Want to know why kids play out their control issues around food?
Control is like beauty, it's in the eye of the beholder.
- You have to eat your peas before your pie.
- You have to eat your peas if you want to have any pie.
- If you want seconds of pasta you have to eat more of your peas.
- You have to eat 4 more spoonfuls of peas before you can leave the table.
- You have must at least try a bite of peas.
- If you don't at least try one bite of peas then you won't be able to watch television later.
- I'll make you your chicken nuggets but you have to eat your peas first.
You get my point.
We can't try to control our kids around food and then act surprised when they try to control us back. It's a lesson well learned.
Read Raising Lawyers.
I'm not suggesting that you let your kids rule the roost, or in this case, the kitchen.
There's a fine line between structure and control. Structure is good. It's necessary. It's what makes the whole system work. Control? Not so much.
Everytime you control what your kids do--or do not--eat, you are teaching your kids that food is arena for control. It's like deliberately showing your kids when and how to be the most difficult.
Don't think you're being controlling? Guess again. When a team of Pennsylvania State University researchers asked a group of parents and their five-year-old daughters about pressure (which, I think we can all agree is a form of control):
- Only 26% of parents said they pressured their daugthers to eat
- 61% of the girls said their parents used pressure tactics to get them to eat
That's a huge divide.
What you can do instead: Kids...
- Won't eat their veggies? Use the Happy Bite Rule.
- Want seconds of pasta before they've had their peas? Teach them One-One.
- Want to leave the table before you think they're done? Implement Eating Zones.
- Won't try the peas? Teach them how to be good tasters.
- Want to eat chicken nuggets every night? Use the Rotation Rule.
~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~