4. Questions & Answers
My child doesn’t understand fasting. He thinks he is being punished when I put him on a fast. Help!
If the child is old enough (around four years or so), he or she can understand what fasting is all about if you explain it in a general way. If you have any animals or pets, by all means make it a point to assure your child how these creatures fast naturally during time of discomfort. If you can, you or your spouse should practice fasting in front of the child before he is put on a fast. Tell the child that when you are sick, your body and stomach must rest, so no food is eaten.
If the child is very young or is an infant, then you have little choice but to let the child fast and listen to his complaints. Actually, many children after the first day of the fast adapt very readily to not eating—moreso than adults.
It may seem cruel to you to deny a crying child his food, but if you are intent on furnishing him with superior health, then you will have to make this sacrifice.
The easiest way to handle this problem for a child past two or three is to let him see that fasting is a natural thing to do, and is not a punishment or something to be afraid of. Our culture promotes eating and overfeeding. You must show your child the other side of the coin, and develop good health habits at an early age.
The parent should set the example for the child and abstain from food too. In this way the child will be a participant rather than an outcast.
I want to fast our child, but my wife says no. None of our other relatives are sympathetic either. What should do?
In these cases, a compromise is necessary. Placing the child on diluted fruit juices or fresh fruit only will certainly allow the body to its work more efficiently than a conventional diet. While not as effective as a’ fast, such a modified diet is often quite effective in the healing process.
Meanwhile, try to cooperate with your spouse. You yourself should fast to remove any fears about the process. Provide your relatives with information about fasting, such as this lesson, and seek out other parents who have had experience in fasting their children. Often a spoken word from another person who has fasted his or her children successfully will do much to allay your spouse’s fears.
I have trouble knowing when to break my child’s fast. She always says she is hungry, so that’s not a good indication. How can I tell?
One rule is to never feed during a fever. If hunger is present at that time, it is usually a sign that liquids are needed—specifically, distilled water. You can generally ignore complaints about being hungry for the entire first day. If the child is very young, it is possible that true hunger could return as soon as the second or third day of the fast. If no major symptoms appear and the child indicates hunger by this time, then break the fast with fruit juices or fresh raw fruit. Continue feeding at this level for as long as possible. As long as the tongue is coated and the breath strong, the child will not evince true physiological hunger.