It is New Year’s Day, and what do people usually do today? Start on their resolutions.
- The key to effective weight loss? Small and concrete habit changes.
- The key to changing how your kids eat? Small and concrete habit changes.
Parents tell me all the time about how excited and upbeat they feel when they come across a new strategy, and how equally frustrated they feel when the new strategy fails.
Other people seem to have success, these parents say. Why can’t they?
- Switching strategies can’t work while tensions in the household remain high because your child is still primed to resist all of your efforts, no matter what they are.
- Many parents attempt to make changes that seem like small steps to them but which are too difficult for their children to achieve.
Resolution 1: Do whatever it takes to reduce the tension around eating in your household.
It might surprise you to hear that the easiest way for parents to reduce tension is to tap into their permissive parent. When used as a long-term strategy, permissive parenting exacerbates problem eating. Here, I’m proposing that you use permissive parenting as a temporary fix.
Scale back on your expectations and demands for a few days or a week. Let your child:
- Forgo vegetables
- Drink chocolate milk
- Eat on the go
Resolution 2: Break your feeding goals down into small, incremental steps, ones your children can achieve very easily.
The smaller the step, the easier to achieve, the more successful you’ll be.
For most children, the ideal outcome is simply too hard to attain in one giant step. By pressing for too big of a challenge, parents set their children up for failure (and, in doing so, they set themselves up for a great deal of frustration).
Instead, work towards smaller goals, one stage at a time. You may want your children to:
- Eat new food when what they have to do first is learn to taste new foods.
- Taste new foods when what they need to do first is learn to smell new foods.
- Smell new foods when what they need to do first is let new foods sit on their plates.
Reward your children for each small step. With praise. Or stars. Or with extra stories at bedtime. Reward with whatever your children find rewarding! The point is, when you present your kids with small, doable challenges, they succeed. Nothing encourages kids to move forward more than that.
~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~
Source: Kaipainen K, Payne CR, Wansink B. 2012. Mindless Eating challenge: Retention, Weight Outcomes, and Barriers for Changes in a Public Web-Based Healthy Eating and Weight Loss Program. J med Internet Res 14(6): e168 downloaded from http://www.jmir.org/2012/6/e168/ on 1/1/13.