How to Teach Your Child to Use their Right Hand While Eating
Inside: As part of the Islamic Manners for Children Series, We discuss how to teach your child to use their right hand to eat.
Muslims eat with their right hand. We give preference to doing all good things like eating, drinking, putting on clothes or dressing up, brushing, combing… all the ‘good’ stuff with our right hand. But while using the toilet, cleaning ourselves, blowing our nose or stuff like that, we use our left hand. We give preference to the right side while doing all pleasant things like entering a place or sleeping but while leaving the loo or undressing, we start from the left.
Have you ever wondered why?
In the Prophet’s times, there was not much knowledge about bacteria and transmission of disease. People used to eat with their hands. When they went for nature’s call, they would clean themselves with stones and water. Amidst those conditions, think about what would happen if you mixed up the hands while eating and drinking. Cleaning yourselves with the same hand and eating with it too. Sounds disgusting..? Well… yeah. That’s the reason.
Even in today’s times when you eat and drink and go about our business, don’t you think it seems proper etiquette to shake a person’s hand with your right?
Eating and drinking with left hand is the habit of the Satan; this is clarified by the following Hadith: “When any one of you eats, let him eat with his right hand, and when he drinks, let him drink with his right hand, because the Satan eats with his left hand and drinks with his left hand.” (Reported by Muslim).
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Aishah, may Allah be pleased with her, quoted the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, as saying: “Whoever eats with his left hand, the Satan eats with him.” (Reported by Imam Ahmad).
Moreover, in another Hadith, the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “O young boy, say the name of Allah and eat with your right hand, and eat from what is nearest to you.” (Reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim).
So, today, discussing the letter R- R is for Right Hand, we are going to discuss this important Hadith with our children. We will help them understand that they should eat with their right hand and give preference to the right over the left in doing their day to day things. We will also remind them that they should use their left hand for toilet and blowing their nose.
This post is part of the Islamic Manners for Children Series. You can join the Ramadan 2018 series below.
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What about writing? What if my child is left handed.
One of my girls is left handed. When I did this series with her last time, she was 2 years old and just learning to hold a pencil and write. One of the reason I chose the word ‘R is for Right Hand’ instead of ‘R is for Respect’ is because I was working with her on this issue. I know many other parents have this same question.
Many parents try to force their left handed child to write with their right hand. There is even a cultural thing among some people where left handed people are looked down upon. This is wrong.
Left handed children do eat and drink with their right hand. It needs just a little training, to help them form the habit. However, writing is a different matter.
There is an excellent article that I read a few years ago, that I’d like you to read on this topic. My son is left Handed, should I change it?
Go ahead, I’ll wait. Please read the article above. 🙂
How to Teach Your Child to Use their Right Hand while Eating
Now that you know that it is okay for children to be writing with their left hand, let me help you teach your child to eat with their right.
I have a younger brother who is left handed and I have my own daughter who is 5 years old. She writes with her left and prefers it in many activities but Alhamdulillah we were able to teach her to use her right hand in eating and doing the things where she should follow the Sunnah. Here is what we did.
Method 1. – The Sticker/Star Method.
Place a sticker or draw a star on his/her right hand. You can also put a watch or bangle on their arm but kids usually take it off so we haven’t been successful with it. The star idea worked very well.
Just draw a star and remind your child that they have to use that to eat. When putting on clothes, brushing their teeth or combing their hair they have to use their right hand. This visual reminder helps children to learn very fast.
Of course, you may find that you will have to remind them for some years (till age 6 or longer) and sometimes they will give preference to left while brushing or combing because that is easier for them. It is okay…. if it is very difficult don’t force it.
I have also found that left handed children need help with learning to hold their spoon, brush or comb. My daughter is almost 6 years old but even now I sometime find her holding her spoon in an awkward manner. It makes her left-handedness so clearly stand out that even strangers ask if she is a leftie. 🙂
I hope this was helpful.
Method 2. What hand makes an ‘L’ shape.
Did you know that if you spread out your hand, the index finger and thumb finger form the letter L? 🙂
I didn’t know. My son taught his sisters this method. It worked so good with even my youngest who is right-handed but mixes up her left and right sides. Try it. It’s fun.
Even normal kids need reminders to use their righthand and right side. You can discuss the Hadith with them. Last time we did the Manners, we made a few handprints on a big piece of paper. I asked them to pick out the right hand from it and show me which one we used for eating, going to toilet, putting on clothes, shaking hands etc. It turned out to be a fun game.
Hope these ideas help you teach your child about R is for Right hand. Do tell me in the comments how you taught your children.
Hi there – very helpful post. I haven’t been able to find this anywhere else on the web.
My 2 yr old child uses utensils and eats with both with her left hand . Other than the star/sticker method, what else would you recommend? Also, at what age do you encouraging the change to eat with right hand vs left?