After refusing to bow to Adam, Shaitaan said:
“Then I will come to them from before them and from behind them and on their right and on their left, and You will not find most of them grateful . [Qur’an – 7:17]
Scary, isn’t it? With the world moving forward each day, it’s becoming more and more common to fall into an ungrateful attitude in our overindulgent culture. And millennials are affected most by this storm. So what do we do? How do we save our kids from becoming one of those ungrateful ones?
Sometimes they complain to relieve stress, sometimes to solve the problem, sometimes as a habit, sometimes to get attention…But how do YOU as a parent break this negative cycle?
1) Be a Positive Role Model
The first step to changing kids’ behavior is being good role models. Role modeling is hard because kids imitate everything. From your emotions to your words, your actions to your inaction. They hear us when we vent about first-world problems. They listen to us when we compare ourselves to our peers. And as scary as changing yourself for the kids is, seeing them flourish because of the changes you brought in your life has no match 💞 Set an example by saying JazakAllah khair (may Allah reward you with good) to your kids often (it’s basically a dua).
Are you thinking: “Should I thank kids for doing things they should be doing anyway?” Yes. Because that’s the difference between entitlement and gratitude. Perhaps they think the same – that all the things you’re doing for them is what you SHOULD be doing anyway. Reinforce what you say with what you do and vice versa. Saying JazakAllah (or Jazakillah in case of a girl) is a great way to reinforce a positive behavior.
2) Fill out a Gratitude Journal together
Be it #AlhamdulillahForSeries gratitude journal for Muslims or any simple diary that you can turn into a shukr journal. Start with basic necessities, then move onto relationships, then spirituality – connecting their gratitude with Allah, then letting them take the reigns on creating their special checklist of blessings 💞. A running inventory of the “good things” reminds kids of all that they are grateful for. If you do it consistently, you’ll see a difference in shaa Allah. As one mother said: “I am filling the journal with my daughter. She’s even started to say Alhamdulillah for little things in life that would bother her otherwise. She started keeping in mind what would happen if we didn’t have that particular thing. Honestly, it’s making me grateful too!”
3) Expose them to diversity
If you & your kids are constantly spending time among people who are equal or better in terms of finances/status etc. Chances are slim that you will develop the kind of empathy & gratitude that you can develop by spending time among people who are from different backgrounds & experiences. If there’s no diverse community around you, try reading books about people’s differences, cultures and uniqueness or volunteer at local food banks, orphanage, pet shelters and non-profit events etc.
4) Promote minimalism (simplicity) and mindfulness
They help kids stay more focused and more focus means more reflection and self awareness of what THEY have. I know it is fun to see the excitement when you buy your children gifts, but when we are constantly buying things for our kids for no reason, it gives them the impression that they are entitled to them. Less exposure to ads etc. (especially if they are targeted towards kids) can help as well – something that usually diverts the focus to consumerism. Because the hadith says: “Look to one who is lower than you, and do not look to one who is above you. For indeed that is more worthy(so that you will) not belittle Allah’s favors upon you.” (Tirmidhi)
5) Express gratitude to people (Write thank you notes)
Let them write appreciative letters to important people in their lives. Acknowledging the feelings on paper makes them more conscious and concrete. Thank those who serve them in any way. Could be the nanny, the teacher, the parent, the bus driver, the maid, the cleaner, the neighbour, the relative etc. Kids sometimes have the belief that people ‘should’ do things for them, so it’s helpful to point out that people’s kind deeds are often done out of the goodness of their hearts.
6) Teach them the concept of Sadaqah
The best way for all of us to feel grateful may be to give, rather than to get. Involve yourself & kids in charity. Especially volunteering with your presence. This will not only expose the kids to those who are less fortunate but will also help them know that charity doesn’t require “having” loads all the time. Sadaqah is so much more than money. Sadaqah is even a smile, a good word etc.
7) Shukr crafts & activities
Because fun ways of teaching appreciation of little things matters 💜 Following are some of the ideas to try:
A shukr jar works like this; each member of the family writes down one thing they are grateful for (aim for every day but a couple times a week works too), drops the note in the jar and at the end of the year you pull everyone’s notes out and read them aloud. Perhaps try doing it in Ramadan so the special month feels even more special.
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Positive mood board
Gratitude Calendar (ideal Ramadan activity with kids)
As Asmaa Hussein stated: “Every day, you and your children will each take a pre-cut piece of leaf/flower-shaped paper and write one thing that you are grateful to God for, big or small…oxygen, froot loops, eyesight, peanut butter, autumn, new shoes, etc. Then, tape the pieces of paper onto the branches of the tree that you have set up. It’s a simple act that will take less than a minute per day.
Over time and as you incorporate this small act of thankfulness into your family’s day, you’ll watch the tree grow and blossom. Likewise, having a visual reminder of how full your home is of gratitude for big and little things can allow the gratitude in your and your children’s hearts to grow and blossom. The act of writing down the things you are grateful for will naturally increase your satisfaction with what you have. And the presence of the tree will serve as a constant reminder to your children that their lives are full of blessings.”
How do YOU teach thankfulness to your children? Tag your shukr crafts with #AlhamdulillahForSeries & get featured on the blog iA 🦋