It is mandated to fast when a Muslim is of mature age. However, the benefits and rewards are plentiful, if you can train your kids to fast at an early age. Alhumdulillah, it all started when our girls were one and two years old, mashaAllah. They watched their parents enjoy this special month of Ramadan and loved all the rewards given at night, as well as the month’s incredible celebrations–our three-day Eid!
The next year, I helped my girlfriend host a girls’ fasting party for one of her daughters. At two and three years old, the girls started asking what they could do for the sake of Allah subhanallahu wa Ta’ala, so we started giving up snacks and little things.
The next year at three and four years old, our five-year-old girlfriend had a huge party for fasting the whole month. Naturally, our eldest was determined to accomplish the same thing. So, when Dhul-Hijjah rolled around she completed the 10 full-days of fast, mashaAllah. We had friends who owned a halal store and they rewarded her with very generous complements and gifts. Her three and one-year-old sisters marveled at their proud older sister. In time, fasting became a selfless act that my husband and I never forced upon them, mashaAllah.
Please note: My daughters’ success is due in part to a very watchful eye and extremely active parenting by my husband and I, each and every day we fast together, such as during the month of Ramadan.
Below are 99 tips that my daughters and I have applied throughout the years to help them complete all their fasts. Alhumdulilah, we just made Tip #1 together right now, Wednesday night, because we’ll be fasting tomorrow, inshaAllah Ta’ala. The girls have been fasting on Monday’s and Thursday’s the past couple weeks (Tip #91) to prepare for our blessed month, alhumdulilah, and this entire list was compiled last Monday during our fast.
May Allah continue to guide and protect us. May Allah keep us on the straight path. May Allah grant us strength and health. May Allah give us ease. May Allah reward us for our humble efforts. May Allah correct our faults and grant us forgiveness. May Allah accept all our fasts, especially those of our children. Ameen.
99 Tips to Help Kids Fast during Ramadan
- Discuss honestly in open the importance of setting one’s intentions to fast for the sake and pleasure of Allah subhanallahu wa Ta’ala, and Him alone. Share all the Islamic principles of this one selfless act and the grave rewards towards the giving of oneself purely as a devout servant of God. These strong deep intentions much be at the root of their fast and must proceed the physical action of fasting. Since the intention of fasting must be made the night before, make the intentions together as a family each night.
- Create an atmosphere that encourages your children to want to fast. As minors, children must ask and seek permission from their parents to fast. While making intentions together the night before fasting in Ramadan, permission should be sought at the same time. This able request must be sincere and come from the child, not a forced action from the parent to the child. Our girls started asking to fulfill this mature undertaken at two and three years old because they witnessed my husband and I embrace our beloved month of fast and saw the rewards of our actions. Their choice to emulate us was effortless and pure, mashaAllah.
- The mental, emotional, moral, and Islamic habits of fasting are much more important than the act of fasting from worldly things like food and drink. Break your children’s fast if they pout, have a bad attitude, or argue. We give our girls 3-strikes in their attitudes, or we force them to eat and drink.
- Pick what you want to eat for suhoor together the night before.
- Study the nutrition and sunnah of suhoor and create the most simplistic meal to withhold a full day’s fast.
- Prepare suhoor together before you go to sleep. Have ingredients out, fruits pre-cut, foods defrosting, etc.
- Go to sleep right after Ishaa prayer.
- Better yet, go to sleep after Maghrib, and wake up kids for Ishaa, Taraweeh, and Qiyaam al-Layl.
- Share the sunnah of suhoor. Kids will ache and rush to wake up for suhoor, simply because there’s great reward for eating suhoor; rather then brushing it off as unnecessary or unimportant.
- Wake up for suhoor at least one-hour before the adhan for Fajr, and use the time to reflect, pray the late night prayer and critical du’a. Don’t wake up to eat and pray half-asleep. Waking up a few minutes before Fajr to eat a big suhoor meal quickly is not healthy as it shocks the body with food, and it is bad for metabolism if you sleep immediately after a drowsy and meaningless prayer. Slow waking, slow eating (ideally half-hour before fajr), and slow praying is more recommended.
- Make wudu once you get out of bed because it will fully awaken you. Allow yourself to air dry. Do not towel dry your wudu. Allow wudu to be refreshing.
- Make suhoor/Fajr routines as a family, especially if the actions are sunnah. For example,
- (a) We take turns reciting Qur’an between suhoor and Fajr and just sip glasses of water until the adhan.
- (b) Pray Fajr on time.
- (c) Do not rush through the two rakas of Fajr. Have the imam, Baba, recite long surahs of the Qur’an during prayer.
- (d) Discuss the tafsir to the Qur’an Baba just recited for Fajr to slow down their awoken bodies to return to sleep.
- (e) Watch Mekkah live on the internet.
- (f) Read Qur’an until shurook. Share the hadith about staying in the same position you prayed fajr until you pray sunrise prayer.
- Let the kids sleep in a little, such as 9 – 10am. Do not let the kids sleep in late, for example, until Dhuhr or mid-day.
- Pray all prayers on-time together, as a family.
- Have kids pick iftaar meal.
- Have kids help make iftaar meal with you, and make a surprise side dish.
- Do not have kids help in the kitchen near food if you know they can’t resist tasting the food. For example, one of our daughters loves making salads because she loves eating fresh vegetables. When she was younger, she made innocent mistakes and took intentional snacks. We worked hard to preoccupy her during food preparation until she was old enough to resist this temptation.
- Have kids pick iftaar dessert.
- Have kids help make iftaar dessert with you, and set aside a tiny sweet surprise.
- Encourage kids to walk away from tempting situations involving food (i.e., snack bars at stores, cafeterias, restaurants, etc.).
- Encourage kids to walk away from confrontation with others (especially siblings) by saying “I’m fasting” in a kind, gentle way and walk away politely. Do not allow kids to pass it off as a brash excuse to be rude.
- Learn Qur’anic Arabic together with rules of Tajweed. Remember it is an obligation upon every Muslim to read and recite the Qur’an. The talent to memorize is a gift.
- Memorize Qur’an together. Set a personal and family goal as to number of lines, ayats, surahs, pages, etc. for the month and work each day to meet this goal.
- Encourage kids to have private reflexive time to contemplate a given chore: tafsir, reflecting on the poor, etc.
- Do not let kids stay by themselves for too long. Being alone for a long (or short time) creates boredom; and, being bored is haraam.
- Play Qur’an or critical du’a to create a peaceful atmosphere in the house. Do not play Qur’an whenever people are talking or active conversations begin.
- Do not resort to unproductive activities, such as watching television, playing video games, etc.
- Have an open discussion about the Islamic reading material they have read.
- Create Ramadan activities, such as:
- (a) Creating a 99 Names of Allah Challenge
- (b) Participating in the Ramadan Qur’an-a-thon Sadaqah Drive
- (c) Ramadan activities for kids
- (d) Making craft projects as Ramadan, Islamic or Eid gifts.
- Encourage charitable activities, for example:
- (a) We distribute donated gifts and create packages for the Summer Islamic Reading Challenge participants and mail them out together during Ramadan (stuffing envelopes, picking the awards, etc.).
- (b) Donate perishable foods to a food pantry.
- (c) Donate clothes and linens to charitable organizations, ideally a masjid.
- (d) Keep a Sadaqah bank, and encourage giving during the last ten days of Ramadan for extra rewards, instead of on Eid.
- (e) Create something of sadaqah jariyah (on-going charity) in words together, such as this list that will help other Muslims and their families. My girls and I are writing this together right now while we’re fasting.
- (f) Find out if poor families live near or around you, and make Eid/Ramadan goody bags for each of their family members. Deliver zakat al-fitr as a family.
- (g) Slaughter as a family, and give the meat you slaughtered to the poor.
- (h) Make random donations to the poor, and let your kids go with you. Remind them that any charity offered during Ramadan is multiplied.
- (i) By following your example, your kids will start making their own random donations, such as allowance that would normally be used for candy would become a donation.
- (j) Volunteer as much as possible together, ideally for Muslim organizations, but don’t discount needs in your community, e.g., we volunteer a great deal of time to homeschool organizations, public libraries, etc.
- (k) Offer to organize a fundraiser for your local masjid, or run one virtually online.
- (l) Volunteer to hold an Islamic contest, and have your kids participate.
- (m) Head or assist in running a Qur’an competition, and encourage your kids to compete.
- Read about Islam together, for example:
- (a) Read ahadith books together. Make projects, such as book reviews, or oral book discussions.
- (b) Read stories about the Prophets, create unit studies, posters, cards, notecards, journals, etc. of the stories you learn as a family.
- (c) Encourage by example—read Islamic books, pamphlets, magazines, and newspapers.
- (d) Learn new du’aa (supplications) together.
- (e) Strive to read the Qur’an as many times as possible together, as a family. MashaAllah, my husband and I try to complete in full at least once for ourselves. But, as the girls got older, we add reading it from cover-to-cover as a family. Baba recites those surahs during prayers, and we read together more at fajr and in the evenings. Therefore, my husband and my Qur’ans have 2 bookmarks, one for our personal reading and one for the family. The girls have it marked for the family.
- (f) Determine to learn Arabic as a primary language as a family, beyond Qur’anic Arabic. Strive to learn the language of Allah, subhanallahu wa Ta’ala, to better understand tafsir (not the translation) of the Qur’an.
- Limit high-impact cardio-vascular physical activities.
- If they choose, monitor them during physical activities. While I tried, my girls are extremely active and I can’t keep them inside all day. So, I just keep a careful watch and force them to stop even if they don’t want to, to prevent dehydration.
- Play Islamic nasheeds during the day while you’re doing any of the fun Ramadan or Sadaqah activities.
- Keep things colorful in the house. Ramadan is the best time of the year—keep it festive and fun. Doing things for the sake of Allah subhanallah wa T’ala is rewarding, not boring or a hardship. Encourage a happy and cheerful atmosphere.
- Prioritize this month by example. Try your hardest to limit or eliminate as much of work as possible. Take family vacation time during the critical month of our Islamic calendar.
- Make dhikr together. Keep the remembrance of Allah subhanallahu wa Ta’ala, near and dear to your hearts and always on your lips while fasting.
- Make naps acceptable and within reason. Some kids were allowed to nap for 4-6 hours during the long summer days last year–purpose!? Note Tip #1.
- Replace naps with quiet time. My girls stopped napping at a very early age and while I thought it was necessary during fasts, they never needed them, mashaAllah. However, sometimes they ask to lie down on their own. Also, I schedule sporadic quiet times throughout the day to keep them rejuvenated and refreshed.
- Don’t compare your kids. Some are more mature than others. Each child has their own personalities and limitations. Others have different birthdays, meaning some learned to fast during the short winter months, so may be easier regardless of age.
- Surround yourself with like-minded families with the same goals. All of the Muslim families we are personal friends with have young fasting kids.
- Stay away from those who you know will break your fast. We had a family in one community, whose mother always “lectured” about the kids not needing to fast. Yet, they were also the only family that had girls the community would rather not be friends with for their poor attitudes, Islamic mannerisms and conduct.
- Know that it’s never too early to start fasting. Do the poor have a chose to fast? Basically, kids are only missing lunch and snacks. If you researched suhoor (Tip #5) you’ll know how to eat the morning meal to meet all necessary nutritional needs of your growing kids.
- Let your kids teach you how to fast! Kids are much more resilient than adults. They also have so much more energy than we do, so don’t underestimate their strength of mind and body. My husband and I continue to learn wonderful lessons about the true meaning of fasting from our girls than many adults proclaim to profess.
- Offer incentives and reward your kids every night they fast.
- Offer incentives and reward your kids handsomely for Eid, (bigger than normal) for major milestones of learning how to fast during Ramadan. There are ahadith that supports Muslims to encourage good Islamic behavior and manners with incentives and rewards.
- Full-day fasts are easier than half-day fasts. We learned that one child fasting any amount of full-days (3-20) was easier to wean them into fasting the whole month, instead of a friend who fasted 30-half-days year after year with no stamina to make a full day.
- Don’t cook iftaar too closely to Maghrib. Do not rush the process of breaking fast. Do it early enough that the food is fresh and warm, but long enough that you can sit down before the adhaan calls and enjoy the savory scents of the kitchen. A gift you have to look forward to: iftaar, which our needy unfortunate Muslims don’t all have in this world, and
- Contemplate the gift that you have in iftaar and suhoor.
- Pray Taraweeh as a family at home and at the masjid.
- Let the kids join in for Qiyaam al-Laiyl in the middle of the night.
- Go to the masjid as often as possible for various events, projects, iftaar, or randomly throughout the day just to pray.
- Make wudu when you are angry. It clears your mind, cools your body, and cleanses your soul.
- Make a habit of performing all Sunnah prayers for each of the five daily prayers.
- Pray Duhaa Prayer in the morning.
- Remind your kids that they are fasting. My middle daughter proudly offered this tip: The frequent reminders keep all of us on our best behavior!
- Develop good study habits with your secular school work, by doing all the work with your kids. For example, finish secular school work as early as possible in the day for homeschoolers, homework right when you return home. Do difficult tasks first when everyone (especially your kids) are more productive and energized.
- Listen to your kids. They are your kids, so acknowledge their hunger and discuss it openly. Don’t discount or shove your kids aside by saying “No, you’re not hungry,” or “We’re ALL hungry!” Lying is haram and laying a guilt-trip is poor parenting.
- Don’t allow the word “starving” in your home. Semantics are big in our house. The girls are allowed to be hungry, but they’ve never starved in their lives. So, fasting is not the time to start using that word.
- Put your kids’ goals to complete their fasts before your own obligation to fast. One of the saddest things I ever heard was when a mother preferred that her boys were in school during Ramadan, because when they’re home, “they break my (her) fast!” Restraint and patience are critical habits to work on as parents, and there’s no better time than Ramadan to make significant improvements.
- Develop strong Ramadan fasting habits during Shabaan; it’s Sunnah.
- Develop strong Ramadan fasting habits year-round with prescribed days, such as Mondays, Thursdays, and mid-month.
- Develop strong Ramadan fasting habits on great days, like the Day of Arafat and the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah.
- Feed non-fasting kids in a separate room away from fasting kids. When the little ones weren’t fasting, I made sure to preoccupy my fasting daughter(s) while I fed the others.
- Maintain daily chores and errands as normal, or work to make even better habits. Do not change or neglect your house chores or family duties and responsibilities. Demonstrate that all duties must be fulfilled by all members of the family to be a good, practicing, and fasting Muslim.
- Involve your kids even more in your daily chores and errands as a means to gaining more charitable acts. My girls are the most helpful during their fasts (mashaAllah) because they value the extra rewards gained by pleasing Allah subhanallahu wa Ta’ala and their parents. Subhanallah, any day we fast, there’s much harmony and peace throughout our home.
- Go to your kids’ school during snack and lunch breaks. Although we homeschool, my girls went to a private academy for 8 months, public school for 4 months, many private classes, etc. so I did this whenever they fasted. Every day, I worked with teachers, principals or tutors to be there during snack and lunch times. I offered to spend time and do activities with any other Muslim kids on the premises who were fasting too. I taught nasheeds, made Islamic art projects, prayed together, or simply allowed them a peaceful environment to slow down and reflect, etc.
- Allow your kids to play freely. While monitoring and moderating them all day is good to maintain a balanced fast without overexerting themselves, allowing them to play freely gives them the confidence in their mature decision to fast while being a vibrant child. Give them time to play, make a moderate mess and of course, instill the responsibility of cleaning up afterward.
- Keep in mind that training your kids to fast, helps you to fast better and become a better Mu’min. Remember that as parents, you are held responsible if your kids do not complete specific ibadah (acts of worship) at their prescribed times. For example, fasting at maturity, prayer between 7-10 years old, etc. So, build the foundation that protects your entire family from Hellfire, by taking baby-steps at a young age.
- Stay away from clocks. Don’t watch a clock tick-tock. Let your clocks call the adhan, and to serve as guide to help you work towards creating rewarding experiences for your family for the sake of Allah subhanallahu wa Ta’ala by completing as many tips from this list as possible. InshaAllah, you’ll add even more to it!
99+ Tips to Help Kids Fast During Ramadan
New additions as we fast through Ramadan 2011, or comments from our loyal fans–you!
- Have the kids take a full shower to freshen up anytime during the day, either after they just ran around outside or because they’re
smellysleepy. Let them even have a bubble bath to enjoy a mid-day cleansing.
- [Sister Suzanne]: Check out our iphone app stories to help your children learn about Islam and Ramadan. Stories are called “Allah Made The World” and our new story “Ramadan Mubarak Happy Ramadan!” will be launched soon in August.
- Strive Not to be a Stereotypical Tired, Hungry, Unproductive Muslim.
- Become a Productive Ramadan Member, and participate in each module with your kids. It’s so energizing, we love it!
Please keep them coming, inshaAllah Ta’ala.
If you have some tips to help other Muslim kids to fast during the month of Ramadan, as well as fasting throughout the year, please comment generously below!