Gratitude is the key to happiness in this world: to be thankful for all that you have, and do not have. To be content with the Will of Allah, and trust in His Divine wisdom.
Allah tells us in the Holy Quran:
“And [remember] when your Lord proclaimed, ‘If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]; but if you deny, indeed, My punishment is severe.’ ” [14.7]
The importance of Shukr, which can also be translated as gratitude, is illustrated in this famous hadith:
“Aisha (RA) said: “When the Messenger of Allah (SAW) prayed, he would stand for so long that his feet would become swollen. Aisha said: O Messenger of Allah, are you doing this when Allah has forgiven your past and future sins? He said: “O Aisha, should I not be a thankful slave?” [Bukhaari (4557) and Muslim (2820)]
Modern science has noticed a phenomenon, where those who have a more positive outlook on life (i.e. show more gratitude), tend to attract more opportunities and be more successful. Research from R.A.Emmons and M.E. McCullogh proved that grateful people had higher levels of positive emotions, life satisfaction, and lower levels of depression and stress.
So if learning to be grateful, will ensure my children’s happiness, then how can we teach them to be grateful? How can we give them a more positive outlook on life and develop the habit of Shukr within them?
Here are our 5 ways to Foster Shukr in our Children.
1) Give them your time
The most powerful way to show your child that you love them, is to give them your undivided attention for a period of time. This example of love and empathy, will make a lasting impression on your children. Feeling empathy, the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person, is the first step in fostering gratitude in your kids. When they can understand what it would be like without those blessings, then they can feel gratitude.
2) Less Exposure to Media
The media has an enormous impact upon young minds. Many children’s TV channels, bombard their young viewers with advertisement after advertisement, with the sole aim of inciting discontent in their hearts. Before watching the adverts, they were happy with the toys and games they had; but now, having seen so many “better” things, they no longer feel the gratitude they once had, and want more. Limiting how much screen-time you family has, will massively improve their wellbeing and encourage a more positive outlook.
3) Encourage Giving
The giving gifts and food to those in need, is a great way to nurture gratitude in young children. Even more powerful, is to have your children serve others with their own personal talents or strengths. This personal connection is a potent way to foster gratitude and one that they will never forget. An example of this may be asking your child to paint for an elderly relative, or repair something for the neighbour.
4) Exercises in Gratitude
For younger children, we would recommend you take some time with your children before bed, to make duaa and ask them to thank Allah (SWT) for something They can simply say “Thank you Allah for my new toy,” or “Alhumdulillah for my mummy!” By beginning this habit at a young age, you will establish a valuable habit of self-reflection that will benefit them throughout their lives insha’Allah.
If you children are a little older, you could make a gratitude tree, writing something they are grateful for each day on a new leaf.
They can also keep a gratitude journal, giving them an opportunity to think over their day and encourage gratitude in their hearts. We love this gratitude journal by Ayeina.com:
5) Teach them their heritage
Learning the history of their family, brings to life the struggles of men and women from the past. Creating an emotional attachment to history encourages emotions of empathy and gratitude in our children. When they hear about how their grandparents had nothing to eat in the war, or how their great grand-parents lived poverty on their small farm, they will begin to feel more concern for others in that situation and grateful to Allah (SWT) for all they have.
Gratitude and empathy go hand-in-hand. If you can teach your child one, they will develop the other insha’Allah.
These were our 5 Ways to Foster Shukr in Your Children.
Do you think young people today often feel entitled and ungrateful?
What is it about modern society that is encouraging our young to lack empathy and fail to appreciate what they have?
How do you address this problem in your family?
Please share your opinions and thoughts in the comments section below.