What are some things not to do?

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 14,202
    Parenting expert Dr. Rene Hackney talks about some things not to do with picky eaters.

    Rene Hackney

    Originally a full-time preschool teacher, Dr. Rene Hackney now holds a Master?s in school psychology and a PhD. in developmental psychology from George Mason University. She trained at the Developmental Clinic at Children?s National Medical Center and for the public schools, teaching in parenting programs at each. She has also acted as a consultant to several area preschools.

    For the last four years, Dr. Hackney has owned and lectured for Parenting Playgroups, Inc, a parenting resource center and preschool classroom in Alexandria Virginia. She has offered workshops to a wide

    range of parent, teacher and social work groups during this time.

    Workshop topics include eight hours on positive discipline techniques, five hours on early academic issues and common issues such as sibling rivalry and potty training. All workshops provide well researched lecture, in-class practice and open discussion time. Additionally she hosts a monthly parenting focused book club and fun play programs to introduce the preschool setting to young families.

    Dr. Hackney is married and has two young children of her own.

    Host: What are some things not to do?

    Rene Hackney: There are some things you should not do - the bribery, the micro-managing, the pressure, the overriding also, too much emotion at meal times. We have known families where food is love. If you are not eating, there must be something wrong, if you are not eating you must not like me right now and that is not it at all. So, the idea is to take that emotion out, let the food be for sustenance, let it be for nutrition as opposed to an emotional bond with the food. That tends to create a lot of havoc in the meal times and lot of hard feelings all the way around.

    Another thing that parents should be doing is sitting with their children while they eat and eating with their children. For families who the children eat dinner by themselves and then the parents eat later when the other gets home, there is no one they are modeling good eating habits and eating a wide range of foods. So, the idea is you want to encourage everyone to eat together and everyone s plates to look the same. Another general guideline is short order cooking and it is something parent should not be doing. Short order cooking happens in one or two ways. Either the family sits down and the adults have one set of food and the kids have another. Meaning the parents have vegetable lasagna and sauted spinach and the kids have Mac-n-cheese and chicken nuggets.

    What happens very quickly is kids realize, I eat kid food and after a couple of weeks they say, I only eat kid food and then you have got a battle if you want them to try other things. If that is your family and you have got different food for the kids versus the adults, what is suggested is that you put a little bit of everything on everybody s plate. Kids get vegetable lasagna, sauted spinach parents get a little Mac-n-cheese and chicken nugget. Now, the goal is eventually, one dinner for everybody so that everybody is eating the same, but at least initially, putting a little bit on everybody s plate so that we all have it available. If that sauted spinach is not even on their plate, they never get a chance to learn to like it.

    The other way that short order cooking happens is when a child sits down to a good meal and says, I don t like this and pushes the plate away. Now, when that happens, 20 minutes later a lot of parents give in and they make a grilled cheese. If you are not going to eat that I will give you a grilled cheese or if you are not eat that I will give you a bowl of cereal. There is a lot of power in getting a second meal. There is power to be had in someone making me a grilled cheese.

    So, the idea is not to offer something contingently. If you as a parent know, I am not going to let them go hungry, I am going to make them a grilled cheese, just make them the grilled cheese before anybody even sits down and put a little bit on everybody s plate. You are making it one of the choices rather than offering it contingently if not. There is less power there rather than being a contingency.