TIME BREAKFASTS AND LUNCHES
I get so many requests for suggestions for hassles around
food, at the family table and in the lunch box. Anything that
goes into or comes out of your kid’s body is a prime
target for a power struggle. And what with all you super parents
wanting to make sure your kids are healthy YOU are prime targets
for some excellent hoop jumping training by your children.
This training ends up taking the form of you becoming a short
order cook, waitress, eating nag and toilet monitor. Here’s
how to let go of your end of the power struggle rope. And
just in case you’d like to think that this has nothing
to do with you and everything to do with your child: We never
have to look far to find the person who trained your child
how to engage in power struggles, AND any time you find yourself
wanting to “make them” do anything you are hooked
AND it fall to us adults to take the high road and set the
good example of stopping the vicious power struggle cycle.
Sounds great doesn’t it? Now for how to do it:
Decide what YOU will do, not what you will try to make them
Tell your entire family your new plan.
Take time for training at neutral times. Make training fun
and short, end on a high note with them wanting more.
Make lunch the night before TOGETHER from toddlers on. For
the little ones offer the choice between two options for each
food group. Have your child pack the lunch box. From 4-5 years
on teach your child to make sandwiches and start turning over
more and more responsibilities. If you start by 4 - 5 years
your child should be self sufficient by 6 or first grade,
meaning they make their own lunch ALONE!
Set up an area of the fridge and pantry so that your child
can find accepted foods for breakfast, snacks and lunches.
For the little ones set out one serving containers until they
can manage larger sized containers.
Train your children how to prepare simple breakfasts and
snacks from 2 1/2 years on. A 3 year old, with training, can
make their own breakfasts and snacks. Once they can, make
school morning breakfasts self serve. Save those fancy family
breakfasts for the weekends and holidays.
Put labeled water bottles for every family member in the
fridge so they can get their own water. Train 4 year olds
how to fill their own bottles the night before. Take turns
filling younger kids with them.
Make dinners together from 3 years on, the little ones can
scrub veggies and make salads (with training) and set the
table. Set up weekly menus together, let everyone have a night
to choose the entree. Take turns choosing side dishes. Plan
several healthy choices.
Put the food on the table in bowls. Let everyone serve themselves.
Teach toddlers how to serve themselves using child friendly
tongs and spoons. Make NO comment about anyone’s choices.
Keep your conversations non food related, pleasant and chit
chatty. Share news, avoid problem solving and issues. Offer
the option of a self serve snack from the acceptable snacks
in the fridge or pantry. Make NO COMMENT, DO NOT OFFER TO
MAKE A SUBSTITUTION!
Enjoy your food and the company of your family. If someone
is to hook you into your old response, try to find the wherewithal
to laugh and say “Good Try! That doesn’t work
on me any more!” Wear ear plugs during the training
period if your family is really good at getting you involved
in their efforts to get you to go back to your old ways of
being a short order cook or jump through their hoops to serve
up other options or buy into their starvation dramas. Let
them be in charge of their own meal since you clearly can’t
be trusted to meet their every demand. Simply put, redefine
your role, cook at least one thing you enjoy and reclaim your
freedom from the tyranny of the kitchen or your family.
Ask yourself, Is your family’s diet balanced over a
month?, if so GREAT! Then have some fun meals like pop corn
and fruit for dinner. If not then take the next month to introduce
some new foods, SLOWLY.
Remind yourself that even if your child only eats fruit and
yogurt and crackers, it won’t last forever. Relax, sneak
some protein powder into a fruit smoothie once a day and refuse
to coax, or nag.
Set up a trying food policy and initiate it as a given for
every member of the family, so that parents too take trial
bites at the same time as the kids.
This too will pass! Try to see the humor and enjoy the phases,
they will all too soon pass. Plus they’ll make great
stories when your kids are grown.