Many of you know I’m in the process of writing a book, tentatively titled Escape the Nutrition Trap.  I’ve decided to start posting partial pieces and thoughts from what I’m working on. I invite your thoughts and comments.

Recently I’ve begun to think about the constant stream of negativity that parents unintentionally send out to their kids in regard to eating.

A long time ago I wrote Nix the Negativity, a post on how to encourage kids to be less negative about eating. But parents, I’ve come to realize, need a little nudge too.

  • You only ate 1/2 your peas? Not good enough. Eat some more.
  • You tasted this food? I wanted you to eat it.
  • You have an unusual (or unconventional) idea for breakfast? Forget about it.

No one means to be negative.  We mean to teach kids the right eating lessons.

The intended lessons?

  • Vegetables are important.
  • I want you to eat enough dinner so you’re not hungry later.
  • People don’t eat burritos for breakfast.

Imagine the world from your kids’ perspective though.

“Nothing I do is ever good enough.  Why do anything at all.”

Ironically, your kids will be more likely to eat the way you want them to when you expect less of them.

Not less in the “eat anything you want” way.  Less in terms of celebrating small steps.

  1. Make small, doable demands.  Read When Less is More and Unleash Your Toddler’s Inner Food Critic.
  2. Applaud each success like it’s the real deal, even if it’s less than you hoped for. Read The Happy Bite.
  3. Incrementally increase the challenge.

Remember when your toddler was learning to walk?

You congratulated him for “walking” even when he was teetering, tottering, holding on, and falling down. “Look, you’re walking!!!”

Kids need the same kind of encouragement when it comes to eating.

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~