How many times do you say “take another bite” or “eat three bites of your carrot before your pasta” during a supper???? Get your partner to check on you and actually count how many times you make suggestions on how much your child should eat.
My therapy sessions always involve a snack or mealtime. More often than not, I can’t help but be overwhelmed with the jackhammer nature of parent commenting at the table. I was completing an initial assessment last week and brought out a food that was new to the child. I simply placed it on the table without a word. Before I had the chance to open my mouth, the mom suggested ” ______, eat the cracker”. It was quickly followed by “do you want to try the cracker?” And then “why don’t you take a bite of the cracker?”. All in the span of literally 10 seconds.
I respectfully asked her to leave the cracker alone and we moved to a different topic. Later, I put the cracker to my mouth and said “I wonder if this will make a loud crunch?” I popped the cracker in my mouth and without skipping a beat, the little boy did the same. Now, I know that I was a novel person, NOT the mom and likely that helped my cause. At the same time, not once did I suggest that the child HAD to eat it. Now don’t get me wrong! I know it is not always this easy and just because the child followed my lead the first time it doesn’t mean this is a new food in his repertoire. I still see it as a success because it is a step closer to accepting the food. He learned a lot about the food and even if he didn’t like it, maybe next time we can add something to it to make it more enjoyable (i.e. spread hummus on it or dip it in soup to make it less crunchy if the crunch turned him off).
Think about your language during mealtime and how you can decrease the number of times you direct your child’s eating. There are certainly going to be times when you ask if they want to take a bite. Just be aware of how frequently you are doing it and back off if it is more than a couple times in a meal.
- where the food grows
- the temperature of the food
- the sound the food makes in your mouth
- how the food feels
- what the food looks like
Food for thought. We last talked about this in my picky eating series.