Parents can get frustrated if their children give up on fasting after a few hours, especially on long summer days. Relax, it's not obligatory for children who have not yet reached puberty to fast.
Participating in this, one of the Five Pillars of Islam, can be done - step by step. If your child cannot fast, whether or not they have reached puberty, there are ways to encourage them... But do realise that fasting is not all there is to Ramadan.
If your children are too young or weak to fast, or are very active, here are five ways you can encourage your children to enjoy and partake in Ramadan.
Slowly introduce them to fasting: Depending on your children's age, you can have them fast for a couple of hours in the morning, every other day, and gradually increase the time fasted by a few minutes as the days go by. This way they can start to get used to the feeling of fasting; of abstaining not only from food and water, but from not bingeing on sweets or snacks, which can be a huge challenge for children. Offer praise for their success, no matter how long they fasted.
Break the fast as a family: If your children are too young to fast, or they fasted for only an hour or two, have them break the fast with you and the family. This way they will feel proud of their achievement and be even more excited to fast the next day.
Teach them how to behave in Ramadan: While they are fasting, even during those short build-up hours, teach them to behave accordingly. Remind them of how to speak and conduct themselves in an obedient manner.
Take your children to maghrib prayer: Take your children to the mosque to pray the maghrib prayer just after sunset. You could also introduce them to breaking the fast with other worshippers so they get a true sense of the spirit of Ramadan beyond their family.
- Educate them to give charity: Give charity in front of your children to be an example to them. Tell them why you are doing it and find opportunities for them to give charity to the needy too. Get your children to give food, money and clothing, and teach them that they will be rewarded for their deeds.