Parents often ask me how to handle family mealtime power struggles. First, remember that you are not alone if mealtimes = stress/whining/arguing/negotiating in your house. Here are some simple ways to get mealtimes back on track:
Ellyn Satter describes what she calls a "division of responsibility" during mealtime in her book, Secrets of Feeding a Healthy Family. The following are important points to keep in mind:
The parent is responsible for What, When, and Where of mealtimes:
The child is responsible for How Much and Whether:
Since I am a Type A personality, you can imagine how hard it is for me to let my kids make all of their own decisions at the table. I mean, really, isn't 5 helpings of noodles a bit much? For me, yes, but maybe not for a growing 6-year-old boy. His body will tell him what he needs. And if my daughter loves bell peppers one day and not the next, that is up to her. My husband never imagined that it would happen, but I have learned to bite my tongue and keep my trap shut while my kids learn to listen to their own bodies - instead of to me - and every now and then, they surprise me and try a “good for you” food that’s on the table.
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