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Feeding With Love & Respect - Older Children

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  • Feeding With Love & Respect - Older Children

    I have some questions that have come up and it pertains to older children. I would love some input about what mothers of older children feel this means once your child is past breastfeeding, bottle feeding?

    What are your views on making a child finish all of their dinner?
    Bribing to finish dinner or no dessert?
    Telling children, I see this more with little girls, that they shouldn't eat something, it will make them fat.

    I am working on a section for some of our mums with older kids and they are trying to break out of the patterns that their parents had with them and these were some of the comments that came to mind for them.

    I have stated, we shop together as a family and make choices together. We don't say anything is necessarily fatty, but we do say some foods are unhealthy.
    I don't make Ronnie finish anything. We let him eat what he needs when he needs it. We don't have dessert... (I think I am the only one I know that doesn't...feeling like depriving mama now)
    I never said anything about weight to my girls. I had that a lot myself growing up and I was always tiny up until now.

    I look forward to your answers!

  • #2
    I think it depends on why your child isn't eating and how you bribe. We use to have a toddler who ate dinner and was no trouble at all, lately he doesn't want to eat, he's going through a phase and we have been bending backwards to get him to eat, but then it's cause we also know in 10 mins he'll say he's hungry and it's food we're sure he likes.

    I don't see saying a food will make a child "fat". As a family you choose to either buy that stuff or you don't, KWIM?

    We don't have dessert either, but DS does have fruit after dinner at bathtime.

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    • #3
      My kids are 6 and 3. I don't know if that qualifies as "older" in terms of your questions.

      1.) My children are never made to finish all their dinner. If they say they're full, I believe them. I'd rather they learn to listen to their own internal cues about hunger rather than be encouraged to ignore them.

      2.) I don't serve dessert, so that's a moot point. This was the practice when I was growing up, however. I don't remember it ever encouraging me to finish my dinner, but rather led to my becoming resentful of the practice.

      3.) I've never told my kids (older one a boy, younger one a girl) that food will make them fat. They both know that certain foods aren't healthy for them and won't make them grow, but they've never ever been told that something will make them fat. An important sidebar to this is that I have never once myself said, "Oh, I can't eat that cake - I'll gain 50 lbs and be fat!" It's just not an attitude I carry. As important as the direct message to the kids is the attitude that the parents have toward their own eating habits.

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      • #4
        we run a 24/7 kitchen. the kids eat whenever they want. i do impose some quantity limits, though. i don't believe in the "let kids eat whatever they want and they'll naturally balance themselves out" philosophy. my 2 yr. old would eat fruit all day if i'd let him. he can easily pack away an entire quart of strawberries and pint of blueberries at one sitting!! then he gets HORRIBLE diaper rash. he can also eat an entire half-pound of turkey and cries from a stomachache the rest of the nite. so, i offer healthy choices, but limit portion sizes. they quit eating when they're full.

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        • #5
          I found Dr. Sears's "Healthiest Kid in the Neighborhood" to be helpful. He's very explicit with language to use with your children around food. He puts the emphasis on health and feeling good not one fatness/thiness eg. he talks about how healthy food helps you grow, feel good, run fast, jump high. He classifys food into green, yellow and red light foods.

          Our general family approach to food is to let DS eat (within reason) what ,when and how much he wants. ie. we have lots of snacks and don't feel confined to three meals a day. He's generally pretty good at balancing out his own food over several days. For instance he'll eat a lot of veggies for several days and then have a few meat heavy days.
          If we happen to be having dessert one day DS will eat less dinner in anticipation. I actually consider this a good thing because it serves to limit the total calories he eats. (Not that I'm counting calories)ie. his body is regulated enough to say I don't want to get overfull so I will adjust my eating to compensate for dessert. DH and I are aware that we may be the only two parents in the world that think this.

          The main problem I find with this approach is that it relies on not having too much unhealthy food in the house. (Something this sweet-toothed mama is always fighting). If there is lots of junk in the house DS will eat lots of junk.

          "My Child Won't Eat" has also influenced our family food approach. It's a La Leche League published book and is written by Carlos Gonzalez. Though it is aimed at infants and toddler not older kids.

          I'm also influenced by my childhood. I was considered a very picky eater as a child and I was never able to eat in a way that other people thought was appropriate. I remember summer camp as torture because they only fed you three times a day and I couldn't get enough food at each meal to sustain me until the next. (Because I couldn't eat very much at one sitting) I was very skinny and got a lot of negative comments about my size. I'm trying to let me kids listen to their own body.

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          • #6
            This book is for specail neds children but it has a lot of GREAT thoughts on the whole dessert issue, using utensils, and more about how our culture has warped our views of eating habits and about food.

            I highly recommend it

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            • #7
              I have a poor relationship with food. I come from a long line of women who fight with their weight. I had a father who started telling me at the age of 7 that if I wasnt careful Id end up fat, unattractive, and alone (just like my mom-bitter divorce!). There were NO sweets in my home and they were denied to the point that when they became available I couldnt moderate. I am determined to break this cycle for my daughter who is 4. She eats as much as she wants, when she wants, etc. I find that over a period of days she does balance herself out. Because of some food sensitivities she is restricted from many/most processed foods and candy. We do keep "safe" sweets in the home for her and we do eat dessert in our house. However we have instituted a "1 sweet thing a day" rule in our house. DD is allowed to pick the what and when (I pre-set the portion depending on the what) as long as she has eaten something healthy already (no lollipops for breakfast). If she picks her sweet thing after breakfast I remind her that if she has a dessert that night it will have to be a "healthy" dessert (yogurt, fruit, she often chooses cheese!) and this is working well for us. DH and I can eat ice cream in the evening(our 1 sweet thing) and if she has already had her sweet thing, she really seems okay with it. I really like this system as it goes back into her self-balancing and if she does eat her sweet thing in the am, any sugar rush is worn off by bedtime.
              Carrie - Annas mommy

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              • #8
                Originally posted by harmonicker View Post
                This book is for specail neds children but it has a lot of GREAT thoughts on the whole dessert issue, using utensils, and more about how our culture has warped our views of eating habits and about food.

                I highly recommend it
                This book is my go-to guide for feeding issues in my children.

                Lots of good ideas here but I also wanted to point you towards a few posts in the API blog on the topic (including one I wrote hehe).

                Feeding an Orally Defensive Child with Love and Respect
                Respectful Feeding for a Lifetime

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                • #9
                  I never wanted to bribe my kids or make them eat anything, but...my oldest never wants to eat. She is so skinny that our Naturopath has suggested I do bribe her with dessert. We have started naming foods anytime foods, or some times foods. To get a some times food she must eat her any time food. I hate that we have to do this and would love to just let her choose when to eat and what, but she really doesn't enjoy eating.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Hip Mountain Mama View Post
                    I never wanted to bribe my kids or make them eat anything, but...my oldest never wants to eat. She is so skinny that our Naturopath has suggested I do bribe her with dessert. We have started naming foods anytime foods, or some times foods. To get a some times food she must eat her any time food. I hate that we have to do this and would love to just let her choose when to eat and what, but she really doesn't enjoy eating.
                    can you identify what it is that she does not enjoy? tastes? textures? related to time of day/activity? if you're using desserts to bribe, she must like sweets and is attracted to that type. any other clues?

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                    • #11
                      My table-food kids are 4 and almost 3. They, too, would eat fruit all the time, if they could. My daughter would eat nothing but meat, if allowed.

                      At dinner, I offer them veggies first, and encourage them to eat those first, but I do not make the rest of the meal contingent upon that. I try to make it seem like the rest of dinner isn't ready yet, so they can eat the veggies now or wait. I don't want my oldest to pout and refuse to eat, which he will do if he thinks it's a power situation.

                      I always promote food - this will make you big and strong, grow muscles - that kind of thing. I am not opposed to saying too much of something will make a person sick. The only time I mentioned diet was when I had gestational diabetes and the kids couldn't eat from my pre-measured plate of food, but then I said I had to eat certain things for the baby. I don't like to use the word "fat," because my dad is severely overweight and I don't want them to think less of him - or anyone, for that matter.

                      Sometimes we bribe with dessert, but dessert is not a regular thing in our house. Sometimes it is a special fruit, sometimes ice cream. We aren't very strict on their diet at parties, since those aren't very often.

                      It isn't any trouble getting them to eat veggies straight from the garden. They pick green beans and tomatoes straight from the vine, or freshly dug carrots, but I don't have the room to grow enough food for everyday consumption.

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