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Getting Your Kids to Eat

Posted by Kristen on July 19, 2010 at 6:50 AM in Eating
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IMG_7853.JPGYesterday, I got on a plane to Atlanta for work. As I got out of the car at the airport to leave, no one seemed even remotely interested that I was leaving. Part of me felt really bad that my children did not even remotely care that I was leaving and part of me thought, "Yay!!!! No one will be glaring at me on the plane!!"

I was leaving my children for three days. My husband is very competent. They are his children, too. I am always surprised when someone comments on how helpful he is, because I have just always assumed that his participation would be complete and engaged. I mean, no one ever compliments him on how helpful I am. I thought that since it was 2010, it was just assumed that he would actively participate in the rearing of his children. I wouldn't have had more than one, if things had been different. We have three children by choice. His choice.

To be honest, I told him that I thought he would be perfectly fine if I were to die in a fiery airplane crash. As is always the case, my husband asked me not to say such things since it is bad luck. As is always the case with me, who does not believe in bad luck, I continued to speak.

I told him that my only concern was the feeding of my children. You see, my husband will answer seven thousand questions about how grass grows or why there are rings around Saturn or how many layers of skin there are. But when it comes to food, he has a short attention span. He tries for about 10 minutes, and then he gives up. You eat, yay for you. You don't, too bad. So sad.

I would typically land my helicopter there, but my children are a little feisty when they don't eat. We all know this. They come by it honestly from their father. I can get to 7 p.m. before I think, something is wrong here. Oh, I haven't eaten since yesterday. My husband? Eats on a clock. There is that moment of the evening when dinner is behind schedule, and the whole family melts down. Despite being married to my husband for nearly seven years, it took me having children to realize that blood sugars and happy days are synonymous.

So, to be honest, it sometimes surprises me that my husband does not see the correlation between his children's grumpy faces and their need for food. He gives up too quickly, and then everyone is angry and upset. He gets upset, everyone gets upset and no one understands that this is all about food.

I called today and there was screaming in the background. Apparently the boys decided that they wanted to go to the store to get hoola hoops (???). Then everyone cried on the way, while they were there and on the way home. It only took a few minutes in a conversation after they got home for me to determine that lunch had been sketchy and breakfast was even sketchier. I suggested a snack. No one cared.

They will be perfectly fine until I get home. I should probably plan a big dinner though, since it looks like dinner might not be happening any time soon. Is that bad?


Karen writes...

I don't think it's bad! Children definitely melt down if they don't eat properly, and I think it's possible to teach them at quite a young age that their grumpy feeling is due to hunger, and that they have the power to fix it. When my oldest was less than 2.5 she was saying "I gwumpy cuz I hungwy. Wanna snack." Of course you polish that diamond with some "please"s later on ;) but to me a child taking ownership of her needs and her life like that is the sweetest music there is.

Karen writes...

I want to add that being a blood-sugar Jeckyll/Hyde myself, I know how crucial a good diet is to my equilibrium and how easily a bad mood due to hunger can be fixed. So I don't actually give my kids that much choice about taking ownership of this issue. I give consequences when negative or out of control behavior is clearly due to hunger and the child still refuses to eat.... do you want a banana, string cheese, PBJ, yogurt? No? Do you want something else healthy, or do you want me to choose something for you to eat? No? OK, then you need a time out until you're ready to help yourself feel better by choosing something to eat, because your whining/hitting/refusing to walk isn't good for you and isn't fair to the rest of us. I feel like hunger is the most basic and understandable place to start to teach kids to check in with themselves and then be proactive about getting their needs met, and they feel so much better for it that it quickly becomes self-reinforcing.

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