Did you know that child development influences how well your child eats?
Picky eating, copying friends, independence, and risky behaviors are all normal behaviors during the course of childhood.
Yes, normal behaviors.
Children move through these predictable and often frustrating phases as they grow into adulthood.
Yet, many parents find themselves embattled and struggling with their child, particularly with feeding and eating.
Why the Struggle and Strife?
Parents are missing out on information about typical childhood development. Not only are they missing this information, child development hasn’t been tied to eating behaviors or highlighted as a driving force behind eating.
But child development is an important piece to the puzzle of feeding kids and kids’ eating.
Parents Need to Know What to Expect
This series is all about helping you get a handle on what to expect during each of your child’s developmental phases and most importantly, how it affects your child’s eating, the way you feed him, and his overall well-being.
I will move sequentially through the stages, helping you understand how each developmental stage builds upon the next.
And I will show you the ties that bind development and eating so that you can figure out the mysteries behind food preferences, desires and behaviors.
Why this is Need-to-Know Information
Parents need to know this information in order to feed their children well. I hope to convince you of this!
Knowledge provides insight.
Knowing what to expect and what is normal during each development stage will help you respond to your child in a positive and healthy manner.
For example, when you know a tornado is coming, you prepare your home, take cover and weather the storm in a relatively relaxed manner.
This knowledge allows you to respond appropriately– this bodes true for feeding your child through the expected storms of childhood development, as well.
Knowledge provides opportunity.
Knowing what to expect lets you grasp opportunities to teach and promote your child’s skills. Knowing where your child sits along the spectrum of development will help you decide when it is best to begin and advance cooking skills, how and what to teach about nutrition and allow for independent food choices.
It will also help you be realistic. If you expect your preschooler to bake a cake, you may be frustrated and disappointed.
Likewise, if you hold back the school-age child who wants to bake, he may be frustrated with you!
Knowledge minimizes negative interactions.
Sometimes, parents and children do struggle. In this series, I will also give you some pearls of wisdom for how to interact with your child in a developmentally-sensitive manner. I don’t want you to use negative words, especially when it comes to educating and speaking with your child.
All in the hopes of equipping you with foresight and knowledge so that you can remain level-headed and calm, and frustration can be minimized for all.
We all know what happens when you’re not prepared or don’t have a sense of what is normal…you may panic! Panic can lead to rash decisions, knee-jerk reactions and negative interactions with your child.
We want to keep things positive, especially around food and eating.
Navigate Nutrition Successfully.
This requires knowing your child’s development and how it is affecting their eating. While some of these normal developmental stages will still feel frustrating at times, it’s how you respond and handle them which is your barometer for success.
If you really want to raise a healthy eater, you need to be and feel equipped with your new knowledge: able to recognize that some behaviors are simply normal, handle the difficult ones with positivity… and be ready for the next barrage of behaviors.
Read on for the first part of the series.
Written by: Jill Castle, MS, RDN
Published on: April 13, 2011
Updated on: May 19, 2019