Yesterday I hit my dog.

I’m mortified. I’m not a hitter. But yesterday? My dog, who is a big jumper—I’m not exaggerating, this little guy can springboard to hip-height without a running start—was , shall we say, enthusiastically greeting everyone who came to the door. And a lot of people stopped by yesterday.

Don’t worry. This is NOT a post about hitting kids. But it is a post about feeding them. Stay with me.

My dog is pretty well trained, except in the jumping-department.

Yesterday that meant I spent a lot of time using my best “alpha” voice, and when that didn’t work, using my best yelling voice. “Down!” “No jumping!” “Off!”

Nothing worked. The dog kept jumping.

And so, in a final fit of desperation, I struck out.

In my defense, my hit wasn’t really a hit.

Rather, it was a loud snap of the single, piece of paper I was holding in my hand. But it was a snap that connected with my dog’s small snout. (Yes, I know that makes it a hit, but I’m trying to feel better about myself!)

  • The dog flinched. My friend looked a little shocked.
  • And then the dog resumed jumping all over my friend.

So why am I telling you about this? Aside from the fact that confession is good for the soul?

As parents, we often try to teach the right lesson using the wrong technique.

The only change that occured in my dog’s behavior is that he kept a better eye on me. When he saw me coming he flinched. When he thought I wasn’t watching, he jumped.

If you’ve been trying—unsuccesfully—to change how your children eat, you need to change your strategy.

For instance, many parents want their children to learn that it’s important to eat fruits and vegetables. And so we bribe, beg, cajole and then, finally barter. “Ok, just take two more bites.”

Or, we want our children to try new foods so we pressure them to, “just take a taste.”

These techniques teach the wrong lessons.

The gap between what you think you’re teaching and what your kids are actually learning is where food problems thrive.

Read Conscious Parenting.

When techniques work, you can stop using them.

If you have to “remind” your kids every single night to eat their veggies, then they have learned some (or all) of the following (wrong) lessons:

  • I don’t have to eat vegetables until Mom asks me.
  • If I wait until Mom asks me then I won’t have to eat that huge pile of peas. Just a few bites.
  • No matter how many peas I eat, Mom will ask me to eat more. So waiting until Mom asks is the best way to minimize the number of peas I have to eat.
  • If I don’t eat my peas now then I’m sure to get dessert because that will be my “price.”
  • Dinner is a time for fighting.

The list goes on…

What your kids haven’t learned is to eat their veggies.

For a different solution read:

As for my dog?

Yelling was teaching him to ignore me. Hitting him was teaching him to avoid me.

Yesterday I worked hard to get him to stop flinching. Read: lots of petting and playing.

And now I’m searching for an anti-jumping technique that might actually work.

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~