Food and feeding often seems to change our parenting. We feel very confident in how to react, support and discipline in all other areas. Then it comes to food and we are not sure what to say and do.
There are a few reasons for this:
1. Feeding is very biologically hard-wired.
2. If we can't feed our child what we believe they need for optimal health and growth we can feel guilt and even that we're failing on some level.
I saw this on another site this morning and although Emma makes some interesting points, she seems to be missing one of the key components.
What about the consumer?
It's all very well and good sending a Nadia Lim-esque lunchbox filled with expensive, fresh ingredients but if that is not what is within your picky child's comfort zone it's going to boomerang.
I am not advocating for processed foods but it's important that children eat when they are at school. No one can go 8 hours with no food and there are many parents struggling with this very issue daily.
As parents we're the most important relationship in our child's life.
Well, until they become a teen and then it's digital media ;)
The key indicator across cultures and countries for having children who willingly eat vegetables is having parents who do.
We are role models for our children and they are far more likely to follow what we do rather than what we say.
Even with children who are naturally more picky, it is crucial that we give them an example to follow and set the bar high.
Most parents either reach the stage where they almost give up on fussy eating or go through phases where it's just all too hard so they stop trying for a while.
Ironically, this is not always a bad thing. Constantly being worried/stressed/guilty is not positive for us and by extension for our families. Being able to step back from the eating and focus on all the other positive things that are happening for us and for our child is a good thing.
Having our child consistently in the eating spotlight is not supportive of competent eating either so often stepping back may enable them to step forwards.
If though, you are finding that you have reached a point where your child has not made any progress for a long time or definitely if they are going backwards then it's time to look for support.
Often knowing what's normal, what's a phase and when to press the worry button is reassuring. Check out the check-list on the website if you're not sure where your child sits in terms of their eating:
I know many parents live with years of frustration, guilt and stress as they feel that tackling their child's eating is just too tall a mountain. Like many things we wait for the "right" time and that never seems to roll around.
The longer we leave it the more insurmountable it seems, and the more we feel our child is going to be the one that can't be helped.
1. Much of what we implement at The Confident Eater is positive, non-stressful and is great for both parents and children. I know that parents are often surprised at how enthusiastic children are about many of the changes we implement.
2. You are gifted bite-sized chunks that you can tackle at your own pace. A plan that can be followed. Practical strategies that are simple to implement. Language, structure and approaches that make sense.
3. You are the difference. In almost all cases parents are the ones best placed to support their child. You know your child best. You have a vested interest in making sure they are supported to be as eating competent as possible. Knowing that you can enable change, that you have a plan and know how to do things is very empowering.
This is not always true (we'll get to that) but for many picky eaters it's the easiest meal of the day. Parents often tell me that they have no issues with breakfast.
1. We have been asleep for hours (hopefully) and therefore not eating. Having an appetite supports eating.
2. Dinner is often the most challenging meal of the day. If our child hasn't eaten much then it will mean that they are really looking forward to eating in the morning.
I was delighted to be asked to write for TeachersMatter. A magazine published by Spectrum Education, distributed to teachers across Australia and NZ (and internationally via the web). The magazine focuses on educational topics for teachers/parents, supporting children's development.
My first article discusses whether picky eating is a problem and focuses on children at the extreme end of the eating spectrum.I'm really pleased to be able to share it with you:
I love receiving e-mails like this!
Every picky child is different meaning results vary between families so, I'm always delighted when there is a really dramatic change.
This little boy, Oliver* was 2 1/2, so younger than the children I would generally work with. However, he was also one of the children who stopped eating variety very early on.
Like many children who struggle to eat, Oliver wasn't eating any family foods at all during dinner and couldn't wait to leave the table.
During the first week after attending a personalised Parent Workshop his parents implemented a series of changes. Oliver responded really positively and was able to try several new foods.
Most importantly he is happy to be at the dinner table which is huge for the whole family.
Not everyone sees magical results but there are many families who do. If you'd like to understand more about what we do and what expectations are for your own situation please get in touch.
I'm happy to speak to anyone who'd like to know whether one of our programs are right for them.
(*Story shared with permission. Name changed for privacy)
Judith is passionate about good food and is even more passionate about enabling other people to enjoy the wide variety of fresh food available today.