|Posted on July 18, 2012 at 9:00 AM|
The relationship my toddler has with food is one of my biggest parenting challenges to date. I think this is one of those parenting obstacles that other parents forget to tell you about.
You hear about the lack of sleep, the fit throwing, the constant colds…but nobody warned me, “oh by the way, kids have their own opinions when it comes to eating; good luck.”
I used to spend way too many hours pondering these questions: Am I feeding him the right things? Is he getting enough vegetables? Is he eating enough? Why does he only want milk?
Then, I happened across this book at a garage sale, “How ToGet Your Kid To Eat: But Not Too Much” by Ellyn Satter. The seller of this book highly recommended it so I thought I would give it a try. Now…I highly recommend it to other parents.
Here is a summary of the main points I took away from this book:
This is the most important point I took away from this book. The author notes several times that over parenting in the food department doesn’t work. I have found my son actually eats more when I focus on eating my own meal rather than what he is doing with his plate.
I am reminded of this every time I hear myself pleading, “don’t you want another bite of chicken?” and I make an effort to stop myself. This book notes that applying pressure actually makes a child want to eat that food less. This point also gives me an out from having to play the airplane-into-your-mouth game. Although I still sometimes play the blow-air-through-your-penne-pasta game.
Before reading this book, I was waiting for my child to tell me he was hungry. And when he did it was in the form of, “more milk please.” Well duh, now it seems so obvious but yet it wasn’t to me. Now we sit at the table for most snack times; my son looks forward to his after school snack and immediately goes to his chair when we walk in the door.
Along with the goal of trying to have vegetables, fruit and protein add some sort of starch like bread or rice. If your child doesn’t like what you are having for dinner they can always resort to bread. Again, your main goal is to control what food is in front of them and the child controls what they eat.
I think this point is really designed to help alleviate the parent guilt – and I love it. Chili from a can for dinner? Oh well, so I didn’t offer up my best entre this evening. I can’t be super mom every day. Add some cut up cucumbers, a piece of fruit and a slice of bread and your child has instant variety. And I am not going to feel bad about it – so there!
What a true statement. Coming to terms with the fact that my child often only eats every third day has been a guilt ridden process. I have gotten much better at reminding myself this is just how it works for him!
We have all heard this one but I still have to say it. The pros of family interaction that take place during meal time have been proven in studies over and over but it also plays an important role in food behavior. Setting an example that meal time is an enjoyable place to be provides an environment that kids want to be in.
Before I became a parent, a good friend of mine used the One Bite Rule with her kids. She called it the “No ThankYou Bite” and her kids had to take one bite. I thought this was a great rule and still do. Although now I understand that the words, “had to” and child don’t always mix. Meaning, there are some strong willed kids out there that are simply not going take a bite no matter how much begging, threatening or waiting you do. I have heard numerous stories…the child who sat at the table for 3 hours or the child who puked after taking his one bite. The author of this book points out that this is where you have to assess your child. Are they that strong willed child? Then you probably don’t want to try and enforce this rule. Is she worried she won’t like it? Then give her an out, allow her to take the food back out of her mouth if she doesn’t like it.
This continues to be my number one problem with my toddler. He wants milk and he wants it all the time. He fills up on milk and doesn’t want any food. Milk is his soother. I have even tried, to no avail, getting him hooked on juice instead – ha! Reading this book gave me the courage to simply start saying no. I say no to the second glass he always ask for. I limit his milk to meal times and post sleep times (I haven’t found the courage to say no as he sweetly asks for milk with one red cheek and nap hair).
Other useful discussion points in this book:
This book has been very helpful for me. However, it doesn’t mean meal time is perfect. My child still eats more Pirates Booty (baked corn puffs) at snack time than cantaloupe and I still hear myself saying, “you can have more crackers after you eat a grape.” But I still feel highly successful from the small steps this author has helped me to implement. And even though I still think about my toddler and his relationship with food much too often…the guilt has decreased substantially.
Categories: Kid Solutions