Let’s be honest, you don’t really get used to fasting year after year. It’s true that it gets easier during the month but from one year to the next, it is just as hard. The first few days are always tough and long, but we get used to it and make it through.
If your kids are eager to join the adults in the family in fasting Ramadan, here are a few tips that can help them out
Fast on the weekends only
To start them off, we suggest you encourage your kids to fast on weekends only when they are not running around the school playground or not spending hours outside in the heat. During those days, it can be very helpful to schedule some non-physical activities for the whole family as a pastime. Do a puzzle all together as a family, make some arts and crafts or shapes with play dough. Anything to keep them occupied and entertained without exerting too much physical effort.
Fast from midday to sunset
Growing up, most kids were told to fast from sunrise to midday and then break their fast alone while the adults wait till sunset. We suggest doing it differently. Encourage your kids to have a filling and nutritious breakfast in the morning then fast from midday to sunset. This schedule will allow them to celebrate breaking their fast with the adults, sitting at the table with them, making them feel accomplished and grown-up, which is what they're after in the first place.
Besides being an Islamic duty, fasting is mainly a mental challenge. So explaining to your kids the reason we fast and what they stand to gain from practicing fasting is key to concur the mental aspect of it. If they understand the importance and benefits, they will be more inclined to stick to it. And please, we beg of you, steer away from the “we fast to empathize with poor” story. Children have long broken through it and the first thing they ask is "so the poor don't have to fast?", and we all know the answer to that!
What you can tell them is that we fast to learn self-discipline. We fast to learn to detach ourselves from the luxuries of life and remind ourselves of what truly matters in this life and what we are here on this earth to strive for. Explain to them that fasting is more than just skipping meals.
Fasting is a chore for most people and even more so for kids so don’t be surprised if your kids show no interest in fasting. Instead, involve them in all the activities that are Ramadan related to get them excited. We would also recommend speaking to your kids about why we fast and make Ramadan a festive occasion. Explain to them the charitable aspect of the month and have them join you by helping out in the meal packing and distribution or by donating a part of their allowance. Make Kunafa or Qatayef together to take to a family gathering or decorate your place as a family activity.
However you choose to involve your kids in Ramadan, we think that doing it all together as a family is key. Happy Ramadan to you and your family