Friday, September 21, 2012

The Language of a Meal

The language you use in reference to foods can influence your child's perceptions about
foods. You can improve your child's eating attitudes and behaviors by teaching your
child about foods and being thoughtful about how you talk about foods.
  • Avoid categorizing foods as healthy and not healthy. Many people associate healthy foods as not tasting good or as not being as fun as non-healthy foods. Instead, consider calling healthy foods "strong foods" or "growing foods" to create positive associations with these foods.
  • Modify the language allowed to be used with reference to food. Don't allow your child to say, "I don't like it!" Instead encourage phrases such as "It's a new food," or "It's not my favorite."
  • Use first-then language. Let your child know that he may have a preferred food after eating/interacting with a novel/non-preferred food.
  • Use positive directives. For instance, instead of telling your child, "Stop banging your spoon," instruct your child, "Put your spoon on the table."
  • Offer task specific praise. For instance, say, "Nice bite!" or "Good chewing!" rather than more general phrases such as "Good job!" so that your child knows exactly why he is being rewarded.
  • Children have a natural desire to be in control. Offer your child choices when appropriate. These may include choosing which plate or cup to use and may also include choosing which vegetable to eat. When offering children choices, be sure that you will be happy with either choice.
  • Talk about the foods you are eating. You can teach your children about where foods comes from (e.g., Apples grow on trees). You can also discuss what the foods look, taste, or feel like (e.g., Frozen yogurt is cold! Chicken soup is hot!).
  • Read books about foods to increase your child's understanding and familiarity with foods. For younger children, look for board books with colorful pictures of foods or even search out books that are scented like the foods. For older children, seek books that teach about where foods come from or how foods are cooked. There are also lots of silly books about food available at any book store!
Parent's guide to feeding strategies & positive mealtime behavior
Chatterboxes feeding therapy
Feeding therapy FAQ

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