As-Salaamu ‘Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh,
I do not recommend pressuring him with force. I suggest trying to convince him to fast in Ramadan by reasoning with him about his religion.
Show him the ahadith about the rewards for fasting.
There are many proofs in the health sciences too that fasting is very beneficial to our health. Teach him the wisdom of Allah (saw) in His order to fast.
Respect your son’s right to know for himself why he has to do something and to determine what he does with his own body. He is only eight years old, but he is strong enough to stand up to you and tell you what he needs. Respect and build on that.
Mothering is not only telling our children what to do but launching them into adulthood by helping them learn how to make their own decisions. When they are little, it is existentially imperative that we tell them what to do—to save their lives so they don’t walk out in front of a car or fall off a cliff. But, as they grow, it is existentially imperative that we do not tell them what to do anymore but “launch” them into their own adulthood by giving them the info and tools they need to make their own decisions while supporting them with that decision-making process. This means we get them to think for themselves so that when they reach puberty and later adulthood, they can make their own decisions without our help.
From age 7 to age 14 is the stage when they are being “trained” to think for themselves. Part of that process is feeding them information. In addition to information, they also need to learn HOW to process information.
Making decisions are rarely easy. They are a balancing act between one set of values and another. For example, when a sister has to decide whether to fast or not in Ramadan when she is pregnant, she has to weigh the “value” of her fast against the “value” of her health and that of her unborn baby. Because everyone’s body is different, there is no “pat” answer to that question for her. Some women cannot fast, others can.
Decisions are “adult” things. Your little son is just entering the world of learning decision-making so that he can then enter the world of “adulthood”. Help him with it. You can’t order him in that process—that is an oxymoron. Adulthood means the ability to make your own decisions. Celebrate that process with him. Congratulate him in that process.
Help your son learn about both the ins and outs of fasting and decision making, in sha’ Allah.
The part of the process of decision making is learning selflessness. In psychology, the period from age 0 to 7 is our “primal narcissistic” period. This means we, the parents, need to serve the needs of our offspring. They “need” to be selfish, so to speak, in order for us to keep them alive. But from 7 to 14, we need to teach them how to be selfless. We need to teach them how to serve others so they can one day be a good parent to another helpless, dependent child who needs them to serve their needs.
So, fasting also helps us learn deprivation and selflessness, in Sha ’Allah. But there are many lessons in fasting. Focus on bringing those to your child’s mind, not just “do what you are told”.
May Allah (swt) make it easy for you!
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