Choosing For Your Kids (Part 1: Meals)

::: no review + giveaway this week 
as we're moving home from NYC 
and it'll be hectic, but don't worry, 
they'll be back later in the month! :::

This week I'll be talking about our specific parenting style, which I don't really know what to label. I never thought of myself as "strict" but I suppose in some ways we are. In almost every area we decide on a framework (be it schedules or a selection of choices that we approve of) and then within that frame, let the kids have a lot of freedom. This happens in every area of our lives and parenting, but most commonly it's mealtimes.

Take Breakfast. The choices are all healthy and filling and available. But to limit the restaurant-effect, we limit Lily to three choices - banana, bagel, yogurt.  Sometimes it's three other choices, but it's almost always THREE. And you know what? She almost never chooses the same one! She likes the freedom to choose and exercises it. But if she chose outright, she would exclusively choose baked goods, walnuts, and juice, which are too sugary, too expensive, and not filling (in that order).

blueberries for snacktime! yes, that onesie was stained beyond repair.

Snacks have less freedom, just to keep things simple and limit snacking in general. If Lily wants milk or very watered down juice, she can have that basically anytime during the day. But if it's not mealtime and she's hungry, the choice is fruit or vegetables. I'll give her the choices: juice, milk, fruit or vegetables and she'll tell me her choice. Sometimes she'll protest and go for the cupboard (read: carb city), but 9/10 times I hold my ground and she makes her choice within the framework. Of course, once in a while, we all need a cookie!

Lunches and dinners resemble breakfast with a bit more choice. I read a while back that for picky toddlers it's a bit much to offer ONE option, once and for all, and draw the hard line that if they don't want to eat it, they go hungry. The book or article (I can't remember the source, sorry!) suggested offering THREE options, including one that you know the child likes. So at the very least they eat something for dinner. At best, they enjoy the options and taste everything. Brad suggested offering her the food we're not sure Lily likes first and then finishing off with a guaranteed winner like pasta, egg, or potatoes. Like offering guests the good wine first and then the cheap wine when they've had a few. Or something. Which does work! With toddlers, not guests.

I like this approach because I'm teaching Lily that her opinion matters and that I value her unique preferences (I'm a weirdo who hates all forms of cheese so I can't very well assume my kids should like everything!), while still keeping control of the situation and assuring that she eats healthy and filling meals, so long as she actually eats the meals - which parents, you can't always control, mk?

Yes, there are days when she eats carbs for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Whether it be a sickness, or me being unusually busy, or Oli needing the extra attention that I'd normally put into Lily's meals, it happens. There is grace and we fall off the Framework bandwagon from time to time, but generally, this philosophy has been a good friend to our family.

How do you handle mealtime with toddlers and kiddos? 

/// Stay tuned for Part 2 on Wednesday - SCHEDULE

1 comment:

  1. This is great emily!! I never understood those families that would cook a different dinner for all their kids (one kid only eats pasta, one kid is a vegan, etc...) I have always eaten whatever I was given, and never had a choice (I don't remember what it was like when I was really young though). I like your approach! We won't be letting Penny or any future kiddos run the show either!