Don’t worry, there are a lot of parents who are getting it right, so we can all learn from them.
I witnessed while on vacation a family of four at dinner: mom, dad, and two girls ages probably 6 and 4. The restaurant choice for the family made me curious right off the bat, because we were at a modern Asian restaurant.
I watched as the family sat down and the two girls seemed slightly fussy, one wanting to go back to the pool and the other saying she is hungry. When the server came over to the table, I was expecting one of the parents to order for the girls…
But I Was Pleasantly Surprised
The youngest girl stated loudly
“I will have the fried rice please.”
And her sister (the older of the two) quickly followed with,
“I would like the California roll, only no avocado please.”
When her dad asked the server to put the avocado on the side, the girl whined a little, but then said “Ok, I will try a bite one more time.”
As the parents ordered, I stared at the table in shock.
The amount of good parenting choices that lead up to this moment must have been high.
Let’s examine this further…
Children have to be taught to try new things.
There are endless books, movies, television shows, etc. talking about how gross broccoli and brussel sprouts are. When given the option as to whether or not to eat the vegetables, children will decide vegetables are gross. It is up to a parent to not give their child an option but to try new things. This by no means should be interpreted as forcing food on your child, however, it does mean that they do not get their own version of dinner. Show your child how to try new things! This may involve some acting on your part, but try it.
You are the MOST IMPORTANT model in your child’s life and even though it may take a few times, your child will feel more comfortable expanding their boundaries.
I call this, “the offer should always stand” policy. With teens, you know as well as I do, when you try to get them to talk about a topic, they tend to shy away. When given the freedom to come to you because you continue to repeat the offer of being available to talk, they have the security of knowing they can come to you. Security is really the biggest part of teaching your child to explore.
- Just like how you don’t put your child on a bike for the first time and let go, you need to do the same with food….slowly introduce it, back off if they are scared, but show them there is nothing scary about it.
- The father in this situation challenged his daughter in an age appropriate way. He encouraged her to give herself the option of trying the avocado, without even saying it!
Every day we have the choice to wake up and decide to be the best person we can be.
Be the best parent you can be and engage with your child.
Their mental and emotional health is at stake.