Trial Fasting and How to Introduce Fasting to Children

Though it is not mandatory for children to fasting during Ramadan, my children have been practicing “trial fasting”, meaning fasting but not for the whole day, since 3-4 years ago. Faiq (my oldest son, now 10+) started trial fasting since 5 years old. He has been successfully increasing his performance that by 7 years old he was able to complete the whole month of Ramadan with full day fasting. Excellent Faiq!

Fathan, my youngest son, now 7+, started trial fasting last year with half-day fasting until Zuhur. At Zuhur he would be taking some meals, stop, then continue fasting until Maghrib (dusk). This year, he had fasting until past Zuhur for thefirst two days and alhamdulillah the days after he is able to have full day fasting. Keep up the good work Fathan.

I was advised that the best to make children do trial fasting is not to order them, but inspire them.

There is no age limit when children need to start fasting. It is recommended however that children learn to fast when they already understand why they must do it.

His introduction to suhoor (pre-dawn meal) may be started with “suhoor” at 8am and breaking fast at 12pm. But teach him that his parents, or adults are taking suhoor prior to Fajr prayer and break the fast at dusk (after Maghrib prayer call – athan). There is also no strict rule on how to make children learn fasting, therefore do not be afraid of making mistake. It all depends on children traits and personalities.  

 When introducing children to fasting world, parents need to introduce them to Ramadan and and to introduce them via step-by-step processes.

Children need to be introduced to activities in Ramadan, and this does not need to wait until they start learning fasting. Two-way communication can be used for introduction to Ramadan. For example, when having fasting break (Iftar), involve children. “Would you mind joining Mom for Iftar? This is Ramadan and Mom shall be fasting. Now is the time to break fasting”. Introduce term Ramadan, Suhoor, Iftar, Taraweh, although they may not fully understand the whole meaning. We can also create a different atmosphere at home, Ramadan atmosphere. Put Ramadan accesories, telling stories of fasting, play songs about fasting. Create homy Ramadan atmosphere that really feels.

If the child has begun to know, now the mother may begin to explain the history of why fasting is obligatory. Emphasize to children that fasting should be done with full sincerity and earnestness. Children should also be taught not to use fasting as an arena of competition ‘who is best able to resist hunger’ with her friends. Remember always that fasting is not about not eating and drinking, but rather the attitude. Do not forget to explain to children the benefits of fasting. Among them by explaining that by fasting, then the child will be more grateful for this blessing there. That one purpose of fasting is self-control. Parents or teachers at school can teach self-control at the time of fasting, such as eating, drinking, and anger. It could have been done so that the child was more able to control emotions. In addition, for children who had fasted, there is happiness and satisfaction that he could reach a certain achievement. 

Once the child understands, then the mother may offer the child to start learning fast. Say that the temptation must have emerged, but as long as there is determination and sincerity, then the child can certainly handle it. Tell also that the child does not need to over-exert themselves, because it takes time to learn fasting. Perhaps the children could be asked to fast half-day course at the beginning of learning, or as hard until he/she felt completely unable to. The point here is the condition and the body of every child is different. Do not let a child is sick or depressed because of too demanding. In addition,it is not the length of time that matters, but the sincerity of children. So, mothers need not force the child to meet targets in how long he is able to fast because if they are  forced to  fasting, then the child could strike, even hate fasting. Starting from the right understanding and simple steps, then the child must be able to follow the fasting very well. (Source: