Growing up I knew prayer was an important way to show devotion. But only as an adult did I understand the mental health benefits of prayer.
David H. Rosmarin, assistant professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School and director of the Spirituality and Mental Health Program at McLean Hospital, in Belmont, Mass. shared with the Association of Psychological Science, “the research that has been done on prayer shows it may have similar benefits to meditation: It can calm your nervous system, shutting down your fight or flight response. It can make you less reactive to negative emotions and less angry.” And he goes a step further to say spiritual prayer (praying to God) vs secular prayer (affirmations) is more beneficial to mental health.
In this chaotic world, prayer is a gift I can pass down to my children. Unfortunately, praying with my children is the greatest test in focus. I remember a folktale from my childhood, a man in the forest could only turn dirt to gold if he had intense focus and didn’t pay attention to the monkeys, as he churned the mud. My children are those monkeys. So I set out to make them understand and love Salah.
Changing Chaos to Calm
To help them understand their mindset during prayer time, we made mindfulness jars. The tornado of glitter represented them before prayer, and the settling glitter represented their behavior during prayer.
Children’s Books About Salah and Duas
I highly recommend these two books from Zainab Mian, “How To Pray” and “Duas for Kids” they are a great overview. Crescent Moon Book Store is a great source for these title, as well.
My Salah Mat
This prayer mat is fun, interactive, and totally captured the attention of my five year old and seven year old. It’s super high tech! The mat is touch sensitive and has pre-recorded keys that teach prayer times, how to do wudu, recite surahs, say duas, etc. When the knees, hands, and head touch the proper parts on the mat, kids will hear the sound related to that part of prayer. At first I was a bit intimidated about how to use it, but it comes with a parent manual and nice activity books for kids.
My kids gave it 5 stars! You can find out more at https://www.mysalahmat.com/.
In full disclosure, we received our prayer mat as a gift.
In Islam, it is encouraged to have children start daily prayer at seven years old. Many modern Muslims throw a prayer party, a celebration of this new stage in life. Books, prayer mats, tasbeehs, and hijabs are often gifted to mark the occasion.
Teach Them Why
Even at a small age, children want to know why things are important. If they don’t understand why, then it’s just a ritual without meaning. I wrote “Learning About Allah for Small Children” to share how I taught my children about Allah (s.w.t).
At this age, my children love prayer time, because it’s family time, its one peaceful moment we take as a family, without our devices, or distractions.
Peace & Salam,