Statistically speaking, we’ll all fall of the Wellness Wagon by February. Resolutions be damned.

Everyone knows that New Year’s Resolutions are hard to keep. It doesn’t matter whether those resolutions are for yourself, or for your kids. You know what I mean. Second to I’m going to eat better this year is I’m going to get my kids to eat better this year.  By February, though, our good intentions turn to ash. Why such a high failure rate? New is hard to do. Especially when it comes to our kids.

Last year, while listening to one of my favorite podcasts, The Sporkful, I heard:

  • “Fall off the Wagon” Day, the first Thursday in February, is the day when the downturn in visits to gyms intersects with the upswing in people going to fast food restaurants. This year that day is 2/1/18.
  • “The Fatty Solstice,” the second Friday in February, is the most popular day for fast food eating.  This year that day is 2/9/17.

Clearly, we need help doing New.

The Secret to Successful New

I’m sure you’ve heard about these 3 steps.

  • Be Specific – Know exactly what behavior your want to adopt
  • Create Doable Steps – Break the big goal down into chunks that are easier to achieve
  • Set a Date for Change – Prepare yourself for the new behavior

Now, think about one of your child’s eating habits that you’d like to change. Or that you’ve tried to change in the past. Did you take these steps? And if you did, did you share these steps with your child?

When kids aren’t prepared for change, they can’t go along with new. They stay in old defensive mode. They might not even really notice the change, if it’s subtle. They might not believe the change is real. They might not even understand the change. Or the need for change. So what do you get? Resistance.

Instead, prepare your child. Clearly delineate the old from the new with a conversation about the old and the new that recognizes your child’s feelings. Feelings about the old, the new, the struggle, the interactions with you. Even young children need to have their feelings recognized. This is the step that brings kids onboard. And until they’re onboard, changes are destined to fail.

Successful change requires an obvious break between old and new.

Here’s what happens. You think about the old behavior. Then you figure out a change you want to implement. Then you decide when you’ll start making the change. You’re prepared.

Your child isn’t. Instead, your child is blindsided.

Most of us forget to prepare our children for change. Instead, we spring it on them.

Maybe you’ve decided to start serving a fruit and/or a vegetable at every meal and snack. You’ve heard from a reputable source (me!) that this is a good way to increase fruit and vegetable consumption. Did you talk to your kids or just start doing it?

Maybe you’ve decided to implement the Rotation Rule or Eating Zones. (Other techniques you’ve heard are fabulous!) How’d you get started?

It really doesn’t matter what the behavior change. Maybe you want to work on teaching your child to stay in touch with internal signals of hunger and satiety. Most of us just get down to the job at hand.

You can improve how your child eats this year.

It just takes preparation.

  1. Figure out the what, when and why of change.
  2. Talk to your child about her feelings.
  3. Share your strategy for change.
  4. Ask for input.
  5. Get started.

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~