicate of family matters.

It is important to teach children the value of privacy at an early age. They need to be made aware that some things are private and must be kept secret.

To begin with, parents need to be vigilant and learn to keep certain things private. Adults should not discuss certain things in front of their children, especially problems that the mother and father might be having. Even talking on the phone in front of the children is a bad idea, when the matter is a private family issue that should not be made known to the general public. At a very young age, small children are simply unable to differentiate between what is private and what is not.

As children grow older, a respect for privacy needs to be instilled in them. They need to have a sense of the home as a private domain. This is especially important when the children begin to attend school. But how can this be achieved?

Children are receptive to visual comparisons. For instance: “This house we live in shields us from the outside world. Would we be able to sit in it like we do if it had no walls? Would we be able to sit at the table and have our dinner with everyone outside looking in on us?” In this way, we can introduce the concept of privacy to young minds and encourage our children to identify with their home and family. From this point of departure, we can teach our children about the need to keep family and personal matters a secret from the general public.

The next stage is to help the child develop a full understanding of privacy and its practical dimensions. This begins by teaching the child to ask permission before entering a room.

Allah directs us in the Qur’an to teach this to our children: “O you who believe! Have your servants and those of you who have not attained to puberty ask permission of you at three times: before the morning prayer, and when you put off your clothes at midday in summer, and after the prayer of the nightfall. These are three times of privacy for you; neither is it a sin for you nor for them besides these, some of you must go round about (waiting) upon others; thus does Allah make clear to you the communications, and Allah is Knowing, Wise.” [Sūrah al-Nūr: 58]

In this verse, Allah commands us to teach our children who have not reached puberty to ask permission before entering a room at three times of the day. The first is before the prayer when people are usually asleep in their beds. The second is midday where in many cultures people take a siesta and may be in their rooms resting in a state of undress. The third is at night, also a time of rest and sleep.

These are three times where a child might walk into the parents’ bedroom and find the parents in a compromising situation.

Because of the needs of small children, the Qur’an only commands parents to teach them to seek permission at these three times. When they are older, they must follow Islam’s teachings to seek permission at any time before entering a private room.

“And when the children among you come to puberty then let them ask permission even as those before them used to ask it. Thus Allah makes clear His revelations for you. Allah is All-Knowing, Wise.” [Sūrah al-Nūr: 59]

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Disclaimer: All material found on 4themuslims.com is for information purposes only. The maintainers do not necessarily share any of the views expressed on 4themuslims.com or on linked sites.

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