Sin is a difficult concept to understand for little children, whose worlds revolve around themselves and their wants and needs. For little children, everything they want comprises of good, and everything that they dislike is bad. It’s as simple as black and white for them.
There are many different words used in the Quran for sin, each having different connotations. However, for children sin can be categorized broadly in two ways:
- Firstly, there are the sins that are done intentionally, and the sins that are done unintentionally (that is shortcomings in fulfilling Allah’s (swt) commands).
- Secondly, there are the big sins (such as lying, backbiting, slander) and the minor sins.
Children, of course, are not accountable for sins till they are Baligh (the age of maturity which sets in at the time of puberty or when the child reaches the age of fifteen years). However, it is important to inculcate a sense of good and bad from the very beginning and to help them become conscious of their choices. This will make them aware of their mistakes early on and help them to guard their deeds, when their accountability begins.
Here are some easy ideas for introducing the concept of sin to children:
Activity: What is Sin?
If lying can save someone from punishment, it doesn’t seem very wrong in the eyes of a child. We must realize that to a child sin doesn’t always look bad. For helping children understand it, try this out:
Offer your kids a cup of juice but make it with salt instead of sugar. Allow them to drink and express their disgust. Ask them:
- What’s wrong with the juice?
- It looks just like normal juice; are you sure it’s not okay?
- How can it be bad, if it looks okay?
- Talk to them that Shaytan tricks us in the same way with sin. It looks great on the outside but it’s actually something that is really bad!
Activity: Big and Little Sin
Cover the floor with newspaper and have your child stand on a chair to drop two oranges or apples from the same height at the same time. Observe what happens. Now have your child drop an orange and a grape from the same height at the same time. Observe that they hit the floor at the same time, as gravity pulls things at the same rate, even if they are not the same size. Explain that sins are sins, whether they are big or small! We need to not do anything that displeases Allah (swt) regardless if it is big or small!
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