It does not matter what your child ate for dinner or how much of the lovingly packed lunch he brought back from school untouched.
What does matter is what you serve (or pack) for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
If you follow the division of responsibly in feeding you get to decide what, when and where to feed your child and your child becomes responsible for choosing what and how much to eat.
Here are the signs that your “troops” are on your child’s territory in feeding:
- You encourage your child to take one more bite
- You offer alternatives or go the “short order cooking” route
- You play “here goes an airplane”
- You look at your child every time he takes a bite instead of enjoying YOUR own meal
- You bribe the child with dessert or TV to make him eat his meal
- You praise your child for eating certain foods.
What might happens next?
- You become stressed and start feeling helpless because it is very difficult to make a child eat more or restrict certain foods
- Your child feels the tension at dinner table and eats even less. Do you have a lot of appetite when someone is watching your every bite or, even worse, fighting with you while you are eating?
- Your child feels deprived and eats more of the restricted foods when he gets a chance
- Self-regulation is undermined because eating gets entangled in a bunch of emotional issues, including the desire to make you happy, avoid the punishment, get an award, etc.
- The child will not enjoy mealtimes and it will affect his appetite and willingness to try new foods.
Instead, make sure your job in feeding is done top-notch:
- Relax and enjoy your meal with a glass of wine (optional)
- Provide structure in meals and snacks and limit unscheduled snacking
- Serve the a variety of nutritious foods you want your family to eat
- Serve meals family style and allow your child to pick and choose what and how much he wants to eat.
Stop feeling guilty for what your child is or is not eating and instead focus on your part in feeding and the results will not make you wait!
Gregory J., Paxton S., Brozovic A. Pressure to eat and restriction are associated with child eating behaviours and maternal concern about child weight, but not child body mass index, in 2- to 4-year-old children. Appetite 54 (2010) 550–556
Orrel-Valentea J, Hillb L., Brechwaldc W., Dodged K, Pettite G, Batesf G.‘‘Just three more bites’’: An observational analysis of parents’ socialization of children’s eating at mealtime. Appetite 48 (2007) 37–45
Webber L, Cooke L, Hill C, Wardle J. Associations between children’s appetitive traits and maternal feeding practices. J Am Diet Assoc. 2010;110(11):1718-1722.