During the holy observance of Ramadan, fasting is an important ritual alongside prayers, good deeds and increased charity. However, for the youngest members of the family, this can be a difficult time to digest and understand the reasons for these activities.
Of course, children are not required to fast for Ramadan until they are old enough to understand and meet their religious obligations – not until their teen year at least. But, helping them to understand the customs and take part in their own way can be a great way to include them in this sacred time of year.
Ramadan is an experience of community, especially for truly young children. It is a time where meals and gatherings are rescheduled and become much more common amongst family and friends, as well as more time spent at the mosque. This can be an exciting prospect for a child who enjoys the socialising of Ramadan.
The more they enjoy it, the more you can help them to observe fasting in ways appropriate to their age. Refraining from certain foods, for example, for younger children and perhaps fasting for short periods of the day as they get older (until noon or through the afternoon, for example). Such practice could be highly beneficial for them as they grow older and take part in Ramadan fully. Small things such as this could help them to feel included and enjoy the experience more and more.
Of course, your child may not have the opportunity to be abroad for the full length of Ramadan and so helping them to deal with Ramadan during school is important. This is particularly true of older teens, who will be greatly tempted to break fast during school hours. Seeking a quiet space during lunch hours or special consideration during Physical Education lessons may help to negate these temptations.
The more understanding the school, the easier it will be for your child. So, speaking to a teacher or seeking support within the school is a good way to make Ramadan as easy as possible for young teens starting to observe fully for the first time. The more support they feel at home and at school, the less temptation they will feel.