Parents are often faced with a predicament of managing young children who wish to fast. It is not a bad idea to make preparations as soon as Ramadan starts, or even before.
A child below the age of seven is not obligated to fast, but can participate in the whole spiritual aspect of the month, in their own special way.
Once their health is capable to endure the hardship of fasting, parents should make a routine for them to follow. This will not only encourage them, but also make them feel involved.
Perhaps, a good way to start is to allow them to fast for half the day, or a single day on weekends. Getting them involved in prayers, or waking them up for sehri will give them a ‘grown-up’ feeling.
Engaging children to participate in your Ramadan-- such as reading the Quran with them, helping to set-up for prayer time and inviting family and friends-- will make them feel part of something special.
Making decorations which capture the spirit of Ramadan, like a Ramadan calendar, learning a new dua, memorising three new surahs, fasting for two hours once a week, help mummy everyday, fill up a good deeds jar, etc can greatly motivate them. Don’t forget to shower praise for achieving Ramadan goals. Perfection is not the point here, but the warm feelings we nurture towards Ramadan and their faith, are.
Discussions on Ramadan related topics with family and through Islamic books, can also be engaging. Fun Ramadan activities like making iftar recipes, personalised Ramadan and Eid greeting cards, writing out duas to make at iftar time, Sadaqah (charity) jar, picture story about Ramadan, and creating a special corner for salah and taraweeh at home can help create and nurture interest too.
Younger children are always excited at the thought of doing ‘grown-up’ stuff and copying our behaviour. Aside from family, school teachers can also participate in this activity by encouraging show and tell sessions for Ramadan, with stories and pictures.
Finally, a keen eye should be kept on nutrition as well, including fluid intake and healthy food for sehri and iftar. Proper observation at home can easily nurture a love for Ramadan in little hearts.
Photo: LS Archive/Sazzad Ibne Sayed