Wheaton Montessori News
Children, especially young children, can control three things: sleeping, eating, and going to the restroom.
Parents worry about an infinite amount of things, but we tend to focus on three things when it comes to our children: sleeping, eating, and going to the restroom. In a previous post, Rebecca Lingo discussed why she doesn’t worry about your child and potty-training. In this post, we hope to give you some reassurances when it comes to your child and eating.
Are you worried your child doesn’t eat anything green? Has a piece of fruit never touched your child’s lips? It’s so frustrating from the parent’s view point: We KNOW what nutrition our children need to be healthy. Our children, who haven’t read the pediatrician’s recommendations, haven’t spent years reading about health and nutrition, and don’t know about vitamin and nutrients, however, need our guidance. And they refuse to even touch the green bean, carrot, or leafy green on their plates.
Short of force-feeding out children (don’t do it!), what can we do to help our children try more foods? Pediatricians and advice books all recommend letting the child be a part of the food preparation.
In our classrooms, children have the opportunity at any time to prepare a snack. They have carrots, hard-boiled eggs, apples, bananas, and cream cheese-and-crackers to choose from. When hungry, the child selects a food item, carefully prepares a plate for herself, and (nearly always) consumes it.
The same carrot that is ignored at home. The same hard-boiled egg that might cause a tantrum of epic proportions.
Keep in mind, the deck is stacked in our favor in our classrooms. The only choices offered are the choices we think will fuel your child’s school day in a healthy way. Additionally, the students in the classroom repeatedly see their friends and classmates preparing and enjoying these healthy choices. Younger students model the behavior of the older role models in the classroom. The satisfaction of selecting, preparing, consuming, and cleaning up completely independently is a very strong motivator for the children. Even if they aren’t all that crazy about a hard-boiled egg.
How can you bring this HOME? By providing choices on a consistent basis and modeling the eating behaviors you’d like to seen in your child.
Provide a variety of choices for your child at neutral times (not when they’re starving or already digging in their heels). It should be a variety of choices acceptable to you. After all, it’s about helping your child make better choices. Celebrate small gains and victories. A few bites of a healthy snack is a huge victory!
When she gets to prepare the snack herself, she learns independence and pride. Over time and through repetition, trying new foods is less about the power struggle and more about empowerment.