The Power Struggle

(still one of my absolute favorite Calvin & Hobbes strips 😉 )

So as I mentioned previously before, up until about age 20 I was shamelessly one of the pickiest eaters known to man. Perhaps running off seven-hours from home in college is what did the trick to get me to try other foods. I was no longer shamed into eating or trying something, but somehow, something clicked inside my brain and the ball began rolling. Sure, I still don’t like certain foods and some continue to follow a similarity to me for what would be Satan’s navel piercing, but alas, I’m not a kid anymore and with age came SOME wisdom if any. *Yay*

Though credited as the weaker one of the five senses (crazy, huh??) we’re all driven by taste throughout our lives. That said, I started to wonder if this is really the reason that children are seen as the “picky eaters” in life. But this is pretty much as it goes: as the receptors in our brain are changing, so are the taste buds … pretty highly sensitive things to rely on when you’ve really only got a couple years of life on your roster. The appearance, the smell, just about every bit counts!

So of course with the sensitivity comes the toss-up: Will kids eat it? Or not? Pretty much somehow driving course to becoming a battle to the death at the table.

The familiar scenario: The little Foodette won’t eat it. Something they love is on the table, and they still won’t eat it. You make deals, you bribe, you threaten, you throw up your hands and wonder what’s it gonna take to get this kid to eat?

I’ll tell you what they’re gonna eat: nothing. And they will be sure of that. So give it up.

There’s literally no reason to stress about it. Basically, it boils down to having a choice: You can have your blood pressure rise and fall continuously over this constant power struggle, or you can surrender to the fact that children, as much as you’d like to think are the inferior party, know the hold they have over this part of their lives. You could argue until you’re blue in the face, and one of you is in tears, or you can both agree upon 2-bites of something, drink up whatever’s in your cup, and move on. Not to dessert (unless they ate!), but just moving on in general. The kid will get hungry, but they certainly won’t starve.

Look, just as you wouldn’t want someone to shove food down your throat, don’t do it to them. I don’t think I’d have grown up with half the issues with food that I had throughout my life if I wasn’t guilt-tripped, scolded, and forced into eating stuff I just didn’t want to. Find a balance, talk to kids, see what they’re interested in.

By all means, I’m not saying we should still limit children’s choices in the full-circle of eating. Chicken nuggets are great and the ones shaped like dinosaurs sure make it more exciting, but they’ll be capable of more interesting food if you keep having it make a special guest-star cameo in lives. While making guacamole, I once had a student who decided to snack on an entire handful of cilantro! 😛 saying it “tastes like coffee”. Hey, you never know 😉 We also had a student literally RUN from the guacamole because “it was green”. But lo n’ behold, they ate the most of it of anyone.

A few things I noticed that might help out a bit …

– Eat what everyone else is, and by “everyone”, it’s everyone at the table. Unless someone’s got allergies at the table, hopefully there’s already a good justice system in seeing everyone’s eating the same thing.

– You get what you get, and ya don’t get upset. The same goes for the consequences: you don’t eat? you don’t get the good stuff either (dessert). Tough break, but there’s always another day tomorrow. Try, try again. If there are tears? talk it out. If there’s protesting screaming, they’re asked to leave the table and go find something else to do.

COOK IT TOGETHER. If they’re not gonna eat it, at the very least, they’ll help with how it’s made and they’ll see just what goes into it.

– And again, the 2-bites Dealbreaker is a pretty classic take, with a drink of whatever’s in their cup. In the end, everyone’s gotta eat to feed the body. You need food to be healthy, and food to grow. They’ll be able to put 2-and-2 together after a while.

– oh yea, and ps, read a few books about food too! Perhaps it’ll get a few sparks flying here and there. (I’ve got a few personal favorites, and will definitely post them later)

– and again, no need to make eating a battlefield. It’s supposed to be a fun, joyful thing to do, for both adults and kids alike. And hey, it’s a privilege if you’ve got plenty of food at your disposal (but don’t despair if your kid doesn’t seem to care about that concept. It doesn’t mean they’re heartless! but most likely just something they probably can’t relate to)

Continuing on to promoting a hopeful, great future for the Foodettes?

I hope so. 😉

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