Ramadan fasting can be difficult for children. It is the job of every parent to make a determination whether their child is ready to fast. Some children are ready when they are seven years old while others need more time. Each parent knows their child’s health as well. However, parents should not assume that if they do not emphasize fasting that their children will do it when they are older. Ramadan fasting should be introduced at some point and the sooner the better.
Here are some ideas on introducing fasting to your children.
Generally, between ages 7 and 9, it is possible to start your child on fasting at a gradual level. At first, you can encourage them to fast until 10 am and have them get up with the early morning Sahoor and have them participate in the Fajr prayer. The time can be increased until Zuhr and until the Asr prayer. Encourage them along the way and compliment their on their strength.
An important factor is to success is instilling the child’s desire to fast. Positive reinforcement can go a long way. Do not ridicule your child if they have a difficult time. That will only make them angry with you and with the teachings of Islam. Praise them. Encouragement them and even buy them gifts for a successful week.
You can also encourage them by educating about Islam. Show them that their peers are fasting and take them to the mosque where they can see other children who are fasting and praying as well.
Last, understand that children will cheat. After all, they are children. Do not punish them for lying and breaking their fast. Instead, try the following:
1. Give them allowance for each day they successfully fast.
2. Don’t confront them when they make a mistake. Instead, remind the importance of their fast and telling the truth, especially in Ramadan.
3. Do not expect small children to fast the entire day.
4. When you child fasts, praise him and allow others to hear such praise, such as other family members or their peers.
5. Do not place food or sweets in a place that easily tempts the child.
6. Create a religious and celebratory atmosphere in your home. Your children need to understand what an important month Ramadan is.
I hope this Ramadan is a memorable and long-lasting experience for you and your children! Inshallah!