As parents, everyone has aspects of parenting that they are more comfortable and confident with than others, and those that you are comfortable and confident with, you are more relaxed with. For a lot of parents, eating is something that there is a lot of concern over, thus parents are more concerned and controlling over many aspects of eating. This can include cleanliness (example, food that falls on the table cannot be consumed, baby cannot get food on his hands, clothes need to be kept clean, food cannot be consumed with hands etc), what foods are consumed, and how much is consumed. One way parents often control many of these concerns is by feeding their child.
From the time a baby starts eating solid foods, kids can start gaining confidence in feeding themselves and being able to take care of themselves. Parents who are concerned with their kids’ weight, intake, and health often end up feeding their kids, sometimes even when kids are well into childhood, eroding at a kids’ confidence to be able to understand and take care of their own needs. It is out of parental anxiety that this feeding usually occurs – be it an occasional desperation under time pressure or worry over a child’s size. No matter what your motivation, when you have a moment, step back and consider: How would you feel if a friend came up to you and told you to open and put a spoonful of food in your mouth? You may feel surprised or cared for or you may not like being told you have to eat, especially if you don’t like the food that is given to you or are not hungry. Your response can range, just like a child’s, but you also know that you have a choice and the ability to say no. Does your kid have that option?
If you are struggling with your child eating, this is a good starting point to think about. Does your child really not like eating, or are there other pressures she is feeling that are causing her to act the way she is. By empowering your child with their eating, you are also encouraging their confidence in being self-sufficient. Next time you have the urge to feed your child, take a deep breath and see what they do if you encourage them to do it on their own.