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Healthy Eating for Kids
kids healthy eating is not a lecture, it is a parental practice through which
children observe and learn. Further, although kids may whine and squirm and even
outright reject whatís on the plate, parents must come to realize that being
held hostage by childish control strategies only improperly empowers children
and thus creates greater feeding difficulties in the long run.
is the parents who are in control of what food comes into the house, how it is
prepared and how it is served. Meal design, food purchases, preparation and
service thus become the real feeding grounds for developing healthy eating by
our kids as managed by parents.
can be involved in all the areas of meal design, food purchase, preparation and
service Ė at parents and childís discretion. While children may be involved
at any step along the way, it is up to the parent to direct the options
available to the child so that decisions are made within a range of healthy
parents havenít managed the process of developing healthy eating habits, kids
may come to think they are in charge or have more say than is appropriate. If
this is the case, wrestling control back from the hands of the child, to the
parent can be a challenge. Parents must understand that kids will chose not
necessarily what is best, but what is most enjoyable from ease of preparation to
overly salty or sugary foods. When parents look to change their childís eating
habits, they can expect objections and protests. Parents who give in to such
behaviour only serve to teach their children that that behaviour pays off and
thus the parent increases the likelihood that the child will continue to use
those strategies whenever faced with things not to their liking. When parents
seek to alter a childís direction, the parent must be able to withstand the
objections and protest and hold their own ground. Thus the child eventually
learns that the parent means business and that the inappropriate strategies are
are some tips for managing childrenís healthy eating.
Depending on the age of the child, spend some time talking and
constructing meal plans together. Remember though, parents guide the process and
cannot be swayed or negotiated into poor decisions. Donít use a poor decision
to reinforce a good one.
Parents and child can go shopping together. When purchasing fruits and
vegetables, ask the grocery clerk to help determine what is the freshest or
ripest. Listen and learn with your child and go about smelling the produce and
fruits together. Remember, it canít come into the house if you the parent
donít buy it!
Unpack groceries together. This serves to teach your children the efforts
involved in getting food from the store to home. Thank your child for their
assistance. Let your child know how much they are appreciated.
Prepare snacks and meals together. Let the kids participate and have fun
along the way. Think of meal preparation as a science experiment or art class.
Wonder how flavours will go together or how things might look when cooked or put
to the plate. Use the time to enjoy each otherís company. This will be very
new territory for many kids and parents alike. However, it remains the
parentís responsibility to show their appreciation and love to their child
during the process, regardless of how much or little the child actually
participates. Their mere presence, for however long, is to be reinforced.
Finally, sit down and enjoy the eating together. Statistically, the more
meals a family enjoys together, the better behaved and adjusted the children
tend to be. Further, parents are more in touch with their childrenís lives and
together they have better rapport. As a result of the better rapport, parents
actually hold more influence with their children than do the childrenís peers.
This becomes an essential element come the childís adolescence when parents
seek to protect their kids from more serious social issues.
remember that developing healthy eating habits is not a race or a destination.
It is a process over time. Ignore the setbacks and build on each dayís
successes. Successes are there if you concentrate on finding them as opposed to
being distracted by upsets.
Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
Call Gary for your next conference and for expert opinion on family matters. Services include counselling, mediation, assessment, assessment critiques and workshops.
For information on Direnfeld's book, Raising Kids Without Raising Cane, click here.
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