It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Harrumph

1208847_girl_with_a_sour_face“Are you working on Remembrance Day?”
“Yes, I am.”

If you have the day off, but opt to send your child to childcare, your caregiver will not resent that. Every parent deserves the luxury of the odd kid-free day.

“Oh, that’s great! My wife was hoping for a day off.”

But you know, it would be sensitive and, you know, tactful not to go on and on and ON about it.

“I’m just so happy about tomorrow! I have so many things planned! So much I’m going to get done! It’s so great to have hours of peace and quiet!”

Because, though she understands your excitement, the fact that you have the day off means that your caregiver (ahem) doesn’t, and it would be a kindness not to gloat too openly.

“Hello, sweetie! Mummy’s here! …Oh, am I the last parent?”
“Yes. Actually, you’re ten minutes late.”

And, when you take that glorious day off? The one that your caregiver, through her dedication and professionalism, is enabling you to enjoy?

Show up on time.

November 12, 2009 Posted by | daycare, parents, Peeve me, the dark side | 5 Comments

A B C D oops, no, wait…

firstcdnabcDid you know…

A is for truck,
B is for shoes,
C is for moo-cow
D is for puppy
E is for elephant. (Once in a while, they have to hit one, no?)
F is for doggy,
G is for duck — and strawberries
H is for horsie!
I is for ice cream!
J is for dolly,
K is for boy,
L is for yellow,
M is for momocyle!
N is for eggs,
O is for birdies,
P is for rocks,
Q is for bankie,
R is for bunny,
S is for teddy (thing is, they were right! Surely, if you’re going to put a toy on the slide on the s-page, you’d make sure it started with s?),
T is for choo-choo,
U is for horsie,
V is for fruit,
W is for waffles!!
X is for piano,
Y is for yogurt (probably because they’d just seen me eat some for breakfast),
and
Z is for zebra!!!

Alphabet books are lost on toddlers…

November 11, 2009 Posted by | books | , , , | 4 Comments

Picky eaters

743955_a_tad_angry_Today’s post is inspired by a commenter, who asked, “Do you ever get kids in who are such picky eaters that they won’t eat a lot of your cooking?” My answer to that is, “Yes, at first.”

Generally, the younger children will eat pretty near anything you plonk on that high chair tray, or poke into their mouths with a spoon. (Occasionally, yes, something comes blasting back out of that 7-month-old mouth, but not nearly as often/commonly as with older children.) Just let them get a little older, let them start feeling their “I’m autonomous!” two-year-old oats, and suddenly you have someone refusing this, refusing that, refusing anything that isn’t white, that isn’t sweet, that isn’t macaroni…

Sigh.

So yes, I see my fair share of tots who turn their sweet little button noses up at my delectable offerings. I work with toddlers, of course I see that!

But as I say, it doesn’t last. Why?

The key is knowing who controls what. Who’s in charge of your child’s intake?

Hint: not you.

YOU control what is served, when it’s served, and where. Your child chooses whether to eat, and how much they’ll eat (though you can certainly put a cap on it, you can’t really enforce a minimum).

YOU provide a range of healthy foods at set intervals.
YOUR CHILD decides whether to eat it.

So far, any of you with picky eaters are shouting at me. “I KNOW that! That’s exactly the problem, isn’t it??”

Sort of. But not really.

It’s only a problem if you try to take on the child’s role of intake, and let the child take on your role of “what”.

Are you following me?

You provide a healthy meal. Your little darling says, “No broccoli. I want macaroni.”

Well, no. YOU decide what is served, not them. And THEY decide whether they’ll ingest it.

“I know you like macaroni, but tonight we’re having broccoli.” YOU decide what. Your child decides whether. It may well be that they will decide not to eat the broccoli. That is their right.

Of course, that’s not how the child sees it. They don’t want to be hungry. They want what they want. And you’re saying “No macaroni, but you can eat BROCCOLI”????

So of course they throw a fit.

I know. It’s awful. And don’t you just want peaceful mealtimes? Don’t worry. You’ll get them… only not just yet. Fits are almost inevitable when you’re teaching new patterns, so let’s take a look at your reacton to a fit. If you change his meal because he’s throwing a fit, you are being bullied. You are being bullied into doing something less-than-healthy for your child. Your child may not intend to bully you — they just know they don’t want that damned broccoli — but in the end, you are teaching your child you can be bullied.

And once you start that, it never ends. So, if you cave in to a fit, are you buying peace, or guaranteeing ongoing strife?

“I know you prefer macaroni. But tonight we’re having broccoli.”

[The fit commences.]

“Oh, dear. I guess you’re not hungry. Away you go and play, then.” (Or, if the fit is too loud and ugly to ignore, you calmly — think robot — take them and deposit them in their room.) “When you’re ready to be calm and quiet, you can come back.”

But why would I go through that, you ask? So what if she wants nothing but macaroni and bananas? It’s better than nothing, right?

Wrong.

You have ONE thing going for you — in a big way — in this food struggle. (You have more than one, really: you have the fact that you are the parent, you are the chef, you buy the food. But for many parents, that isn’t enough.)

The ONE thing you have that’s really, REALLY on your side and will inevitably tip the scales in the favour of healthy eating?

Your child’s hunger.

“AHHH! She’s telling me to starve my child!!!” There you go again, taking on your child’s role in the feeding dynamic. YOU are not “starving” your child; YOUR CHILD is refusing perfectly good food. There is a world of difference here.

I find myself hauling out the same things that were said to me, many years ago… because certain parenting techniques just never, ever wear out.

“But mummy, I’m HUNGRY!”
“No, you’re not. If you were hungry enough, you’d eat your sausage.”

And of course, she was right. And when I GOT hungry enough, I did eat that sausage… because I knew there was nothing else forthcoming. It’s entirely possible (because I was a stubborn little thing) that there were some nights I went to bed without supper.

My mother knew that choice was my right and was willing to let me make it. I’m better for it, because now I enjoy a wide range of foods. There are fewer than half-a-dozen things I truly don’t like. (Liver and lima beans top that list.)

“Starving”? North American children have no idea, none at all, what it’s like to “starve”. This is a good thing! But let us be clear here: Starving children will eat dirt to ward off the hunger pangs. They would never in a million years turn their noses up at broccoli.

So no, you’re not starving your child. And be assured that your child won’t “starve” themselves, either. (Yes, there is a rare medical condition whereby a child actually will do that… but it’s rare.)

If you’re hungry, it’s the most natural thing in the world to expect you to eat. (And it IS!)

This is a process. It may take a few days (for stubborn children, even a couple of weeks) before they realize you are dead serious. What they see is what they get. No options. And you can’t waffle on this, not even once. As soon as you do, all that suffering has been in vain.

Don’t cave!

For particularly recalcitrant kids (I recall doing this with one of my own, I forget which one), I’ve been known to pull out the rejected lunch at snack time. And then again at dinner. (Told you I was stubborn. Push me too hard and I get downright ornery.)

But stubborn (and maybe even a bit of ornery) is necessary when we’re talking creating healthy habits for a lifetime.

Really what it is, is consistent. Stick to your guns, and your child will eventually learn to eat. You don’t coax, you don’t argue, you don’t indulge in long drawn-out negotiations at the table. You can go easy, and only put one or two bites of a new/problematic food on their plates. And then they can eat it.

Or not.

If you can face the “or not”, you will produce healthy, varied eaters.

November 10, 2009 Posted by | food, power struggle | , , , | 30 Comments

This week’s menu

Why am I sharing this week’s menu with you? I dunno. Because today cooking interests me more than toddlers, I think. Some days are like that — but it’s all good, because just LOOK at what those lucky little so-and-so’s get to eat:

Monday:
Black bean felafels in whole-wheat pita halves with beet-green salad.

Tuesday:
Home-made bruschetta on Italian bread and cubes of cheddar cheese.

Wednesday:
Tofu on rice. I cut the tofu into sticks and fry till crispy on the outside. They dip it in veggie dip, along with cooked carrot sticks. Kids will eat ANYTHING if they can dip it.

Thursday:
Spinach-sunflower seed pilaf with chicken. (Real chicken. We do not do pre-made, ultra high-fat and -sodium chicken fingers in this house.)

Friday:
Winter vegetable soup and home-made cheese biscuits.

There is a possibility that they might also get to taste some roasted garlic soup on Wednesday, if there are leftovers from Tuesday night’s dinner (which I doubt). Similarly the lentil-beet salad.

Nom.

November 9, 2009 Posted by | food, health and safety | , , , | 4 Comments

Why?

Friday, Noah was a normal two-year-old.

Today…

“I hear a airplane. Where is it going?”
“I don’t know, sweetie.”
“Why?”

“Nissa has a poo?”
“Yes, she does.”
“Why?”

“Lunchtime!”
“Why?”

“We’re going to go to the 7-Eleven for Smarties for you, hon.”
“Why?”
“For when you do a poo. You know that.”
Why?

“Naptime!”
“Why?”

“Give me that, my dear. It’s too small for the baby.”
Why?
“She will put it in her mouth.”
“Why?”
“That’s just what babies do.”
“Why?”
“I don’t know. You used to put everthing in your mouth, too.”
“Why?”
“Beats me. Why did you do that?”

Blink.
Blink.
Blink.

I think the phrase he’s searching for is “damned if I know”. Lacking that, he’s struck dumb. For the moment. But only for the moment, for it is clear that Noah has entered the Why Stage.

It’s not so bad: At least he listens to the answers.

November 2, 2009 Posted by | Developmental stuff, Noah, the things they say! | , | 6 Comments