Parenting - - Hot Tips -

Fussy eat­ing of­ten cor­re­lates with a dis­tinct de­vel­op­men­tal pe­riod in a young child’s life – the age of in­de­pen­dence. The child wants con­trol over any­thing and ev­ery­thing, in­clud­ing their food. With a slow­down of growth around the age of 12 months, you will no­tice that your child may not ap­pear as hun­gry. The growth curve around this age flat­tens out. This is nor­mal, but can lead to parental anx­i­ety at meal­times. How­ever, there are ways to avoid the 'nugget and cheese sand­wich' curse of fussy eat­ing.

Be per­sis­tent

It can take 10 or more times of try­ing a food for a child to like it. Do not give up. Try it again, then again and again – though not on the same day. Give it a break for a few days and try it again.

Try dif­fer­ent tex­tures

Chil­dren are very sen­si­tive to tex­ture and may be re­ject­ing the food be­cause of its feel, rather than the taste. If you have no success with steamed zuc­chini, try it raw. Change the tex­ture and you change the ex­pe­ri­ence. The '10 times' rule also ap­plies with tex­ture.

Change the ex­pe­ri­ence

The thing about pro­cessed and pack­aged foods is they are mar­keted di­rectly to chil­dren, tap­ping into ex­actly how they like their food. Think like the com­pa­nies. Pack­age your food in colour­ful lit­tle con­tain­ers. Serve a meal in a cup or a take­away box. Use a straw to drink soup or tongs to eat spaghetti. Food should be fun for kids. If it isn’t, they will not em­brace it. Adults eat all kinds of foods for health rea­sons alone (wheat­germ, wheat­grass shots, LSA, spir­ulina) and it is only after­wards we learn to love them. The rea­son we first eat them is be­cause they are mar­keted to us as be­ing ‘good for you’ or ‘su­per­foods’, not be­cause they are nec­es­sar­ily de­li­cious or tempt­ing. Kids are mar­keted food as well. For ex­am­ple, a fun toy with a boxed-up lunch or a ce­real that crack­les and pops. How ex­cit­ing!

To inspire sim­i­lar lev­els of en­thu­si­asm, you need to try a few mar­ket­ing tools your­self. Try sell­ing car­rots as help­ing you see bet­ter and then chal­lenge your chil­dren to try and see in a dark­ened room. Broc­coli helps your hair grow long, and beans help you jump high. These are not sci­en­tif­i­cally-proven claims, but these foods are im­por­tant for a healthy body. Get­ting your kids to taste them, even once, will help the process.

To hear more from Shirley, visit re­newyour­mind.com or come along to one of her mind­ful par­ent­ing cour­ses at The Par­ent­ing Place cen­tre in Green­lane. Each course runs for six weeks, com­menc­ing on Wed­nes­day, 11 May, 7.30pm and Fri­day, 13 May, 10am. Go to theparentingplace.com for more de­tails.

“Re­mem­ber that mind­ful­ness can be some­thing you prac­tise through­out the day. It sim­ply means you are be­ing aware of what­ever you are do­ing or ex­pe­ri­enc­ing at that par­tic­u­lar mo­ment.”

A Year of Mind­ful Liv­ing

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