Saturday, January 28, 2012

Shaping Your Child's Personality & Eating Habits

"My child does not like vegetables. She just does not like them."
"My child has a short attention span. He will not sit still."
"My son only eats green foods."
"My older one is more cautious than my younger one."
"Why can't you be more like you sister?"

As parents, we observe behaviours, make generalizations, and comparisons all the time. To maintain these observations in our minds and discuss with our spouse is one thing. However, please refrain from speaking like this in front of your child. However independent or rebellious your child is, he or she still listens to you speak about them, particularly if you are speaking about them to other adults. They hear these generalizations and categorize themselves as "I am the kid that doesn't eat broccoli."

Kids love to be in a category. I am in JK. I am seven. I am a girl. I like princesses. Given any other categories, they will take it the way the parents label them. I agree, some kids probably do not like vegetables as much as cupcakes. However, research has shown that it might take up to 20 presentations of the same food for the child to try it. I think it took that many times for one of my daughters to try cucumber. I just presented it with the rest of the foods, did not push as mealtimes should not be stressful, did not say "she does not eat cucumber" to anyone. One day, she picked it up and ate it. Nobody watched. Nobody stared at her. We just ate dinner and asked "How did you like it?" "Yummy," she said.

We have had many children over to our home and I have heard "Oh, don't bother giving her turkey, she won't eat it." "Let her make the decision." I said in the kitchen and offered some to her at the table. She agrees to try some and eats a bunch. Dad says "Why did you not eat it the other day at home?" She replies, "I didn't feel like it that day."

Give the kids a chance to explore on their own and take different foods on their own. I tell my kids now they are older that they should try one new thing a day. And apart from days they are not feeling well, they try their best. Sometimes they like what they try, sometimes they do not. However, I repeat the presentation after a few weeks.

As for personality, I found that if kids hear the parents are expecting them to be a certain way, they will be what they hear. Even if your child does seem to be "antsy," try not to say that in front of him. And if you remember as a child, the last thing you wanted your parents to say was 'Why can't you be more like .....?"

Kids are shaped by genetics, environment, mother, father, teachers and what we say about them, in front of them, makes a huge impact on their personality.

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