Part of parenting is to provide healthy food for our children. A bag of pretzels and a can of Mountain Dew is not what pediatricians or nutritionists have in mind when they talk about a ‘healthy meal’ for children — or for adults, for that matter!
But with picky and fussy eaters, it can be a real hassle to see that the kids get the nutrition they need.
One method, called DOR (Division of Responsibility) is being recommended by more and more doctors, when confronted with this problem.
At the Santa Clara Childhood Feeding Collaborative they’ve detailed the basics.
First. Parents buy, prepare, and serve the food. Children should not be expected to help out unless it’s a special occassion or it’s a clearly defined teaching time. Parents also pick the where and the when. Not in the car and not in front of a screen, but in the kitchen or dining room, might be a good start.
Now the children play their part. It’s their responsibility (and parents must be patient but firm in getting them to own this) to eat the food that is offered them. When there’s a problem, it’s always okay to discuss this with parents in a calm and reasonable way. But again, it’s the child’s responsibility to eat the food and not the parent’s to force them/bribe them into doing it. If no agreement can be reached, then the meal is over for that particular child. Cruel? Not really — it builds recognition of the consequences of decisions in them which will help them with other decisions once they get past ‘no peas!’