I was planning a dinner date with a girlfriend of mine the other week. When trying to choose a restaurant we both agreed to discuss it on the day and choose then. My reasoning behind that was that I wasn’t sure what style of food I would be ‘in the mood for’ when it came to eating that evening. I might feel like Italian, Vietnamese, Thai or Modern Australian but I really would not know until that day.
Many people I know are like that too, so why are we so surprised when we set down dinner in front of our children, without any prior consultation and they say ‘I don’t feel like it’ ? It seems it’s acceptable for adults to say they are not in the mood for a style of food, but not for children.
I’ve discussed this issue with many parents and the overwhelming majority say “Children should eat what you put down in front of them,” Perhaps they should, but they don’t.
I agree that giving your young children too many choices, in any scenario can confuse them and turn them into little princes and princesses, but when it comes to what they eat, does it really have to be so difficult? Surely, we can make it easier on ourselves; I mean, we can send a man to the moon….
Lately, on the way home from day care, in the car, I’ve been giving my daughter two options – one might be noodles with carrot, peas and corn, ham and cheese and the other rice with bolognaise and cheese. I then let her choose and let her know that her choice is the only thing that’s on offer tonight. I then explain to her that she is getting what she wants. I let her celebrate it; isn’t she lucky! There’s no whinging allowed… In the evening when dinner is ready, she eats it. She eats it because she chose it. This method actually has been working…
Children want some control over what happens in their life. I know I do. So often I hear myself constantly telling Siena what to do, how to do it, what to drink, when to drink it, what she can’t have and why… it goes on and on. I mean if you lived with someone who constantly ordered you around, you would rebel too! Approaching her diet by giving her choices has worked so far. Fingers crossed.
How do you offer two options without running yourself ragged? The easy way of offering two options is to have a quick, easy meal that you are familiar with and can just whip up without thinking, with ingredients on hand. The second option could be left overs or if you think ahead, when you make soup or lasagne, make a bit extra and freeze it. Doubt it will work? Give it a go and let me know how it pans out for you.
Until next month, Cath