90% of parents interfere with their kid’s eating
I’ve done it and I have to stop myself multiple times a week from trying to control my daughters eating. I still do on occasion mess up and cross over and try to do her job of eating.
We’ve been taught that we must control our kids and get them to eat and sometimes it’s really hard to let go and trust.
I work with parents using Ellyn Satter’s Division of Responsibility. The division of responsibility has clear jobs for parents and for kids and it’s built on trust.
It requires you as the parent to provide a variety of food and the structure of regular meals and snacks for your child so they have lots of opportunities to practice and learn how to eat the food the family eats. It also requires you to provide a positive and pressure-free environment for your child so they can do their job of eating.
Below are some of the common control messages we use with our kids and also some trust messages you can use instead.
You’ve had enough
Have a few more bites
Finish your vegetables before you can have more pasta (or any other food you feel is less healthy than vegetables)
Finish eating your dinner before you can have dessert
Do you really need more? That’s a lot of food
Giving them a look of concern or physically taking food away from them
Just try a few bites
How do you know you don’t like it if you haven’t tried it
Eat as much as you are hungry for
You decide how much to put on your plate
You don’t have to eat anything you don’t want to eat
Ultimately, it boils down to looking at your intention. Is your intention to GET your child to eat more or less by whatever you are doing or saying? If so, then you aren’t trusting your child to do their job which is to decide if and how much they will eat of the food you provide.
The goal is to build that positive relationship with your child around meal times so that they have a positive relationship with food. Their behaviors around food are more important than the food they eat at a specific mealtimes. If they have a positive relationship with food they will try more foods on their own and eventually eat a variety of foods.