The Distracted Child: When That’s a Useful Thing

Aug 15, 2013 by

Anger-free ways to keep the peace & neutralize resistance in a picky eater or other strong-willed child

The other day, I noticed a dad with his toddler on a sidewalk. The little tot, about 18 months old, was trying to go in one direction. The dad, towering over her, was looking down at her and moving right in front of her each time she tried to go that direction. She would move to go around him, and he would step over to block her way, over and over. No words were being exchanged. She had no understanding of why her dad was preventing her from going that way. Dad was making no effort to explain the situation to her. His mind seemed to be elsewhere. Naturally, the little girl was getting a seriously frustrated look on her face. Maybe she was too young to understand why she couldn’t go there,…

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Patio Picnics for Picky Eaters

Apr 23, 2013 by

If you have a picky eater, take her on a picnic. Eating outdoors is just one great way to reduce the pressure and make the dinner table experience more enjoyable, in order to get kids more interested in eating.

For once, improving our lives doesn’t require misery! We need not always increase the pressure or muster up will power, hard work and self-denial. In this case, those are the most counter-productive actions to take.

If you have a picky eater, instead look for ways to create a more pleasant atmosphere at the table. Where pressure and ugliness isn’t getting you anywhere and is probably making the situation worse—not to mention damaging your relationship with your child—a picnic is better at whetting your child’s…

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Simple Strategy to Avoid Food Battles: Create a Diversion

Apr 27, 2012 by

Your child bangs her cup on the table and glares. Or she yells, “I hate beets!” and grabs a handful and rears back for a pitch. Or she may simply say, “Yuck! I’m not eating that!” to your sumptuous dinner.

What next?

Wouldn’t you do almost anything to have a little peace at the dinner table?

At such moments, wouldn’t it be great to have a way to keep a child on track without the usual yelling, threats, arguments, lectures, punishments—all with limited effectiveness? Wouldn’t you like to be able to have a meal without misery (your child’s or yours)? Do you need a path to resolving conflicts of will where nothing’s broken, no one’s screaming and no food is thrown on the floor? Are you sick of meeting headstrong resistance head on and getting nowhere?

The good news is that nothing extreme is called for. The solution may be very simple.

How to…

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‘Duty Made Lovely’: How to Train a Child’s Appetite

Oct 21, 2011 by

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L’appetit est la conscience du corps (The appetite is the conscience of the body).

— Alexandre Dumas, author of The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo.

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When my children were about six and eight, we listened to the original Pollyanna story on tape. Unlike the caricature of Pollyanna as a ridiculously blind optimist, we found the real Pollyanna to be charming and delightful. I was surprised and pleased to find that she managed to inspire us and stir our hearts by her sweetness. “We can be glad of that!” she would say. We still quote her, 14 years later. We all loved Pollyanna and her story.

Pollyanna and many other literary or real-life heroes are perfect examples of what educational reformer Charlotte Mason (1846-1923) called “duty…

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The Best Way to a Kid’s Stomach is Through the Heart: How to Use Kids’ Emotions to Form or Deform the Appetite

Oct 10, 2011 by

“L’appetit est la conscience du corps.”  (The appetite is the conscience of the body)

— Alexandre Dumas, author of The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo

If “the appetite is the conscience of the body,” a child’s appetite is, in theory, able to lead him to eat what is good and avoid what is bad.

The problem is that kids are born with raw, unformed appetites along with immature, uninstructed consciences.

A child “is born to love the good and to hate the evil, but he has no real knowledge of what is good and what is evil, . . . but yields himself to the steering of others,”  states educational reformer Charlotte Mason.

Kids are…

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