[Updated 13 April 2022]Ramadan has always been regarded as a special time of the year for Muslims all around the world. For parents with young children, what makes it all the more special is having the opportunity to teach our kids the beauty of this holy month. Although children don’t have to fast before they hit puberty, it’s never too early to start preparing them for this yearly feat! From as young as 7 years old, we can encourage fasting even for just a few hours (or half a day like we used to do!). To get you started, we’ve compiled some tips to help make our children’s fasting journey enjoyable 😊
7 Tips To Help Children Start Fasting
1. Practice makes perfect
There are so many ways for them to try fasting. Whether they wake up for sahur, have a late breakfast or skip breakfast altogether, this will give them a feel of the routine. Once they're used to it, they can start off with fasting for a few hours that can be gradually increased as they get more comfortable with it - from 3 hours to 5 hours and from half-day fast to a full day of fasting. Ease them into fasting and soon you won't see tantrums like this one 🤣
2. Make healthy choices
Children need sustenance throughout the day. When thinking of what to prepare for their meals, make sure to choose balanced, nutritious dishes and snacks. After all, they're still growing!
Lessen their intake of salty and sugary food too as they would only increase their thirst and cravings throughout the day. Food that's high in fibre and protein are best for keeping them full for the most part of their fast. This includes are milk, yogurt, rice, potatoes and vegetables!
3. Set up a reward system
Give your children a sense of purpose and set goals for them to work towards. How many days do they want to try fasting in a week? Or how many hours a day? Once you've written it down, come up with a reward for every goal they achieve that's attractive to them. Maybe an extra nugget or an ice cream treat at the end of the week would excite them to give fasting a try!
4. Track their progress (and make it fun!)
Make a colourful calendar to track their fasting goals and achievements and put it up on a wall. For every day that they completed their fasting, put a gold star or a sticker and words of encouragement! This gives them a sense of pride in the efforts they made and would encourage them to do it more often ⭐️
5. Prepare for fasting together
Whether it's waking up for sahur or helping set the table for iftar, get your kids involved in the everyday process during Ramadan. They could help hand out the dates for the family members who are fasting and learn its importance at the same time. Let them get used to the routine and they would want to be part of it ❤️
6. Teach them why we fast and the sunnahs we can do
It's important for kids to understand why Ramadan holds such significance for Muslims and why we fast, so it's good to take the time to explain this to them and answer any questions they may have! Learning some of the sunnahs of fasting that we practice may also help them see the beauty of Ramadan. Other than getting them involved during sahur and iftar, let's encourage them to read the Quran (or even just sit with us) and make duas together. We can also teach and help them memorise the dua for breaking fast so they could read aloud together with us during iftar. This is a good way to include them as we reap the rewards of Ramadan as a family!
7. Lead by example
The most important tip of all is to lead by example. A good role model sets the tone for an enjoyable and educational Ramadan. Our children look up to us for everything and fasting is no different. They will do what we do, and they would strive to be able to achieve greater fasting goals just like one of the big kids. Be kind, share with them and show them how it's done!
While it's great to teach them from young, also remember to take into account the weather, their health and fatigue. They can always try again tomorrow or get a do-over in the coming Ramadan ? So take it slow and be mindful of their needs throughout the day. Good luck, parents! ❤️