Monday, June 8, 2009

your child will test you...

We've been at this trust model of feeding in our home for the last two years now. Every day we are thankful that we don't have a struggle with feeding, yet every day there are still issues to deal with.  She whines over candy, asks for macaroni and cheese, leaves some things untouched on her plate... She still baits and tests us. (Isn't that what kids do?) 

Its not that a  child with a healthy, nurturing feeding relationship won't whine for candy, or always eats one portion of the stew you simmered all afternoon, but if you can feed in the trust model, you will see most of the time things can go really well. 

bait and ignore...

Last night at dinner, we had a salad with asparagus, peppers, avocado, and cherry tomatoes. M is not a huge fan of the lettuce, and mostly eats and asks for seconds of the "goodies." I add a few leaves to her bowl so she has access to them. Most days she leaves them behind. Last night, she announced, "I don't want the salad, part, I just want the goodies" with a leaf on her fork. Husband and I glanced over, said "fine," and continued our conversation (the usual that lasts about 45 seconds with a 3 year-old in the house) and she popped it in her mouth and ate it. (Don't forget- no praise, no reaction, it just is-save the high-fives with your partner for after dinner...)

Its a great lesson that I share with clients. Don't focus on the food. In fact, ignore your child occasionally. One client said that her child eats best when she is chatting with Dad or older Brother. Her son feels no pressure and can sneak up on new foods without all the fanfare.

Even after 2 years M still tests us, still baits us into the argument. After two years though, I no longer even think to say (like I did in the beginning...) "Honey, just have two bites, its really good for you, you know it will make you strong, just a few bites!"  It takes time as parents to relearn a way of thinking- to trust, to brush off the baiting, to feel comfortable with a meal of a few bites, or an extra-big breakfast. With time, you will see the changes, the peace at the family table, and the jokes shared instead of threats. And when you least expect it, your child will sneak up on a new food, pop it in his mouth and carry on with his meal. No drama, no threats, just dinner.

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