Posts Tagged: Alyson Schafer

Panicked Over Picky Eaters

Is your child a picky eater? If you find yourself nodding yes to any of the following questions, this article is for you:

◾Will your child only eat one or two foods or food groups?

◾Is their idea of a wide range of food everything from french fries to tater tots?

◾Do they push away anything resembling a vegetable?

◾Do they love anything that comes individually wrapped?

◾Do you worry your child might suffer from lack of nutrition?

◾Do you serve different meals to different family members according to their eating preferences?

◾Do you eat your own dinner after your children have eaten because you want “adult” food?

If this sounds like you and your child, I have some thoughts for you.

Most parental concern is about the picky eater’s health since they appear to lack nutritional balance. I suggest that the primary concern should be the life lessons you might be inadvertently teaching by catering to your picky eater.

Parents take their job seriously when it comes to the basics of life and tend to get very busy when it comes to their child’s eating. This concern results in parents giving in to kids’ demands in the name of nutrition and avoiding starvation.

But consider for a moment how truly rare hunger and malnutrition are in North America. Malnutrition in the form of vitamin deficiencies is almost completely unheard of in affluent developed countries that have processed breads, cereals, and milk with essential vitamins and minerals added as a public health measure.

Humans can go seven days without food. And while extended time without food is not recommended, a few hours of waiting for a cracker is not going to be the end of anyone.

On the other hand, sharing food is an essential part of family living and a child must learn how to live as part of a whole. It’s important for them to understand that others have their own individual tastes and preferences too. Sharing and cooperating within the family builds the child’s understanding of how to cooperate in a world where not everyone can have their way at all times.

So look at picky eating as an opportunity to rid your child of the mistaken belief that the road of life bends to their path. Instead, work with your child to find cooperative solutions.

Dealing with Picky Eaters

Keep a Record

Parents think kids are not eating because they don’t eat at meal times. I suggest parents write down everything their children eat for a week before commencing this plan.

You will probably find that there is plenty going in outside of set meal times. It is all the form of juice bottles, raisin boxes, Dunkeroos, and gnawed on bagels eaten in a car seat. These “snack-meals” are displacing meals served at the table. Kids learn to not eat meals at the table and instead choose to wait to eat “snack meals” instead.

Create Routines

The first step in helping your child to be a co-operative eater is serving meals and snacks at predictable times. For young children, three meals a day plus a mid-morning and a mid-afternoon snack (and I mean just a nibble) should do it. If you offer some fruit before bedtime you can feel secure that your child is being offered an opportunity to fuel their bodies healthily every few hours.

Not Eating is a Choice

If you have made and served good food, your work is done. It is a child’s responsibility to eat from the choices served.

Some children will choose NO food from the table, as they may feel everything is yucky. That is okay. They can excuse themselves. You can wrap up their plate and pop it in the fridge.

Don’t concern yourself or make a fuss about what they eat at meal times. Let the natural consequence of hunger do the teaching. Hungry children will eat.

Picky eaters don’t usually get a chance to experience true hunger – their parents jump in too fast and save them through catering to their preferences or compensating with big yummy snacks. Avoid this by following the routine and order without exception.

If your picky eater complains of hunger after the meal you can offer them to eat from their wrapped up plate in the fridge at any time.

Offer Limited Choices

Parents can control the choices by only buying and offering good healthy food choices. Kids can’t sneak and demand food that is not there.

Offer More Choice Through Planning

If your child refuses to eat what is served and demands their own preferred food – they are giving you their input on meal choices, which is okay. But when the meal is put on the table, it’s not the appropriate time to influence the meal plan. Stick with the meal plan and do not make alterations or offer substitutions.

Instead, include your child in planning the family menu so they can pick days everyone eats their choices. You are showing them that you will be okay eating their grilled-cheese sandwich dinner and in return they will have to live through eating your meatloaf and mashed potatoes. Everyone has some give and take in the family.

 

About the Author:

Alyson Schafer

Alyson Schafer

Alyson Schafer is a psychotherapist and one of Canada’s most notable parenting experts. She is the resident expert on The Marilyn Denis Show, CTV News Channel and CBC’s The World This Weekend. Alyson is an “Ask an Expert” Columnist for Today’s Parent Magazine, and sits on the Health Advisory Board for Chatelaine Magazine.  Alyson is the best selling author of “Breaking The Good Mom Myth” and “Honey, I Wrecked The Kids” and her latest, “Ain’t MIsbehavin”.  She is an international speaker including the inaugural TEDxKids in Brussels and offers free parenting tips at www.alysonschafer.com.

Weaning Off the Bottle

If you think it’s time to wean your toddler off of the bottle, you may need a strategy to help you. Here are a few main points to keep in mind:

YOU Pick the Timing,

I can’t give you the magic or perfect age to stop with bottles.  Your paediatrician or dentist will suggest you stop if they see issues with the child’s soft palate. For the vast majority, we tackle this “project” when it makes sense in the context of the whole picture of our lives. It’s hard to implement someone else’s suggestion if you don’t really “buy in” anyways, so who cares what I think? What matters is what YOU think!

If you are ready, here is my strategy:

Limit Usage

You can begin by letting your toddler know: “As of today, bottles are only for bed.”

This is helpful because:

◾It eliminates one of the big things we hate: watching a kid walk around with an empty bottle hanging out of their mouth\ and preventing them from talking

◾It allows them to still have their bottle should they need it to calm themselves

◾It gives a clear indication of how much your child feels they need their bottle.  How? Well, children don’t like to step away from the action, so they have to decide if they want to stay and play or go and have a bottle in bed in their room – away from the action.  If they REALLY want a bottle, they will opt to give up their social life for it. If the bottle is really just a habit or added bonus, they will not be willing to lie down to have it.

Cold Turkey

After you have limited bottles to bedtime, think about the LAST day that you will be willing to offer a bottle.  Once you eliminate THAT last bedtime bottle, you need to be sure to be firm and friendly while enforcing this. NO more bottles. If you cave and give a bottle, you will be training them to cry and scream and demand one until you produce one for them. Don’t go down that road!

Good luck and remember – consistency is key!

 

About the Author:

Alyson Schafer

Alyson Schafer

Alyson Schafer is a psychotherapist and one of Canada’s most notable parenting experts. She is the resident expert on The Marilyn Denis Show, CTV News Channel and CBC’s The World This Weekend. Alyson is an “Ask an Expert” Columnist for Today’s Parent Magazine, and sits on the Health Advisory Board for Chatelaine Magazine.  Alyson is the best selling author of “Breaking The Good Mom Myth” and “Honey, I Wrecked The Kids” and her latest, “Ain’t MIsbehavin”.  She is an international speaker including the inaugural TEDxKids in Brussels and offers free parenting tips at www.alysonschafer.com.

Potty Training – When to Start and When to Stop

Parents want to know when to start potty training.  Here is my answer:

◾Begin “training” when your child is verbal.  Start by helping them learn the language they’ll need, like “pee,” “poo,” “bum,” “potty,” “toilet,” etc.

◾Somewhere in the middle of their second year, you can buy a potty and get some fun children’s books about potty training.

◾Let them see you using the toilet (if you are like me, you have never had a minute alone in the washroom anyway!) and let them “play”/”imitate” you by either sitting on their potty or the toilet (with their pants still on is typical), or putting their dolls on it. This is still about “play,” not “trying” to use the toilet.

◾Show them how to dress and undress so they can pull their pants down and up on their own.  Show them how to wash and dry their hands at the sink.  These areas should be kid-friendly, with step stools and easy-to-reach soap and towels.

◾Look for 2-3 hour periods of dryness and predictable bowel movements each day.

Body maturation and awareness comes in three stages: “I peed,” “I am peeing,” and “I have to pee.” When they share “I peed” and “I am peeing,” you can smile and say encouraging comments like, “Hey, you are really getting to know your body!”

Only when they get to the “I need to pee” stage, which means they now are able to hold their bladder and have a chance to actually plan to get to the potty, is it time to invite them to try to use the toilet or potty. This, in my opinion, is when active potty training takes place (somewhere around between 2 1/2 and 3 years of age) and it means having you child wear fast-to-pull-down track pants or leggings – no zippers, belts, buckles or overalls, please.

Now you can invite them to try to do that pee (which they now know they are holding) on a potty!  It’s an invitation to try – not a life sentence of sitting until something happens!  They can sit and try, and when they want to get up, so be it.  They can try anytime they like.  The next time they announce, “I have to pee,” ask, “Do you wanna try the potty?” If they say yes, say “Let’s go,” and then move quickly to the potty and get them on there quickly.  They can’t hold for long at this stage, so if they don’t make it to the toilet, say, “That’s okay, you’re learning!” and stay positive.

When to stop training – you are being too forceful or are taking over the lead:

◾If they say NO.  No means NO and you have to respect that.  If they don’t want to use a toilet, they may be ready physically, but not psychologically.

◾If they are holding or constipated, whatever you might be doing – back off!

◾If they have many accidents and never even make an attempt to hold or get to the toilet.

◾If they don’t go when they are on the potty, but then go immediately after being re-dressed.

◾If they hide to go.

Hope that gives you a good start!

 

About the Author:

Alyson Schafer

Alyson Schafer

Alyson Schafer is a psychotherapist and one of Canada’s most notable parenting experts. She is the resident expert on The Marilyn Denis Show, CTV News Channel and CBC’s The World This Weekend. Alyson is an “Ask an Expert” Columnist for Today’s Parent Magazine, and sits on the Health Advisory Board for Chatelaine Magazine.  Alyson is the best selling author of “Breaking The Good Mom Myth” and “Honey, I Wrecked The Kids” and her latest, “Ain’t MIsbehavin”.  She is an international speaker including the inaugural TEDxKids in Brussels and offers free parenting tips at www.alysonschafer.com.

Related Posts with Thumbnails