by Tovah Klein
Every parent wants their child to eat well. But making that happen is not always easy, especially if your child has a narrow range of foods they will eat. You needn’t worry. Based on decades of working with young children and families, and supported by research findings, there are tried and true ways to set good lifelong eating patterns that begin in early childhood.
Parents often want to control what children eat. That can backfire, as children do not learn how to trust their own body signals about when they are hungry or full. So, instead of pressuring children to ‘eat healthy’ or ‘eat more vegetables’ and focusing your attention on what or how much your child is eating, good food habits can be set up through modeling and with these tips.
Below is a food roadmap to help your child become a healthy lifetime eater recommended by the child psychologist Tovah P. Klein, PhD:
Roadmap showing few Serial Nudges:
1) Regular mealtime routines are the key: eat at a table, usually in the same place, with adults and children eating together. Children, especially young ones, like routine and will eat better with this continuity.
2)Model mealtime behavior. Children follow what they experience. Create enjoyable and conversational mealtimes that are NOT focused on food. Children get socialized in meal behavior and establish positive associations with eating. Talk about your day, their day, anything fun, interesting or light.
3) Include children in food preparation when time allows (weekends are good). Online resources abound such as http://www.childrensrecipes.com/
4) Same with shopping- take your kids to the store or farmers market and let them pick items framed by you (i.e., “Would you like carrots or broccoli?” “Should we get Cheerios or cornflakes?”). It lets them be part of the process and decision making while providing them a sense of control.
To be continued…
The next 6 step of this roadmap will be published soon, so stay tuned in NudgingforKids!