Spoons, Chopsticks and Stand-Offs

vivian_eating

Most of you parents and care givers out there have had to master the art of compromise from time to time when dealing with a mealtime stand-off. Sometimes we barter: eat this and you can do that, sometimes we threaten: eat this or you can’t have dessert (not a tactic I find successful), sometimes we give in, and sometimes they don’t eat, simply because they are not hungry…which means no snacks and no treats in our house. When she finally is hungry, she gets dinner offered again. Recently, my daughter came home and told me she wanted to eat dinner naked…well, she did in fact eat a perfectly seasoned and seared piece of barramundi (fish) and fresh pineapple…completely naked. I loved every minute of it; her adorable bum and full belly was so precious! However, it is not always that simple and she cannot just take her clothes off in the middle of dinner at a restaurant so she can eat comfortably…although I am thinking I should try it. She looks perfectly comfortable!

Most of you parents and care givers out there have had to master the art of compromise from time to time when dealing with a mealtime stand-off. Sometimes we barter: eat this and you can do that, sometimes we threaten: eat this or you can’t have dessert (not a tactic I find successful), sometimes we give in, and sometimes they don’t eat, simply because they are not hungry…which means no snacks and no treats in our house. When she finally is hungry, she gets dinner offered again. Recently, my daughter came home and told me she wanted to eat dinner naked…well, she did in fact eat a perfectly seasoned and seared piece of barramundi (fish) and fresh pineapple…completely naked. I loved every minute of it; her adorable bum and full belly was so precious! However, it is not always that simple and she cannot just take her clothes off in the middle of dinner at a restaurant so she can eat comfortably…although I am thinking I should try it. She looked perfectly happy!

Over the years in my career, I have had the fortune of attending seminars on childhood development and thought patterns to better understand their eating habits. I have compiled a few tips for keeping mealtime fun and interesting for everyone…not just the kids. A few simple tools, you may already have on hand can sometimes be the difference between a battle of wills and total bliss!

Spoons- we use several types of spoons at dinner. Vivian has her “baby spoons”, we have funny shaped spoons with big handles, bamboo spoons with short handles, mommy and daddy’s tasting spoons for work and her favorite, a Chinese broth spoon. She will eat almost anything out of this little guy. Here is a picture of Vivian lapping up a bowl of vegetable beef soup she wasn’t so sure about until I got out her special spoon. You can find them at World Market or most kitchen stores.

vivian_eating

Chopsticks- I know not everyone knows how to use them but if you do, you will find them fun to eat with. Vivian loves it when I pick things up and feed her with them or she tries to “stab” her food and eat it. Sometime we also practice picking up things and counting them. As an adult, it helps me slow down my mealtime and actually eat at the same pace as my little one. Let’s face it, you cannot shovel in as much at a time then you are using two sticks to pick up soup ;0. Like the broth spoon, she is pretty indifferent about what she is eating with them and more exited about that fact she is eating from something different and unique. Wondering if kids raised with chopsticks feel the same way about forks .

Play- I know it’s hard to let someone else make a mess in our kitchens, but playful learning is so important; it helps form a healthy imagination. From time to time when I am cooking, I give Vivian a bowl and a few ingredients and let her stir, ask her questions about what she is putting in the bowl, who she is cooking for and it is tastes good. She tastes it and overall really enjoys getting to do a grown up act and making a mess with out any worry. She usually even “helps” clean up. Then when the meal is ready, she is so excited to try what she made (even though what she made doesn’t usually make it to the pan). When Vivian helps bake, the entire counter is a disaster. We have to hose off the cooking stool and her as well but she talks about it all day and sometimes all week. I don’t always have time to let her make such a mess, but I also want her to learn that sometimes to get the good stuff, you have to get a little messy.

Over all, keep it interesting and simple. Let mealtime be a fun and playful while still being nutritional and under control. Remember not to get too serious or stressed but also have bounderies!