Handling Family Members Comments
“That has too much sugar in it, it’s bad for your teeth.”
“I can’t eat that, it will make me fat.”
Comments like these, if they are directed toward your child or not, send a message to your child. People often talk about food, not realizing the message they are giving, especially to small ears which are very receptive.
Young kids only have one filter as their brains are developing – good and bad. Everything ends up fitting into these categories, especially when it comes to food.
When family members are concerned with their own weight and talk about foods they can and cannot eat, kids hear which foods their family member thinks are “good” and “bad.” Kids do not understand all the nuances of language and meanings yet. Some kids may internalize they are bad for eating a food as it depends on their interpretation and then they may struggle if it is a food they like, for example, a cookie. They may enjoy cookies, but they heard their Uncle say that he cannot eat the cookie as he’s watching his weight. Now the child is wondering if they need to “watch their weight” when eating cookies, and they have a feeling cookies are “bad,” but they really like them. Ugh! What do you do?!
If you are around certain family members regularly, it is good to (yes, the broken record is playing again) have a conversation with them. Often, when trying to raise kids with positive relationships with food, the adults also need to be brought along to at least a certain extent to be aware of their own tendencies.
Here are some topics you may want to first think about where you stand on these topics, as answers to these questions will also affect your way to implement sDOR. After you are confident on where you stand, discuss with your family members regarding their views:
- What are your food beliefs? Do you label foods?
- How do you feel about your body? Your weight?
- Do you have a scale in your home that you use regularly?
By starting with these beliefs, it starts to bring awareness to you and your family members' beliefs as these beliefs come across when we talk unconsciously. As adults, we don’t often think about food before we say something like “that has a lot of sugar,” or “I shouldn’t eat too much of that.”
Changing a family member's behaviors and/or beliefs is difficult, but having an open conversation where you can explain your concerns for your child and the methods you are using are important for your child to have consistency in their mealtimes.
Hope this helps you and your family manage your family relationships a little easier when implementing sDOR. If you have any questions or comments, I would love to hear them.