Ramadan is a time when family and friends gather at the masjid to feast on delicious meals and stand shoulder to shoulder in nighttime prayers filled with blessings and rewards. It’s a pleasurable time at the masjid that both parents and children look forward to. But suppose you are the mother of a rambunctious child, what might normally be an enjoyable time to connect with friends and get closer to Allah can become an experience filled with frustration. Here are 10 tips to encourage your child to stay on his best behavior in the masjid, so you can have a more pleasant and rewarding Taraweeh prayer during Ramadan insha’Allah.
Select a masjid that caters to children. Many masjids offer childcare services for worshippers, making it easy for parents to enjoy meals and give their undivided attention during long standing periods of Taraweeh prayer. Of course, not all masjids have this luxury. Even so, some are certainly more kid-friendly than others. Look for a masjid that you and your child both feel comfortable in.
Encourage your child to fast during Ramadan. The pious predecessors of the Prophet encouraged their children to fast. There are differences in opinion as to what age children should be encouraged to fast. Nevertheless, you can still make gentle attempts at getting your child to give up eating by distracting him with toys, as did our pious predecessors. You can even offer a special reward if he fasts all or most of the day. Use affectionate persuasion but don’t force fasting upon him. How can fasting help control your child during visits to the masjid? Think about it . . . how do you feel after fasting all day and then finally sitting down to savor a scrumptious meal? Your blood sugar plummets and you’re ready to doze off to sleep. Your children are no different. Having your child fall asleep during Taraweeh prayer can be the relief you need to focus on your prayers and avoid having to correct him to be quiet or sit still.
Endear your child to stand for the Taraweeh prayer along with you. It’s not uncommon for children as young as eight-years-old to stand for the entire Taraweeh prayer! However, don’t force it upon your child. All children are different. Offer him a special treat if he stands throughout much of the prayer with you. You’ll find him trying his best to stay on his feet, fighting the urge to rock back and forth and nod off.
Talk to your child prior to leaving home. Explain to him that you understand how difficult it can be sitting still for such a long period of time. Explain specifically what type of behavior you expect from him, within reason. Tell him that you want him to sit down while you’re praying. Let him know if he wishes to talk, he should use a hushed tone. If he sits quietly throughout most of the prayer, you’ll give him a gift from your “Ramadan Gift Bag” on the way home. Your gift doesn’t have to be expensive. It could even be a special dessert such as an ice cream cone or donut on the way home from the masjid, or even a special sweet treat you cook up at home.
Carry along a “Taraweeh Activity Bag” with an assortment of toys such as coloring books and crayons, pencil and paper, puzzles, sticker books, hand held toys and whatever other entertaining toys (without images) you think will keep your child’s hands busy and mind occupied while you’re praying. Why not visit the local dollar store and have your child pick out toys he might enjoy playing with. After you get home, stuff everything into a back pack for your child to carry with him to the masjid.
Bring a bag of snacks. What better way to keep your child’s mouth closed and hands busy than with baggies filled with savory snacks. Treats with mini pieces such as bags of nuts, popcorn or fruit snacks are ideal. They make it practical for your child to share with his friends and they don’t leave crumbs behind. Be sure to remind him to pick up any bags or wrappers he may have used.
Take an outside break. Sometimes, being inside for an extensive period of time can be too much for your child. When your child gets cranky and disruptive to others, give him a break. Allow him (and yourself) to take a breather outside and take in some fresh night air. After calming down your child and gathering your resolve, return inside and continue your prayer.
Remember that you are training your child. Don’t expect a perfect soldier. He will falter at times with your instructions. That can be expected. Your child is not an adult. And besides, even adults have limitations on their attention spans. Your child is just that—a child.
Lower your expectations of attaining a perfect Taraweeh prayer. Times are not the same as when you had no children. Your child will inevitably take time away from your devotion. And that’s okay. You are now in charge of a child you have been given as a trust. Your responsibility is to teach him his purpose in life—to worship his Lord. Through your patience, guidance and example, he will learn an important facet of Ramadan—standing earnestly at night and enduring the fortitude of praying to His Lord.
For some children, the structured environment of a masjid for such an extended period of time is just too demanding. In such situations, it’s reassuring to know that for sisters, praying in the home gains more rewards than praying in the masjid–talk about convenience. So, you can still receive bountiful rewards from your Lord right in your home while praying Taraweeh and at the same time, allow your child to experience the many blessing of this holy month of Ramadan.
What tips do you use to manage children during Taraweeh prayers? Please share with us in the comments section below. 🙂