How to Leverage the Appetite Against Fussiness

Dec 10, 2008 by

How can we cultivate good eating habits along with flexibility and contentment, instead of finding ourselves with demanding and fussy kids?

Teaching children to delay or forego gratification and to deal gracefully with not getting what they want is essential for today’s child who has so much, according to Dan Kindlon, author of Too Much of a Good Thing: Raising children of Character in an Indulgent Age.

Our culture encourages us to become slaves of what we want when we want it. We no longer “drink water while you wait,” or “wait till Dad gets home”; we have drive-through, frozen to microwave in seconds, along with instant credit, and forget “waiting till we get married.”

Anticipation never builds, and instant gratification dulls our appetite for good things.

Parents in Bali conduct a ritual in which they “borrow” a baby to bring home to nurse and tend in front of their own baby, Kindlon recounts. The goal is to cultivate their child’s equanimity in the face of frustration and denial of wishes.

In what’s known as the “marshmallow test,” psychologists have found they can accurately predict how well a four-year-old will do on his SAT by how long he is able to delay gratification in order to get more later.

Every day, mealtime offers a new opportunity for teaching children self-control. A little hunger goes a long way in building appreciation of all good things that satisfy and nourish.

© Sacred Appetite / Anna Migeon December 10, 2008 All Rights Reserved

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