As muslim moms we all want our kids to develop the habit of praying 5 times a day. It brings a great joy and fulfillment every time you see your kids praying salah on their own. You heart finds peace knowing that you were able to accomplish a great responsibility as a parent alhamdulillah
But instilling the habit in your kids to pray is not easy. This challenge comes with many questions, like- ” Why do I need to pray, I do good deeds already”? There are endless distractions- ” I was learning something on YouTube and I forgot to pray”. And then there are myriad challenges – ” Aunt Mei doesn’t pray either…..”.
So here are 5 ways to get kids pray regularly insha Allah-
1. Role model-
Sh. Salman al-Odah was asked, “How do you get your kids to love the salah?” His reply? “Have them love you.”
The best way to get your kids to learn anything is to connect with them early on so that they love to emulate you. Your kids learn from you by watching and observing you. They want to be like you. So pray the way you want your kids to pray- on time, with love and care. They will notice your love for prayer, especially when you repeat it 5 times a day and will want to do the same like you. Take great care of your prayers, learn about the rules and prayers of our Prophet (Muhammad) (sa). Take small but consistent steps to improve your prayer so your kids have a great start in their prayer insha Allah,
2. Start early-
You want to inculcate a love for praying before praying becomes mandatory on your kids. Invite them to pray with you as soon as they can join you, even it it means they stay for a little while or leaves only after a few minutes. Be patient as you encourage them to pray with you. Give them their own little prayer mat, prayer beads, kufi, hijab etc. You develop a habit of praying when you start praying with your kids when they are still little.This habit helps them later as they have been practicing it already and makes the transition smooth when salah is incumbent on them.
3. Make it special-
Make it special when praying becomes fard on your kids. Give Your kids their own prayer mat, a prayer outfit or special hijab, kufi etc. You can make prayer beads with them, make a hijab or crochet/knit a kufi to make all memorable. You can invite their friends and have a little party to celebrate and then pray together.
4. Pray together
The transition from offering voluntary, occasional prayers to consistently praying 5 times a day can be challenging for a lot of kids. You can make it easy by praying together with your child as many times as you can. Especially if your child is having a hard time with the time/s of certain prayer/s or struggling to remember the rules of prayers. Praying together takes care of the stress for both of you that you may be feeling around salah times.
5. Triggers for the habit of praying-
Triggers are cue that signals your brain to do certain actions. If your child is struggling to pray on time, using a trigger can be helpful to be punctual and consistent with their salah. Triggers are “what you do or what occurs” before you do an action. For example, you hear your phone ring and you pick up your phone. Or, you start driving when the traffic light changes from red to green.The best triggers are what you’re doing already but be specific on time and action when you pick a trigger. Here are a few examples for triggers (in italic)-
Fajr- Alarm, baba/mama wakes up, pray as soon as you wake up if you’d missed it
Dhuhr- Before/after lunch
Asr- Before you play, before you watch something on screen
Maghrib- Before/after dinner
Isha- Before/after dinner
Your kids’ habit to pray regularly will become automated if there is a connection between the trigger and the habit. The stronger the connection the more well established will be the habit.
The key is do the “habit” as soon as the “trigger” is there, skipping or ignoring it too often won’t form a habit. Especially when there is shaitan involved here to keep you away from your prayers. So remind your kids to be diligent about the triggers and follow up. You can even give them a reward if they are able to follow through the triggers and pray consistently for 7, 14 and 21 days.
You can log it on a prayer log here-
What Not to Do-
Avoid all kinds of conflicts and don’t get caught up in arguments when it comes to prayer- be it offering the prayer correctly or practicing it timely. Be patient, be kind but firm. Yes, it’s a tall order for a parent but this attitude will make a difference in the long run insha Allah. Instead of nagging them about prayer and turning it to to a bitter event, try to come up with triggers that work or invite them to join you.
don’t look for faults-
It can be frustrating to see them making the same mistake over and over again. But choose patience and grace over complain and resentment. Instead of picking on what they didn’t do or what’s wrong, look for what’s right and praise them for their effort. Be mindful not to overpraise them though so they are not praying to please you. If they find it a challenge to remember the rules of praying – gently remind them the rules, get a book or make a chart that has pictures for visual learners, go over the steps slowly with an auditory learner and simply ask your kinesthetic learner to pray with you.
Focus on consequence not punishment–
Consequence is about the action, punishment is about the person.
Try to focus on what you can do to develop the habit of praying instead of what you should to if they don’t. If you must take steps to rectify repeated negligence, come up with a plan for consequence. The corrective action plan that you will be taking must be age appropriate, realistic and implemented promptly. The rules and consequence must be laid out in advance so your child can take preventive steps so she is not delinquent in her prayers.
Don’t give up on your kids. Don’t despair. No matter how many times they miss prayer or simply refuse to pray it altogether, choose to be kind, patient and remind them gently anyways. Don’t fall into the trap of turning your “now” into “forever”, this kind of fear is from shaitan to disconnect you from your kids.
Keep making dua as Allah(swt) is the turner of our hearts and believe that He accepts ours prayers. The Prophet (sa) said, “Allah the Most High said, ‘I am as My servant thinks (expects) I am. I am with him when he mentions Me. If he mentions Me to himself, I mention him to Myself; and if he mentions Me in an assembly, I mention him in an assembly greater than it. If he draws near to Me a hand’s length, I draw near to him an arm’s length. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him at speed.”
I pray that you benefit from these tips so you can instill the habit in your kids to pray regularly insha Allah. Please share if you have any additional tips to get our kids to pray daily on time.