Ever feel like it’d be a cinch to teach your kids healthy eating habits if it weren’t for other parents?

You feed your kids lots of fruits and vegetables.

And these other parents? Well…they don’t.

The problem occurs when your kids see their kids. (I’m sure you know what I mean.)

Ali writes that at home she feeds her 18 month-old daughter a small mid-morning snack. And it works great.

Her daughter eagerly eats whatever she serves up at lunch time.

However, Ali also writes, that her friends let their kids graze from a snack buffet all day long.

And her daughter is happy to eat from their buffets of, as Ali says, “sugar-sweetened and salt/MSG-laden junk” whenever they have playdates.”

Ali feels caught in a bind. She doesn’t want her daughter to eat this food, but…

“My daughter is only 1 1/2 so I feel I can’t just tell her ‘no’ and not allow her to eat when all the other kids are eating. She has had meltdowns over being denied Goldfish crackers. In fact, if we are out playing somewhere and she sees food, she becomes obsessed by it, which I think is due to the fact that other kids always have hyper-palatable processed garbage that we do not eat at home.”

The good news is that other parents can’t ruin your kids’ eating habits (unless you let them).

You just have to teach your way out of the problem.

So what do I suggest in this situation (other than Ali’s idea of making new friends)?

Here’s a radical idea: stop thinking about the food and starting thinking about habits, skills and life lessons.

You probably think I’m crazy. This kid is 1 1/2. But consider this: Every time you interact with your children—no matter their age— you’re teaching them something. The only question that remains is, what are you going to teach them?

I say, why not make those interactions work in your favor?

Ask yourself, “What lessons or skills does my daughter need to learn?”

To figure that out, look at the problem closely to see all the different issues that need to be addressed. (There’s almost always more than one.)

In this case I see four different problems:

  1. Food quality
  2. Grazing
  3. Food obsessions
  4. Meltdowns

And three different lessons that need to be learned:

  1. The concept of proportion.
  2. How to use Eating Zones properly.
  3. To cope with disappointment.

How will teaching her young daughter these lessons solve Ali’s problems?

Check out my next few posts. I’ll describe in detail what I suggest she does. In the meantime, read: My 3 Year old scores junky snacks from other parents and kids. What can I do?

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~