Hi Rock Star Parents!
Today is another installment of “What Should I Do? Wednesdays”. Thanks so much to the blog subscriber who sent me this question: How can I get my six-year-old son to eat what we are eating? I love this question. I love this especially because I have struggled with it FOR-EV-ER! My boys are 12 and 13 – and it is one of the parenting things I would have done differently if given the chance again.
I think it’s fair to say that many of us grew up in households where you ate what was put in front of you – or you didn’t eat. What exactly happened to that line of thinking? There are many reasons parents end up as short order cooks for their kids – and by that, I mean making something that you know they want or know they will eat for sure for every meal. In this day, allergies, work schedules, food aversions, tantrums, and just plain parent frustration and fear contribute to this kind of environment. When my boys were small, I was always nervous about their weight and always worried that they were eating enough. I offered many different types of foods like all the books tell you, but I soon fell into the trap of giving them what they would eat and eat happily. I’m sure there are many of you that are experiencing the same thing or have done that in the past – it’s so hard at the end of a long day to stand your ground, offering foods that you’ve made that are then thrown on the floor, not wanted, or not eaten. Add to that the anxiety that comes with worrying that your child will be – GASP- hungry! So if you are one of those parents who fell into the trap – don’t worry! It’s ok, and it can be reversed.
The whole idea is that you, your partner, and any caregivers need to all be on the same page before you begin. That means that this will work most quickly and effectively if no one caves. Seriously. It’s going to get ugly. There will be fits, possibly tantrums, hunger strikes, tears, and just plain chaos. You will get through it. The key is that your child needs to learn and understand quickly that there is no other option than what is being served. Choose a start date and before you begin, you and your partner sit down with your children and let them know that from now on, everyone will be eating the same meal. I do think it’s fair warning, considering that you’ve been accommodating their palate for years, and are now changing it up. Ideally, you will sit down and eat together as a family. If this is not your reality, that’s fine, but make sure that whenever everyone eats, it’s all from the same ONE meal that you made. The bottom line is – and it’s true – your child will eat when hungry. Unless you have specific instructions from your doctor that say otherwise, you must bite the bullet and stick with it even if they go on a hunger strike. Make them a plate and that’s their dinner. They eat it or they don’t. It doesn’t have to be complicated, yet we as parents seem to over analyze it all, don’t we? Give yourself a solid six weeks of this plan and you should expect to see improvement.