Kids who are picky eaters …. I think I am a bit out to lunch on this issue ….

Calvin

I recently attended a workshop that was hosted by Pediasure about “Picky Eaters….”

Going in to this I really felt like I was being made to sit through 45 minutes of a round-about talk, so that in the end I could be told why a product is so good, and then in turn I would have to tell you.

I am deeply suspicious of anyone trying to sell me anything.

I have a bit of a “shit alert” radar that goes off when ever I see a sales person walking towards me or a pretty yet inappropriately dressed woman in the local Pick ‘n Pay wearing a bright KNORR banner and asking me what I am going to be making for dinner.

I may appear hostile in the wine aisle as someone leans over to ask me if I need any assistance making my wine choice this afternoon.

Clearly she has no idea who I am and how much time and effort I have spent in choosing screw top wine over the years.

I feel I know me, and I feel that I can choose to use a product or not without the hard sell that is usually associated with it.

I approached this workshop with the same mild disdain and “concern” and sensitivity to the fact that at the end there will be a big “reveal” of a product that will solve the problem of picky/fussy eaters – and my guess is it was not going to be parenting classes.

The only reason I went along was because Stilletto Mom was going, and I figured a workshop was a good way to spend a quality two hours together.

We arrived a bit late –  my fault.  I kept arguing with my GARMIN – and ignoring it, and then we were late.

The location was the Deer Park Cafe.

Nice location, nice food – probably not the best for a workshop.  There were other people sitting there with kids, and kids just don’t understand they need to be quiet whilst a work shop is going on.  So they tend to keep getting up going over to the door that leads to the play area and either standing there going “mmmmmmmmuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuummmmmmmmmmmiiiiiiiiiiiiieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee” or leaving the door open – which slams or the tired looking mummy has to come over and close it.

Repeat a few dozen times and it starts to get a bit tiresome.

Tricky to pay attention when all the little bits of “annoying standard restaurant” stuff is going on.   I sat there and dutifully paid attention.  I really did.

The workshop was being hosted and the “discussion” was about “picky eaters.”

The problem is I kept waiting for the “sell” …….

Withstanding all the scientific experience and the frequent amount of mommy-hand-wringing associated with this topic I do have a few thoughts on it.

I think these may well be some of the reason for Picky/Fussy Eaters:

1.  Parents are afraid to say no.  

I think when junior throws a shit fit that they are not going to eat tomatoes, fish, anything white, anything that belongs to the pork family – then parents stand there and the easiest thing to do after your are exhausted and you really do not care what they eat, as long as they shovel it in, and go bath, go to bed, and hopefully have sufficient sustained nutrition to survive the next 24 hours.

In a panic the easiest thing to do is whip away the meal, and pass your kid the stuff you know they are going to eat. Repeat this a few times, and kids pretty much realise that if they just refuse to eat what ever you are presenting to them, they can “teach you” to give them what they want.

2.  Parents tend to be okay with meal times being a democracy.

I am all for kids feeling a bit empowered, and being able to put up a fairly good argument about pretty much anything.  I do think that too few parents are just not up for the challenge, and it is easier to have your child win the negotiations and then give him or her what ever she appears to be screaming about.

3.  There is way way too much discussion and a bit too little “you are the child, I am the adult, here is your food, eat it or go to bed – sorry no negotiation”

4.  Moms seem to be okay with the idea of chasing a child around the the room with a spoon trying to shovel something in.

Personally if I could continue reading my book, climbing the curtain whilst the “responsible” person ran around with a spoon trying to shovel rice and gravy into my pie hole, I think that would be far more interesting than sitting on a chair and feeding myself.

5.  In many cases (not all) in many cases the issue is that the child is actually not a picky eater, but wants to exert his or her dominance. The mom (or dad) are unable to deal with it on that level, so it becomes a “picky food issue” when the reality is that it is not a picky food issue but actually a behavioral issue.

6.  Kids are seldom picky/fussy eaters when they are at a party and there is as much chips, cake and junk food as they can breath in.

I do think there are children/people who for what ever reason do require a meal supplement or a vitamin.  But, and here is my but, it should be for a period of time or whilst the child is ill, or there might be an issue that is health related that needs to be resolved.

A child that is allergic to a food that makes their windpipe close and their tongue swell clearly should not have that food and this can be excluded from their diet.

Short of that it often comes down to who ever is going to win the supper hour fight that exists in every single home where there are children and parents and people trying to get kids to eat food.

I could easily label any of my three as fussy eaters – instead I opt to go with the rule “its on your plate eat it!”

I realise that Connor might like tomatoes less than Georgia, or Isabelle is not a big fan of meat, and so on – but they all get the same meal, and some days it is all the stuff Connor likes, and well some days it isn’t.

That is the way the cookie breaks guys – suck it up, eat, and get a move on.

I {personally} believe that if your child eats a balanced diet then they do not need meal supplements, milk supplements, vitamin supplements and the like.

I think there is a great deal of “sell” on retailers shelves, in mommy magazines about why you MUST include a supplement.

The advertisements seem to play on “moms and being able to meet all their child’s needs” – and again if you don’t give them supplement ABC then you are not letting them be all they can be.

Or what ever the tag line is.

If your child is not eating a balance diet – then adding something in as a supplement or a vitamin is not correcting the issue.  You are merely throwing a band aid at the problem, and not addressing why your child is not eating a balance diet.

All kids are natural manipulators.

All kids will always try to push a situation to their benefit – no matter how detrimental it appears at the outset.

All kids, once they realise they are able to get their own way in a situation, will learn that they will always be able to get their own way if they just continue to resist for long enough.  They know you will give in.  The question is just when.

That is my theory.

Not scientific, just my theory.

I was presented with a Pediasure hamper – and I have not used it yet.

There is something and it sits with my resistance to start to give my children supplements when in actual fact they are quite capable of eating a proper meal.

pediasure_complete_logo_sm3

I do realise I am probably not the ringing endorsement of product advertising that a PR company would hope for.  Sorry about that.

When do I think it is okay to introduce a supplement?  When there is a medical reason that your child is not consuming food – and the supplement is an interim measure for the issue to be resolved.  Your child might be on medication that makes eating a full meal difficult, or your child might be ill, and the result is he or she is not able to eat regular meals and take in sufficient vitamins and minerals.

Your child saying “I don’t want to eat it….” is not a medical reason.

I feel that in many of the issues around “picky eating” is not an aversion to a food, or a food type, it is often a behavioral problem that needs to be addressed – and actually it has nothing to do with food.

I saw this piece of advise on a site recently and I think it should be on a t-shirt somewhere:

NEVER cater to a picky eater, it just prolongs picky eating. If a child says they don’t like a food – keep serving it on a regular basis. Serve what the family enjoys and let the picky eater accommodate to the family’s tastes.

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The one about religion and kids ….

<<This post is about religion and belief systems.  If you are easily offended and feel that discussion religion is going to lead to foaming at the mouth and fist shaking, then please do not read this blog post – for the love of sanity, skip it and stop by another day.  This post is not written in a very eloquent style and somewhat garbled, so apologise for that ……>>

Driving home with Connor yesterday, Connor started asking questions about religion.

Connor has quite a lot of “Jehovah/God” questions, and I try my best to work through them in a realistic fashion without getting all caught up in the fervour of religion and the “just believe” stuff.  I answer him truthfully based on what I understand.

There are certain grey areas where I am not clear on what I believe, so I may explain to him my take on an issue, and then I explain my interpretation of what other people think, and that he needs to decide what is right for him, based on what resonates with him.

I realise that is a rather lacksy-daisy approach to religion, and I may be stoned in the town’s square, but that is sort of where I am, for now, with regards to religion.

I am not sure/convinced/certain/some days and I have my doubts that God exists.  At the same time, I am not convinced that there is not a God. I think about it a lot, and it used to keep me awake a great deal, fretting and wondering and …. just not being sure.  I used to be a firm believer in religion, but then I started asking questions, and now I am not sure.

I have answers to my questions, but I am not sure that I the answers sit with me.

I respect that other people are religious, and they feel they “believe” and is a concrete thing, but it is not like that for me.  I just don’t have that “foundation” and I do not have that “certainty…” in my head and my heart.

Connor asks a lot of questions, and religion is a fairly frequent topic for him.

I am not a “just believe” person.  I used to believe all sorts of things.  I had a firm understanding of “religion” and how we all fitted in.  But then I didn’t, and right now I am still a bit in the grey area and I am just not sure….

<<could I ask that you not send me reams of emails and comments about how I should find God and just pray over it …. I really would like to put in a special request to not do that … really don’t… no matter how much this post is making your blood boil up and want to reach out and save me …. I will find my own path when I am ready >>

I naturally have a questioning mind-set, so I appreciate that Connor asks questions.

I try to answer him honestly and if I am unsure of something, in terms of that my belief system, and what is real for me, then I make it clear to him that because I think of something in a certain light does not mean he has to – it is the way I think about it.  I would like him to find and choose his own path.

I would like him to be exposed to the concept of God or Jehovah or Allah or ….. whom ever.  I would like him to view religions with an open minded, and a sense of respect, and try not get fanatical about anything.  I would like him to have a well grounded spiritual self.  Maybe because I don’t and I know how it makes me feel a bit like I am bobbing on the waves, on the proverbial ocean of life.

I have tried to reinforce to him to be open-minded, enquiring.  Avoid believing everything people tell you, and, and ask questions – no matter how uncomfortable it makes people.

Nothing is absolute.  Nothing.  Religion is a belief system, and belief systems are as faulted as the people who “designed” them – of course every religion feels they are the “right” one and that they are right in God’s eyes. <<in my opinion…>>

But as soon as you start running that logic through in your head, then surely you can work out why maybe it is not so.  I am not suggesting the Bible should not be believed, nor am I suggesting that God exists or does not – but I am not always sure, and my path, right now, is not clear.

Religion is a bit of an”issue for me” as I am not 100% sure where I stand on many things, so I can’t offer my children clarity on some of the issues.

Some we have spoken about – evolution versus creationism.

Worshipping Jehovah versus God or Allah or Buddha …..

Going to church versus not.

Using statues as part of your worshipping, versus religions that do not support using images and refer to it as idolatry.

Worshipping Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit versus only praying to one God, and not believing in a Holy Ghost arrangement.

Being a good person even if you do not believe in a religion.  Do all good people go to heaven?  If good people go to heaven, where do bad people go?  Is it enough to live a good life, or can you be a real shit, then on your death bed ask for forgiveness and thus get yourself a ticket to heaven or the ever after?

That bad people can also believe in God, go to church and still do evil things.  Who decides who is good and who is bad?

If there is a heaven and a hell, or just a heaven, or neither.

Why do people die?  Why do children die if they have not done anything wrong?

And so on ….

Our discussions do go off into a lot of areas, and often I am left thinking for days following a conversation with Connor.  He is an old soul in a young person’s skin, so his eyes see much more than just what you present to him.

Some of the more profound moments for me with Connor was: “If they have found dinosaur bones that were dated 20 millions years ago and humans were only on the earth 10 000 years ago, then how did God create it all in one week – and maybe there were animals here and plants long before man got here.”

“Why do people use statues to pray?”

This week Connor asked me “What is a Christian…?”

I explained to him that a Christian was someone who believed in Christ.  They believe in the Bible.  However when people read the Bible they interpret it differently.  Everyone reads it and they may decide that a particular section is more important or they understand it a certain way.

There might be lots of people who agree on one way to understand the Bible, and then another lot of people who believe in another way.  In short they are all Christians, but each of these groups “establishes” their own religion.

And that is fine.  The problems comes along, when each of those religions believe they are “right” and everyone else is wrong, which unfortunately is inevitable with religions.

That was how I tried to explain it.

The part of religious doctrine that leaves me unsettled is the “fear factor.”

I feel there a lot of people who stay committed to a religion because they feel if they do not they will not be saved or go to hell.  So they are so afraid of the repercussions of “not believing” that part of the motivation for them to just believe, is the risk of what will happen if they do not.

I sometimes reason that maybe if I just preached “religion” to my kids, then if there was a risk of them not believing to receive eternal life, then I can sort of cover that base, for just in case.

But the problem is I am a bit in murky water, as I am not sure what I believe and I cannot really convince someone of something that does not ring true with the core of my being.

So, that leaves me in the hinterland as far as religion goes.

Yesterday Connor asked me “If a Christian marries a Muslim, what will the baby be?”

On the days where my children are not trying to kill each other on the car drive home, I am faced with huge questions about religion and the meaning of life.

Who said raising kids was easy?

Connor turns 10 this week …

I am a bit stuck in the past on that issue.  In my head he is still 5.  I have just got used to him being 9, barely and now I need to do another adjustment.

Connor turns 10 this weekend.  I CANNOT BELIEVE HE IS 10!

Kennith has planned a fishing party for him.  It is the first time, ever, that I have not been involved in party planning.  So I get to look forward to my son’s birthday without all the stress and the anxiety of stupid party planning!  It is unbelievably freeing.

Connor is on his way to Grade 4 in 2012.  Grade 1 – 3 being “the foundation years” so he wears a “relaxed” school uniform and shoes are optional.

Next year he is in a white shirt, and grey pants.  He will be a big boy in a big boy school uniform.  I am amazed that time really has flown by with him, and really find myself staring at him and reminiscing that he is no longer the baby I held close, and cried over, but now he is a big boy, who throws his towel on the floor, wants to talk about fish and play tv games and dive bomb his sister in the pool.

Connor is such a good kid.  Originally I struggled with him.  But then I realised it was not him that I was struggling with, it was me. I was struggling.  He was actually a divinely easy baby and toddler.

Connor is such a sweet boy with a gentle kind soul.  My biggest concern for him is that he cares too much, and might get hurt because he is such an “open” soul.

Before Kennith and I had Connor, we used to read the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip – and this particular one was one of our favourites – we sat there with tears gushing out of our eyes because this made us laugh so hard.  What does make it funnier for us, is that Connor has become Calvin in many ways, and this is pretty much how a normal photo session go with him.  I tend to get this range of “faces” under normal circumstances.

<if you have never read a Calvin and Hobbes comic book, oh my heavens, then you are in for a treat …. today is really a great day for you ….>

I took some photographs of him this weekend and I quite liked how some of them came out.  I miss Connor’s long hair.  Kennith cut his hair very short at the beginning of summer, as most of the boys at his school have “razor short hair” and they were making fun of Connor because his hair was longer ….

What is the age divider for moving from a  little boy to a young man ?  8, 12, 16, 21?