The Best Way to the Stomach is Through the Heart

Jan 2, 2009 by

When my first baby started wanting to feed himself around age one, he made such messes that I made the short-sighted error of continuing to spoon-feed him myself rather than just go through it. I missed the window of opportunity when he wanted to do it, and when he turned three, I was still feeding him. I really wanted to stop but didn’t know how.

Dr. Spock to the rescue! The almost instant solution he provided required little more than me getting out of the way to naturally shift the force of will from me to my son.

Putting good food in front of him when he was hungry and then casually being unavailable to spoon it into his mouth revived his desire to do it himself.

Such a “wise and purposeful letting alone” as also advocated by educational reformer Charlotte Mason can take the strain out of feeding a child like magic.

The route to the heart is often subtle and indirect. To get kids to feed themselves healthy home cooking for life, parents need to quietly and confidently get out of the way and let them eat because they want to. We want to arouse the desire to eat, above all, not just get them to eat against their will. “Masterly inactivity” or “wise passiveness” can be effective where direct interference only raises resistance.

Mason compares teaching children—or feeding them— to feeding lambs, which need only be left in the pasture with abundant food. Letting nature take its course, we can return to find them feeding.

© Sacred Appetite / Anna Migeon / 2 January 2009 / All rights reserved

This post was featured in the Charlotte Mason blog carnival on March 2, 2009.