The following tips are for all the parents , who face some obstacles with their little ones’ eating habits. These tips will enhance peaceful and happy holidays together.
Mealtime! It can be the most pleasant time of day for a family. Unfortunately, for many families, mealtimes turn into unhappy times filled with squabbles & chaos that leave everybody upset. Kids fight with each other, fuss over their food, whine & complain. Parents yell, threaten & occasionally send misbehaving youngsters away from the table crying.
Let’s find out how parents can cope with mealtime misbehaviours & enjoy peaceful meals.
On Cleaning the Plate
Q: Do you believe in insisting that children eat everything that is on their plates at the table?
A: No. I believe the less fuss you make about what your children eat, the fewer problems you will have at mealtime.
(Editor: You could have each child decide on three foods which they like the least, & have an agreement that if one of these is served they could simply not take a helping of it & just eat the rest of the meal, but all other foods they would eat cheerfully.)
The role of parents is to make nutritious food available to their children for meals & snacks. Notice the difference between making food available & insisting that the kids eat all the food served in the amounts the parents feel are appropriate. It is not the role of the parent to force a child to eat everything that is served at every meal. In fact, such attempts to force a child to eat usually result in balky, picky eaters who hassle their parents at every meal.
Rotate your menus so that each person’s favourites appear eventually & that particular dislikes don’t appear continuously.
Eliminate snacks if you feel your kids don’t eat well at mealtime. There’s nothing like an empty stomach to convince a child to eat what’s served.
If your children consistently leave food on their plates, have you considered that perhaps you are giving them too much food?
Better yet, why not put the food on the table in large bowls & let the kids help themselves? Provide small serving utensils & small plates if the kids tend to take too much food.
Endless Eater Needs Limits
Q: My daughter, age seven, takes a full hour to eat dinner every night. Should I ignore her because some children are just naturally slow, or is there a way to make her eat faster?
A: I don’t think there is a trait called “naturally slow” that is passed along through genetic inheritance. Children often learn to eat slowly & to dawdle, however, as a way to gain special attention from parents or to engage parents in a power struggle.
Make a decision regarding how long dinner will remain on the table in your house. Thirty minutes should be enough time for any child to eat. Before the next meal, sit down with your children & explain that mealtimes are taking too long. Explain that from now on the table will be cleared at the end of thirty minutes, & no more food will be served until the next morning. In a calm, friendly voice explain that it is their decision how quickly or slowly to eat, & that you no longer will remind or nag them to finish.
At dinner that night, clear the table without a word at the end of thirty minutes. If there is still food on your daughter’s plate, give no postmortem lecture on why she should have eaten faster, & make no prediction about how hungry she’ll be later. Remember, silence is golden when a parent is taking appropriate action.
If your daughter comes to you later complaining of hunger, be friendly, acknowledge her feelings & let her know you’re looking forward to seeing her at breakfast. Do not engage in a long discussion about eating. Do not feel sorry for her; she will not starve by going to bed hungry. You need not feel like a terrible mother because your child is hungry; it was her choice to eat very slowly.
As soon as your daughter is allowed to experience the consequences of slow eating, she will learn to eat her dinner in the allotted time.
Make Peace with Picky Eater
Q: How can I get my child to stop being a picky eater?
A: You will lose, as long as mealtime is approached as a battle. Whether we like it or not, a child is in control of what goes into his mouth & what is swallowed! Yet there are ways to entice a child into wholesome eating habits.
One way is to give a child some choice of what is to be served. The scope of the choice depends upon the child’s age. A two-year-old can be given a choice between two or three different kinds of cereal in the morning. A nine-year-old can sit with a parent & help plan the weekly menus. Planning menus is the best time, by the way, for teaching a child about nutrition.
Another way to change a picky eater’s habits is for the parents to serve only healthful, nutritious foods for both meals & snacks, to let the child eat what he wishes, & not to be concerned if the child refuses to eat a certain food.
Set the examples by eating all foods served yourself. A child who constantly hears Mom & Dad refusing various foods will assume that he has the same prerogative.
Spillers Sponge the Spills
Q: My kids are very clumsy at the table. They spill food as they take it from the serving bowls. They frequently knock over juice or milk glasses. I’m tired of cleaning up their messes!
A: Good. I’m glad you’re tired of cleaning up their messes. You can stop doing that today. The people who should be cleaning up the messes are the people who make them.
Kids can clean up spills from serving bowls with sponges or paper towels. You can avoid some of their messes by paying careful attention to the type of serving utensils you use. Ladles & plastic measuring cups with long handles used in place of spoons make it easier to scoop food without spilling.
Raw Vegetables. Some youngsters complain of being hungry an hour before dinner is served & beg for snacks. For anyone who just can’t wait, accommodate this by having a bowl of raw veggies ready. Include any combination of carrot & celery sticks, cherry tomatoes, cauliflower & broccoli heads, cucumber slices & so forth. The snack itself is so light & healthful that it won’t matter if the kids eat their fill.
Clearing the Table. Everybody eats, so everybody should help clear the table. Any child old enough to sit on a regular chair at the table with the family is old enough to carry his or her own dishes from the table, scrape them & stack them appropriately. Adults are old enough too. If you clear your own dishes after eating, the kids will follow your example.
Kids Cooking. Teach each child in the family to prepare certain “specialties” for the family to enjoy. It cuts down on the parents’ work & it increases the child’s self-esteem. Give each child his own small metal box in which to file recipes. Children feel good as they watch their files expand.
Points to Remember:
* Recognise the power struggles that occur when a parent says, “Eat this,” & the child, by his stalling or picky behaviour, says, “You can’t make me.”
* The more attention a parent gives in coaxing or forcing a child to eat something, the more payoff the child gets by refusing.
* Serve only healthful, nutritious foods, for both meals & snacks. Then if your kids choose not to eat a particular food, they can have a nutritious meal by eating everything else.
* Involve the kids in planning, cooking & serving meals.
Excerpts from the article : LINDA ALBERT’S ADVICE FOR COPING WITH KIDS–By Linda Albert