By: Anna M. Aquino.
This summer my family and I were traveling and visiting extended relatives. We were at a large gathering when my youngest daughter
kept asking me to pass her the raw veggie tray. She’d grab a handful of carrots and broccoli, go play, and then come back for more. Truthfully I didn’t think much about it. My kids have always been good vegetable eaters minus the time I tried to feed
them Brussels sprouts and my youngest took one look at them and told me her grandfather had told her that I should feed them cereal that night. I had been conversing with another mother while my daughter kept grazing on her vegetables.The mother stopped what she was saying looked at my youngest and asked, “How did you teach her to do that? I feel like I’m on a Hidden Valley Ranch commercial?” I smiled trying to figure out how to respond to her.
I believe picky eaters are both born and created. In my house you eat what I put on your plate or you don?t eat. Maybe the thought sounds old fashioned to people. I would never force my children to eat, but if they don’t want to eat then they can starve. It’s their choice, but I will not give them a treat later when they decide their hungry unless they’ve finished all their meal. I’ve gone so far to put their meal back in the refrigerator until they decide their hungry, however they will sit with us as a family while we eat if they decide their not hungry. I have known of one mother who has gone so far to feed the child their left over dinner for breakfast if they’re really fighting them on it. I have never done this, but I do see the point. I have been blessed that neither of my children are really picky eaters.We have had challenges with my youngest only because she doesn’t want to set still long enough to eat but pickiness isn’t her issue.You have to discern is the picky eating out of true dislike for the food or out of manipulation? I have noticed time and time again children turning mealtimes into an evening of horror for the family. A child begging for a piece of bread then throwing it at the parent when they decide they don’t want it. It wasn’t about the piece of bread. It was about that child trying to take the authority in the parental dynamic. Or parents not making their children set down and eat as a family so you find kids running around the house with a cereal bar in their hand and a Sippy in the other.Again in this scenario it’s not about the child running around the house. It’s about who is in the driver?s seat.Children are not dumb.They will use whatever they can to manipulate.Sadly mealtimes are high manipulation times in many households. Really you must choose as a parent who is supposed to obey who? Here are some tips I’ve come up with:
1) Make a habit that children understand they are having dinner as a family as much as possible.In that time: shut the TV off, put your cell phone on mute, and ignore all distractions.The benefits of children eating with the family, as a family unit, have been studied time and time again as helping create a well-rounded child. I haven’t been perfect at this, however keep working on it. While it might be easier to get a Happy Meal and put a child in front of the TV, it’s not healthier.
2) Make dinner time a time where they can tell you about their day. It’s amazing how many things I’ve learned about both of my children at this time.They also learn the art of conversation. I’ve had to correct them numerous times about when to say excuse me, or what to do when their water ends up spilling on the floor. They learn at meal times to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. Manners do not have to be a dying art in our society.
3) Don’t purposely set yourself up for failure. I mentioned how my kids don’t like Brussels sprouts, so I don’t make them as a whole. My kids love just about every other vegetable and I really don’t think that I need to fight with them about it. I’m picking my battles. If your child likes carrots but hates beets then why sweat the small stuff?
4) Don’t let your children fill up before dinner. My youngest likes to come home from school and graze. We have to put a stop to this because then she won’t eat her dinner and we end up into a fight. So, she can have a small snack after school, but only one.Then she has to wait until dinner.
5) Stand your ground. I make my children whether they say they like something or not, to at least take a bite.I have had my youngest throw nasty fights over this.My solution is we?re just going to set at the table until she takes a bite.So many times we’ve had that fight she takes the bite, and says “Mommy, I like that?” Encouraging your child to experience new tastes and try new things helps them in life to do the same.Mealtimes don?t have to make you want to cry.You can choose to take back the authority in your household. Just stay consistent. Consistency with your children is the key to any lesson you teach them. My kids aren’t perfect and I’m not a perfect parent. Hidden Valley isn’t set up in my backyard, and Brussels sprouts were never replaced with cereal. But my kids know what is expected of them. They like raw veggies.I encourage that, and they’ll be healthier adults because of it.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Anna M. Aquino is a super fabulous woman of God, wife and mother of two daughters. Her bi-weekly Biblical teaching blog is read around the world and translated in India.That can be viewed at www.annamaquino.blogspot.com She’s been published in various publications. In addition Ms. Aquino has a new book,Cursing the Church or Helping it? Exposing the
spirit of Balaam set to release with Destiny Image Publishers in March of 2012. If you would like to learn more about her please visit her website at www.annamaquino.com.
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