Reframing Expectations When It Comes to Feeding (Your Children)
In an ideal world, feeding our children can make us feel excitement, pleasure and joy. But in the real world, we know that we are just as likely, if not more so, to experience disappointment, frustration and exhaustion. There is so much effort that goes into planning and preparing meals for our families that when our child decides to take one bite or maybe even reject the meal altogether, we can’t help but feel like we did something wrong. I know I am guilty of this myself, and my baby has only been eating solids for a little over a month!
Kids have a mind of their own, and many factors can affect their interest in eating a meal. Here is just a short list of them:
- Lack of hunger
- Distractions (TV, books, music, animals, etc.)
- Food appearances
Of course, we can take measures to set our children up for success by making sure they are just the right amount of hungry at mealtimes, have limited distractions and are offered a preferred food at each meal. However, there are always going to be other factors beyond our control.
As a side note, I also want to make it very clear that I don’t ever recommend catering to your child, but rather considering their likes and dislikes! This means that if you are serving spaghetti with meatballs and broccoli for dinner and you know that your child doesn’t like meatballs, he should still get served meatballs, but you should be considerate by serving them on the side of the spaghetti instead of on top.
The factor that we have the most control over are our own expectations. I strongly recommend that you go into each meal with very low expectations for how your child will eat. This way if she simply takes a bite of the meatball but then spits it right back out, you will hopefully be better able to respond in a calm and collected manner. The last thing we want to do is to show frustration and pressure her to eat it (which we know ultimately backfires). And who knows, maybe she will surprise you one day and even decide to mix her meatballs right into her spaghetti like she observes you doing on your plate! Sometimes, the best way to set up your child for success is to manage your own expectations.
Remember: Be considerate but don’t cater! And keep your expectations low!