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Kids are balancing fasting and school during Ramadan. How to support them

Ada Tseng, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Religious News

That will also help distract them from feeling hungry, Aslam said.

How to talk about fasting with your kids

Focus on the intention of Ramadan fasting. "Ramadan is meant to be a time of reflection, discipline and gratitude for our blessings," Aslam said. "And acknowledging that we are fortunate that we can break our fast with a beautiful meal with family and friends. Not everyone has that opportunity or privilege."

While it's important to monitor your kids, it's also a good opportunity to teach them to pay attention to their bodies.

"Does their body need rest? Does their body need nutrition? It's nice for kids to realize, 'Right now, I'm hungry.' 'I think right now, I'm tired,'" she said. "So they know, 'OK, let me sit down a little bit.' 'Let me drink some water.'"

Fatema Jivanjee-Shakir, a licensed clinical social worker who works at the Renfrew Center, recommends adults refrain from praising kids for not eating because it can lead to an unhealthy preoccupation with food.

 

Jivanjee-Shakir, who works with patients with eating disorders, also advises monitoring how young people — especially those going through puberty — are talking about their bodies and making sure that the practice of fasting is contained within the holy month.

Make sure kids understand that there are valid exemptions from fasting, including illness. Eating disorders are illnesses, Jivanjee-Shakir said.

"Islamic doctrine really encourages the protection of the body," she said. "So if you're protecting your body by not fasting because it harms your mental or physical health, then you are in fact honoring Islam and you are honoring the religion. It doesn't make you a bad Muslim if you're not able to fast."

Advice for kids navigating school

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