Happy Ramadan! Welcome to day 1 of the #A-ZofAkhlaaq series. This Ramadan, I am posting a series for children to help teach them manners and morals using the alphabets. Today is the first day and we are talking about Akhlaaq and what manners mean.
We all want to teach our children to be better mannered. We want them to be respectful, well groomed, little angels. Have you ever asked yourself this question: Why do you want your children to be well mannered? Why do we want our children to have good morals and manners? The reason I am asking this question is because, in order for us to teach our children to behave better and be better mannered in front of the world, we need to be able to tell them why we want our kids to behave that way. I don’t know if your kids have asked you but my children, if I ask them to behave they will turn around and ask me why. Why should they pray. Why should they sneeze into their elbow … what’s wrong with letting the clothes lie on the floor… they want to know the reason behind everything. Really ::everything::!
So now, before you sit them down to talk about mending their manners, or before you start the conversation about Akhlaaq, let us talk about Akhlaaq ourselves and how better can we take the idea to them.
For me, when I hear the word Akhlaaq, it equals the person’s looks. When someone tell me that a certain person had good Akhlaaq, what I understand is that he looks good, behaves well, can be trusted to do good and is worthy of friendship. He really is valuable. Knowing him is like owning a gem! This is what I want from my kids too. I want them to be little gems who can be trusted to go out and do good. They will be helpful little heroes. They will be valuable. When people hear of them or meet them, they should be happy to know them.
That said, I wanted to start this series with them and I wanted to involve them everyday for the next month. They had to cooperate or this wouldn’t be successful. My purpose was to involve them into Ramadan. I wanted to let them have some spiritual time to spend with me without us going totally insane. I wanted some fun and learning but under the Ramadan theme. I also wanted that it be something they relate too. It had to be ‘Joy’… the spirit of Ramadan.
I have been preparing my children for Ramadan for a few weeks now. We have been talking about ways that they can be involved with me. I’ve told them that although they were too young to fast there were other ways to enjoy Ramadan. My toddlers didn’t understand much except that something interesting was about to happen but my eldest was really eager and ready to cooperate.
We went to look at the books in our personal library. We have quite a few books on Ramadan but what caught our eye was A To Z of Akhlaaq: Moral Values for Children by Nafees Khan. We have read this book a few times but before now, I don’t think he really understood it. The book is like a little a-z song actually. There isn’t much explanation but it is a good conversation starter. This book is perfect for introducing manners to little toddlers and preschoolers. I have read it to my almost three year old daughter and she loves it. It has improved her vocabulary too. (She remarked the other day that her brother was ‘backbiting!) 😂
I went searching at our local library and found that A-Zof Akhlaaq had a companion book called All About Akhlaaq (A Fun Way to Learn and Practice Moral Values of Islam). This book had short skits for the kids to either act out or use as stories. This is for the older kids but it occurred to me that my children would like to have more activities around the words. Children learn better by doing than by reading or listening. Sometimes a lesson that they learn by watching an experiment or crafting a model is better remembered. So… here we are.
We started our day 1 a few days ago. I have used a plastic bags to teach him what manners mean to people. Here is our conversation and how I directed it to understanding why Akhlaaq are important and what manners really mean.
The Gift Bag – What Manners Mean
What you need:
- A grocery bag
- A used packet or bread bag
- A gift bag
- Something sticky to soil the bags with. We used jam.
How to proceed:
I started by asking my seven year old to get me 3 plastic bags. One that is appropriate for throwing trash. Another that I could bring home groceries in and the third for putting a gift for someone in. They all had to be plastic but they could be any size.
I laid out the bags side by side and then asked him to tell me what bag was suitable for throwing trash in. He had bought an empty bread bag.
I asked him if he had anything for bringing home groceries in. He had a grocery bag.
I asked him for something to put a gift in. He had a heavier floral print one.
Next I told him that I would put some jam into each of the bags. What would happen?
He said it would get sticky.
Would he still use the gift bag for his gift?
Would he use the grocery bag to bring home groceries?
Would he use the bread bag to throw trash?
Yes. He said it wouldn’t matter as he was throwing trash anyway.
I asked him what if I tore the bottom of the trash bag? Would he still be able to throw his trash in it?
No. The bag was trash too. It would be totally useless.
What if the grocery bag was torn or the gift bag? Would he use it?
No. They are useless.
I asked him if those bags weren’t damaged , would I bring home groceries in the trash bag? He laughed.
Would I gift someone in a trash bag?
Of course not. That was even more hilarious!
Would I throw trash in a gift bag?
He said I could but he wouldn’t. It is too pretty. I could use the grocery bag for trash.
I asked him what he learnt from that. He didn’t really know.
I told him that although those bags were made of the same material (plastic), they were all different. They were all valued based on how they looked. He chose to gift in a strong pretty bag. He could use the strong but ordinary looking bag for groceries. The bread bag was too shabby and useless not worthy of being trusted to hold anything valuable so we chose to throw trash in it.
It is the same way with people. Manners is what people hold inside them. You look good because of them. It becomes your self worth too. If you keep yourself tidy, talk nicely and are trust worthy it shows.
The gift bag looks nice; it is clean; it is pretty. That is what we need to be like. If you receive it, it will make you happy. You will want to treasure it. It is a gift.
The bread bag, after you have used it once, You want to throw it away. You wouldn’t care if it held anything valuable in it too. You wouldn’t even trust it to hold that.
My son was really moved by our little talk. He is already a well behaved little boy (most of the times) but I know he will remember this story. Would you use this idea to talk to your children about manners? Come on and tell me what you think in the comments or on my Facebook page.