Children and Ramadan: A perspective

Mothers all over the world encourage their young children to eat healthy food while the latter are simply running away from it. We try to encourage them to do a bit more with each morsel of food that we feed them with. Or tell them that if they eat properly, they grow stronger like dad or wise like mom or big like both of them. We encourage them to eat by telling them that they are going to grow into bigger and stronger adults. After they’ve finished taking their meal, we raise them over a pedestal and delude them into thinking it has worked ! What happens to the same encouragement when it comes to Ramadan? First, what does Islam say about children and Ramadan?

Children and Ramadan

Children and Ramadan: The Ruling

Fasting is not obligatory for young children, until they reach the age of adolescence, because the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “The pens have been lifted from three: from one who has lost his mind until he comes back to his senses, from one who is sleeping until he wakes up, and from a child until he reaches the age of adolescence.”
Narrated by Abu Dawood, 4399

Nevertheless, children should be encouraged to fast so that they can get used to it, and because the good deeds that they do will be recorded for them. The age at which they are bound to fast varies according to each child’s physical makeup. Some scholars have defined this as being nine to ten years of age.

Children and Ramadan: The Enthusiasm

When they see everyone in the house fasting, children as young as 4 years old show keen interest and enthusiasm. They ask us if they can contribute. But what do we do? Promise to wake them up for Sahoor but fail to live up to that promise? Or simply laugh it off?What happens next is the utter death of enthusiasm. Children wake up in the morning upset. So you are inherently doing two things:
– Conveying to your child that lying is somehow okay.
–  And killing their confidence to fast

What you can do instead?

Instead of peddling lies, build their confidence. Encourage them to participate in Sahoor and Iftar meals. Let them know that it is not important for them to fast till they attain a particular age and that if they feel weak or hungry, then they can take some food, a privilege which they will not get once fasting becomes obligatory for them.  take part in your routine. Build them block by block. 

Let them fast for as many hours as they like and celebrate their effort so that they grow bold and confident.

Do NOT kill their enthusiasm. If you keep telling them they CAN do it, they WILL do it . If you tell them they CAN’T, they will NEVER gather the confidence to do it.

Ramadan Kareem and happy parenting

Also Read: Should sick people fast in Ramadan?