“Eat more!” “How about a bite of this?” “Don’t you want to try this yummy food?” “You have to finish your dinner if you want dessert.”
Does this sound familiar to you? Or, are do these sayings sound more like your house?
“Stop eating so much!” “You’ve had enough.” “If you want to eat more, you can have some broccoli.”
These are common phrases heard around the dinner table. If they sound familiar to you, and you want to change, it is possible.
One of the most common reasons that parents end up coaxing their children to eat more or less is due to an expectation the parent has. Do you have a belief that children should eat a certain amount every meal or certain foods every meal? If so, then likely, you are often trying to negotiate, coax, or maybe you end up demanding your child eat or not eat at mealtimes.
Over the holidays, we were out at a meal where a grandma was trying to tell the toddler in the family that he had had enough to eat when he had finished the porridge his mother had brought for him. Up to that point, he had happily been eating and showing interest in the food that was on the table. He was trying to grab for the bread that everyone else was eating, and looked like he was still hungry, wanting to eat. The grandma kept telling him that he had eaten enough.
In this scenario, what would you do?
This grandma is obviously very caring and wants the best for the toddler. That being said, she had an expectation in her mind that the baby should only consume a certain amount at any given meal and he had met that amount. Perhaps, this was a worry that the child would over eat, or maybe she has concerns he will be overweight. Everyone has these expectations or beliefs – often it is driven by fear that the child is too big/small or for a child to be healthy. This is also coupled with the knowledge that meals should be balanced and there is fear that a child is not eating a balanced meal.
If this is happening in your house, when you start encouraging your child’s intake, check in with yourself and see what is your underlying thought. Do you have a fear about your child’s size? Health? Nutrition? Balanced meals? If you do, don’t be hard on yourself. Almost everyone has these ideas in their heads. It is from the years of eating and learning that we develop these beliefs and it often unconsciously comes through at mealtimes.
If you have come to a realization with this story, please drop me a line. I would love to know what you now better understand.
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