"Your Sister is Eating it - Why don't you?"
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
"Your Sister/Brother/Friend is eating it - Why Don't You?"
Such a common and natural thing for a parent to say to a little one who yet again isn't eating their meal. This small sentence that trips off your tongue could be fuelling your fussy eating issues. It could also create self-esteem issues for your child and could associate food with negative emotions.
"So-and-so is eating it - why don't you?"
Your child may well hear (well, the adult equivalent of this follows, because they aren't aware of the meaning they're attaching to your words but the message gets through)":
"I love so-and-so more than you",
"So-and-so is better than you",
"So-and-so is a good child and you are a bad child"
These kinds of comments are unhelpful on three levels:
1. You're setting up your child to become insecure and jealous (you happen to be talking about food, but the food becomes irrelevant in terms of the message your child may hear).
2. Eating may now well become associated with a horrible feeling for your child, evoked by the above message. The more your child hears these comments, the more you may unwittingly be creating a cognitive pathway in your child's brain between food and negative emotions.
3. You are putting pressure on your child to eat, which is likely to give them an opportunity to resist you, as they will quickly understand that you really want them to do just that.
Instead of using this line, take the attention and focus away from your child eating and place it on something else. Ask the sibling/friend who is eating the food questions about it, such as "can you tell me what it tastes like?". With the attention on the other child you may find the resistant eater wanting to join in too.
Asking funny questions such as "do your peas taste like ice cream?" can create a light-hearted, fun eating experience with you all sat around not focusing on what one child can't do but what all the children can do.