Preparing Children for Ramadan Fasting


Parento want to instill in their children the spirit of Ramadan so that when fasting is eventually compulsory for the kids, they can easily manage Ramadan.

 

It seems that a child may be frightened by a declaration like, “You will not eat anything today until the sun sets.” But in many cases, the opposite is true, as many children see adults fasting during Ramadan, actually look forward to fasting. Just like every other adult activity, Ramadan fasting seems tempting because it is something that’s done by “grown ups.”

However, fasting from sunrise to sunset, is a long time for a starter and parents need to prepare their children before Ramadan fasting becomes incumbent on them. Ramadan becomes incumbent on girls and boys when they reach puberty. Therefore, Muslim families ideally begin to prepare their children for fasting before it’s required, so the task doesn’t seem quite so difficult when the time arrives.

Is My Child Ready to Fast for Ramadan?

Fasting can be tougher for some children as some kids are physically weaker than others and some are more prone to problems stemming from hypoglycemia. Children who are used to eating or munching on something often are more likely to find fasting difficult. Children who are extra active in their play may also have trouble fasting.

However, not only is it the parents’ job to determine whether their children are ready to fast but also to prepare them for fasting so that much of the above mentioned issues can be tackled with without having to compromise on Ramadan fasting. As long as a child is in good health, the child can be introduced to fasting during Ramadan.

Ramadan Fasting Can Be Made Easy For Early Starters

Between seven and nine years of age, it is possible to gradually introduce children to the Ramadan fast. Following are tips on how to make fasting more fun and encouraging for children.

  1. The most important factor is to teach the concept of Ramadan to children so that they can feel the spirit of the month. Most children learn and inherit this spirit when they see parents, older brothers and sisters, grandparents or other family members fast around them exhibiting a great sense of spirituality. When a child realizes the importance of Ramadan, she or he will automatically learn to respect it and face the challenge with bravery.
  2. It is equally important for older family members to avoid displaying their hunger or thirst in front of children. The idea of Ramadan is to build patience and to bring an end to the urge for complaining. Usually there is a sense of festivity in the home, even if the meal is simple, and that sense of enjoyment in the face of living up to Allah’s (God’s) expectations is what needs to be transferred to children.
  3. On a practical front, for first-timers during Ramadan, children can be encouraged to fast until 10:00 a.m or noon. This time barrier can be gradually increased until afternoon or early evening depending upon what the parent deems necessary.
  4. Parents can constantly remind their children of the blessings and rewards that a fasting person receives and the wisdom behind fasting.
  5. Encourage children by preparing their favorite foods when it’s time to break their fast.
  6. For the child fasting from sunrise to sunset for the first time, it is important to provide recognition for the youngster. Invite family and friends for the iftar (the Ramadan meal at sunset) and announce what a great job the child did at fasting!
  7. Give money or gifts to child fasting for the first time as a congratulatory gesture.
  8. Parents should make sure that the children are fed well at suhoor (Ramadan meal at sunrise).
  9. Treat children to their favorite food items during meals at sunrise and sunset. Ask them what they would like to eat that day.
  10. Children can be kept busy as the day progresses and hunger or thirst kicks in. It is a good idea to keep them distracted and would only be fair if candies and tempting food items are kept away from sight so as to not tempt them unnecessarily.
  11. If the child breaks the fast and lies about it, do not call her or him a liar. It’s likely the child lied because he/she didn’t want to disappoint the parent. Instead, use the lie as an opportunity to teach children the importance of honesty.
  12. One strategy is to instill a healthy spirit of competition between children. This is especially effective when the children have peers (cousins, neighbors or friends) who are fasting and who are praying in the mosque. It motivates children to prove that they have the energy and strength to do the same.
  13. For children fasting or trying to, promise them Eid gifts so that they look forward to the Muslim holiday of Eid and are motivated to fast during Ramadan at the same time.

Many adult Muslims can recall the first Ramadan fast they observed when they were children. Despite the fact that the first fast is always difficult to manage, it the successful accomplishment of it that fills the memories. The sense of triumph felt on that day is cherished for life.

Read more at Suite101: Preparing Children for Ramadan Fasting: How to Prepare a Child to Fast During This Muslim Observance | Suite101.com

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2 responses to “Preparing Children for Ramadan Fasting

  1. Thank you so much for writing on this topic. Your information was very thorough and included a great many tips.

    I feel that bribing the children by offering money, toys and wonderful Eid gifts sends the wrong message about the intent of the fasting. If you bribe your children to behave, you are teaching them that they are permitted to misbehave when the bribe is not present. (For example: If you are quiet during this phone conversation, I will let you play your GameBoy for 30 minutes.) The same holds true for material rewards. The child behaves (or in this case fasts) because they are looking forward to getting a toy or money at the end of the day. They are not fasting (or following directions) because they are learning about their religion, they are fasting because they want the material reward.

    Children can be taught to fast without using bribes or rewards. The Eid gifts are given in celebration of the cleansing of the sins, the celebration of becoming more pious in your religious practice, celebration for upholding one of the pillars of Islam, celebration with the members of your family that you were able to complete the task that God set for you. Eid gifts are not a reward for doing what God said you must do in worship. The reward is far greater than anything bought from the store. If you focus on this, your child’s moral compass will grow and become a strong guiding force in their life.

    • Bribery and gift – Actually the boundary between this is very shallow. So, it depend on method, intention and understanding of kids and their parents.

      For me, a gift a part of encouragement to do better. It just like a reward. The problem with some people is they overdo it, that why sometime gift will look like bribery. We must understand the boundary of the system.

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