Well, we can tell that y'all are thinking about the holiday season . . . and not only are you thinking about food and shopping and parties, but you're also thinking about the particular challenges that face us as parents during this action-packed season. Here are a couple of questions we got this week:
Q: I am dreading the holidays in part because my parents always seem to "get involved" when we are disciplining our children. I like having my children spend time with their grandparents, but I feel that they are interfering in our parenting. Any advice on how to handle these situations?
A: Many times what may seem like grandparents "interfering" is really just grandparents trying to be a part of their grandchildren's lives. Many parents, especially mothers, are control freaks. Period. Laying out a set of rules for grandparents is usually met with resistance because it implies that they are "new" to this whole parenting thing. Allow your parents this coveted grandparent privilege . . . to spoil, return, and repeat. If you make it clear to your children that things that might be permissible at Grandma's house are not permissible at home, you're still able to allow your own parents to set the rules for their own home while you maintain yours. Just like any other situation, leadership parents are consistent. Your children and your parents will be able to enjoy their relationship and time together, and your parents will be less likely to interfere while in your home. Their job as grandparents is to just have fun without the ultimate responsibility of raising your children. Good luck!
Q: Thanksgiving is next week, and my son will not eat a single thing we plan to have for Thanksgiving dinner. Do you have any good ideas on how to make him branch out more with what he eats?
A: Ah! The Picky Eater. This can be done! If you look at every situation--including picky eating--from a perspective of teaching good manners, it makes so much more sense. I don't know how you’re currently handling this, but if you’re preparing special foods for your child at every meal—STOP IT. By giving him something special, you’re encouraging him to feel entitled, and it can also foster disrespect for the chef of the household. Think about what would happen if your son goes to a friend’s house for a meal; as a parent, you would probably be mortified if he proclaimed, “I don’t like it!” or “I don’t want this!” That would be bad manners, plain and simple—but if you’re giving him whatever he wants at every meal time, then he’s learning these bad manners at home.
So . . . how do you tackle the problem? Begin with one teaspoon of everything on his plate. He must eat everything in order to get seconds on anything. Do this every night for one week. The next week, increase the portions to 3 teaspoons of everything except his "favorite" at each meal. Again, he must eat everything to get seconds on anything. Continue the pattern, and eventually you'll see the results that you want.
Many parents freak that the child won't get enough to eat, and they give in in the name of "malnutrition." But in all actuality, most children eat breakfast and lunch foods fine, so we’re talking about one meal (and it’s the meal you probably have as a family). Good luck—the results will be worth your efforts!