Most parents want the best for their children and ensure they cultivate good habits. However, being a parent is never an easy task. Every parent, at some point in their lives, feels overwhelmed by their responsibilities and even doubts themselves if they’re raising their children correctly.
Allah the Almighty has given every individual the responsibility to educate our offspring. We have to paint the blank canvas with good moral values, good habits, essential Islamic beliefs, and rightful knowledge that could encourage them to contribute to the community, society, and nation at large. As stated in the hadith below about a Muslim’s responsibility:
‘Abdallah b. ‘Umar reported God’s Messenger as saying, “Each of you is a shepherd and each of you is responsible for his flock. The imam who is over the people is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock; a man is a shepherd in charge of the inhabitants of his household and he is responsible for his flock; a woman is a shepherdess in charge of her husband’s house and children and she is responsible for them, and a man’s slave is a shepherd in charge of his master’s property and he is responsible for it. So each of you is a shepherd and each of you is responsible for his flock.” [Bukhari and Muslim]
Hence, let us jump into the ten essential good habits all parents can teach their children to inculcate in their daily lives. These good habits can be categorized as general good habits and religious habits imperative to strengthen the foundation of their Islamic beliefs.
10 ESSENTIAL GOOD HABITS YOU SHOULD TEACH YOUR CHILD:
1. Sharing is Caring!
Sharing is definitely a good habit you want to teach your child to avoid conflicts and confrontations with their peers. According to Jean Piaget on her child’s developmental theory, most children at an early age typically possess egocentrism. Egocentrism means the child’s inability to see from other people’s points of view. They assume everyone feels what the child feels, and it is essential to slowly nurture the importance of giving and sharing with others so they can feel what others feel instead.
For instance, if your child throws a tantrum when someone takes away their favourite toy, you teach them deep breathing so they can calm down. Once they are calm but still feel discomfort, you lovingly approach them, ask how they are feeling and why they feel so. Justify why it’s important to give and share things with others. Sharing is a good habit our children should learn from young.
2. Clean Up the Mess!
One of the good habits you have to instil in your child is cleanliness! Cleanliness is half of the deen, and it must be taught to our children from early on. If you are not an organised person, it is best to start now when your child is young.
Remember, children imitate what we do. If they’re grown in an unorganised environment, they will think it’s A-Okay to make a mess! So, start organising things around your kids like their toys, books, clothes and more. Once they get used to seeing their toys in an orderly fashion, they will feel the urge to keep things that way too. Once they’ve matured, you can help them and provide some spare time for them to clean up the mess.
3. Eat Healthy!
One of the difficult good habits to inculcate is for our children to eat healthy. Our kids rarely say NO to a chicken nugget or chocolate bar. However, if they see some weird leafy greens laying on their plate, they will have second thoughts about eating it. One of the ways to cultivate a good habit of healthy eating is to make it colourful. Throw some green vegetables, perhaps some red capsicums and yellow bell peppers to spruce up the plate. Vibrant colours often entice your children to eat more.
Another thing all parents must take heed is the cooking techniques. Some kids don’t like vegetables because oftentimes, it is overcooked, mushy and unappetizing to look at. The way you cook leafy greens matter most to retain the crunchy texture and essential nutrition. Did you know that you could lose all the nutritional benefits if you overcook vegetables? Make healthy eating a good habit to nurture your child’s physical and mental development, InshaAllah.
4. Read on a Daily Basis!
We’re all guilty of putting down our books and never getting back to it due to time constraints or lack of motivation. However, reading is actually one of the best essential habits we should nurture in our children as it enhances their self-esteem, reading skills, imagination, vocabulary, and creativity. Begin from young by reading them bedtime stories, or create a mini library! Get used to reading books in front of them so they can imitate your good habits.
5. Be Responsible for Money!
Some spoiled children would ask for every toy on the shelf. If you can’t buy it for them, they would throw a tantrum in the middle of the store, raging in anger and dissatisfaction. This means that a child doesn’t understand the concept of money and the importance of being responsible for money. Although they don’t own any money yet, they should learn to understand how money works and how to spend it wisely.
What parents can do to help their children cultivate a good habit of saving money and being responsible for it is to provide a budget for them to spend. Keep a piggy bank for them to save extra money so they can learn the concept of investment. If they learn to save at least one dollar a day, they can be rewarded with something huge at the end of the month!
6. Teach Your Children to Pray!
Allah’s Messenger (S) said: “Teach the boy Salat when he is seven years old, and beat him (if he does not pray) when he is ten.” [Jami’ at-Tirmidhi]
Praying is an obligatory habit all Muslims have to do, so it is essential to start teaching your children this good habit from young. The best age you can teach your child to pray, as per the hadith mentioned above, is seven years of age.
Of course, some parents encourage their children to begin early, but it’s important to note that children are already learning the concept of prayer by observing their parents! Get them involved by praying in congregation. Although they would be teasing you, running around in circles during prayer, it’s important to get them involved in the practice of praying so they become familiar with it.
Another essential point to note is the phrase ‘beat him’ from the hadith aforementioned by all means do not define abuse. A parent should never beat or punish their child at all cost. As mentioned in the hadith below, parents should treat their children fairly, with love and respect.
An-Nu’man bin Bashir delivered a Khutbah and said: “The Messenger of Allah said: ‘Treat your children fairly, treat your children fairly.'” [Sunan an-Nasa’i]
7. Helping Others!
Are good morals considered good habits? It can be so if you expose your children to the opportunity of helping others from a young age. One of the things that makes children so unmotivated in helping others is the lack of recognition and acknowledgement for their effort.
At a young age, they want to feel loved and validated by their parents, so it’s important that you elicit a positive response to their effort if they help you out. If a task becomes ‘forced’, it makes them unlikely to help you, just like how you would feel if a person forces you.
Teach them the significance of doing good and helping others. Tell them how it makes other people feel when they help them. Teach them the right way to ease the burden of others. Islam also mentions the importance of helping others:
Abu Hurairah (RA) narrated that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “Whoever relieves a Muslim of a burden from the burdens of the world, Allah will relieve him of a burden from the burdens on the Day of Judgement. And whoever helps ease a difficulty in the world, Allah will grant him ease from a difficulty in the world and in the Hereafter. And whoever covers (the faults of) a Muslim, Allah will cover (his faults) for him in the world and the Hereafter. And Allah is engaged in helping the worshipper as long as the worshipper is engaged in helping his brother.” [Jami’ at-Tirmidhi]
8. Teach Patience and Perseverance!
It is fairly normal for children to cry and throw tantrums at a young age, but as they grow, parents should learn how to cultivate patience and perseverance as a good habit for them to practice.
Teach your children to do deep breathing exercises, keep them calm by being calm yourself, and be a good listener to them. Ask them about their feelings, why they react a certain way and be there for them. This will allow them to feel at peace though it will take a moment to get used to it.
Another way you can teach your child patience is by encouraging them to participate in activities that require patience. Like cooking, gardening, building Legos and more, these activities will teach them that results do not come instantly, and patience is most certainly required. Islam also mentions about the merits of patience:
Abu Sa’id and Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (ﷺ) said: “Never a believer is stricken with a discomfort, an illness, an anxiety, a grief or mental worry or even the pricking of a thorn but Allah will expiate his sins on account of his patience”. [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
9. Teach About Gratitude!
Everyone needs gratitude in their life to feel happy and content, and this value needs to be imbued as a good habit for our children to practice daily. Although gratitude is quite a complex concept for children to learn at a young age, it can be simplified at their level of maturity.
Before putting them to bed, you can ask them simple questions like “What makes you happy today?” or “Do you think you’re happy where you are now?” and so on. Listen to their responses and you might be surprised. If they didn’t respond positively, perhaps you can talk to them more about it and open an honest conversation about it. The most important thing here is to allow them to communicate their feelings as they are just as human as us.
“If you are grateful, I would certainly give you more; and if you are ungrateful, My chastisement is truly severe.” [Qur’an 14:7]
10. Teach Them About Honesty!
Honesty is definitely a difficult habit to practice for anyone at all. Some lie to save themselves, avoid hurting others and some lie for selfish reasons. The first step to teaching honesty is being honest yourself. Avoid telling lies, especially white lies. Children can sense if you’re lying and they will definitely have a bad impression on you if you’re caught lying.
Another thing you should be aware of is your response to your child’s truth. Most children are afraid to tell the truth because they don’t want you to respond negatively. They avoid as much confrontation as possible if you’re angry or disappointed in them.
Instead of getting angry, which is very difficult to do sometimes, parents should remain calm and praise them for their honesty. Ask them how they can fix the problem to make it better so they become problem-solvers instead of running away from problems.
These are just a few of the good habits we believe all parents should instill in their children. There are many more, and it takes practice and patience to learn what we can teach our children, and in turn, teach ourselves. Parenting does not only affect our children, but it affects our maturity as well. May Allah Almighty guide us all to become good role models for our children, InshaAllah.