How can you prepare your children for Ramadan?
As we get closer to Ramadan, we're all preparing ourselves physically, mentally and spiritually — but how can we do the same for our children in this holy month?
For those who have little ones, it's important to think about what we can do to help them learn, understand and have a strong connection with Ramadan, and especially from a young age.
Here are three experts who tell us more about what you can do to not only teach children about the significance of Ramadan but also how to get them excited about the blessed month.
Embed a spiritual connection
Sheikh Abid Khan is one of our religious experts on IslamiQA. In one of the recent episodes, he talked about the importance of prepping children for Ramadan.
What can we do to prepare our young children for Ramadan? Number one is 'role modelling'. Kids are sponges. They observe everything you do. Not just what you do, but also the energy and passion and keenness and focus with which you do it. So, they're constantly learning and constantly absorbing every single little bit of anticipation, excitement, energy, emotion that you bring to the things you're doing.
When they see that you're not going to be eating, drinking and that you're actually looking forward to it — because you're getting close to Allah (SWT) — that sends a very strong clear message to them. Maybe [it's] one which they're too young to fully conceptualise, understand and comprehend. But no doubt, the seeds have clearly been planted.
Two, have conversations amongst yourselves as husband and wife, or caregivers, guardians, with your friends about what's going on in Ramadan because they're always hearing that as well. And thirdly, try and explain some of those points in a simple way to the kids, that you're doing this because you're showing Allah (SWT) that you love Him.
Make dua with them. 'What is it that you want? What do you really feel like?' Make dua to Allah (SWT) together, so you're teaching them always to look upwards. To look upwards to the heavens. To look upwards to their maker, to their creator. To turn to Him for their emotional needs and dependencies, above all.
Involve them in different ways
Sarah Gulfraz is the founder of Peacock Supplies, a retailer that provides partyware and gifts for different Muslim celebrations
Children are so visual. There's a reason why they gravitate towards other celebrations because they see it at people's homes, on TV and when outside they see local shops and schools all decorated.
Muslim children should have the same opportunity to visualise Ramadan in their homes, even if it isn't visible outside, like as seen in Muslim countries. So a good way to do this is to decorate the home and create activities for them that reinforces things around Ramadan. It's about creating joyful memories that they can look back on.
Some examples of things that we've seen and I do as well with my children is that we put up decorations that last the whole month. We do things like rewarding good deeds with treats and gifts. We have countdown calendars for 30 days so just after Iftar, they can see what surprise they've got that day. Rewarding them for each day they fast just builds up that anticipation and gets them excited and involved.
We also put together nicely decorated graze boxes with food and treats to distribute . The kids get really excited about handing those out to our closest neighbours and friends.
So it's about getting them involved in lots of different things more than anything else.
Make things easier and give rewards
Nur Choudhury is a Parenting Consultant who was recently on The Today Show advising parents on how to help their children during Ramadan.
I think it's really important that when children do well, or do good deeds, we reward them. And there are many ways of rewarding them; it can be financial, it could be food, or it could be some sort of acknowledgement.
We do want to also tell them about the rewards and the benefits of it [fasting]. So, it's not the case of I'm only fasting for this specific kind of material reward, but there's also so much more that you do get.
[For suhur] speak to the children beforehand and say 'we're going to make up for suhur, what would help; what will make you more comfortable in getting up, what kind of food would you like to have for suhur?' That would help make them feel a bit more comfortable about waking up, knowing that they're going to have something that they like.
Charity is obviously a big thing in Ramadan — a month of giving, a month of being generous and looking after those who are less fortunate than us. And so encourage that and maybe every day give them some money so they can decide where they give that charity to.