At what age should children be taught the concept/idea "Hell"?

Details of the Question
At what age should children be taught the concept/idea "Hell"?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Children should always  be told about the idea of Paradise up to the age of puberty.

However, when they reach the age of puberty, when they can discriminate between the good and the bad, they should be told that evil people and oppressors will be accounted for what they do and that there is a prison called Hell. Thus, it is stated that those who are oppressed and wronged will get their due. 

Children start to wonder about death and ask questions about it beginning from the age of 3. They can ask questions like, “What does death mean?”, “Where do the dead go?”

Death can be taught to children together with the idea of Paradise : “Those who die go to Paradise, which is a very beautiful place. There are houses made of glass and chocolate in Paradise. There are huge parks and funfairs there. There are pools and seas of milk and fruit juice. Allah gives a person who goes to Paradise whatever he wants.” This explanation will relieve children.

Children start to be aware of the realities more when they are between 6 and 12. Children can be aware of the difference between body and spirit especially after the ages of 9 and 10.  However, this awareness does not mean that they can definitely distinguish between body and spirit.

In this period, we can mention that man stops breathing, that his heart stops beating and that he cannot move when he dies along with mentioning Paradise.

In this period, it is time to mention the concept Hell along with Paradise. You can easily tell the children at this age that those who do good deeds will go to Paradise and that those who do bad deeds will go to Hell.  

Abstract thought has not developed fully in the children of this age; therefore, they might not understand abstract concepts in the same way as adults do.   

At the age of 12, abstract thought has developed fully. The children of this age can understand death with all of its dimensions like adults. The difference between body and spirit, the fact that sins and good deeds will cause man to go to Hell and Paradise, the existence of the Day of Judgment and Allah are perceived better in this period.    

It is appropriate to talk to a child about death after the death of a person and to share our feelings about the dead person with the child. Many people think that talking about death will harm the child.

What is appropriate is to ask the child what he feels, to share our feelings with him and to answer his questions. If we do not do so, the child will think that death is something bad that is concealed and he can show an exaggerated response to death.

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