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There are family meals where our nerves are put to the test. And which parent never dreamed of throwing off his apron? When it comes to feeding our children, we put a lot of affect on it. Knowledge can help adjust our behaviors for quieter meals.
Around the table, the impact of our childhood memories ...
- Nothing crystallizes our parental anxiety more than the relationship our children have with food. It is a natural, animal action, since it affects survival, but not only because in our pots, complex psychological ingredients are mixed together.
- Isabelle Filliozat, a psychotherapist, invites us to ask ourselves what cooking means to us, the image we have of it since childhood, the prohibitions and permissions we have received. Who cooked? With pleasure or boredom and weariness? At table, what did our parents expect from us? All of this plays - one way or the other - on our current attitude. When we have been deprived of a small dessert, it can be difficult to repress a "If you do not finish your vegetables, you will not have yogurt!" Or, conversely, you may want to leave your child eat only sweet. Not easy then to deprogram to change attitude. Especially when you have to imagine a fast meal after a day of work under pressure, while managing the bath, homework, and fatigue of the household ...
On the menu, love or food?
- "I'm going to make him his little favorite dish, he'll tell me some news ...", "I prepared this gratin with love and nobody finishes his plate?" ... These sentences, who did not pronounce them? They translate a specific expectation. "Unconsciously, parents confuse gift of food and gift of love," noted Maryse Vaillant in his book Cuisine and affective dependencies. Too often, we prepare to eat to be loved or to show our love. We even expect gratitude. We even invite our child to eat "a spoon for Mom, a spoon for Dad." But a child does not eat for his dad or mom, but for him. Nothing neutral in this tense spoon.
From the net refusal ... to the decision to eat
- In front of us, a small man who feels all our expectations and ... decides that, no, he will not eat. Not with cutlery, but by hand; not sitting, but standing up; not the starter, but the dessert ... At the age of Apple of Api, a child has a lot to prove. In the first place, that he is a singular individual, capable of deciding. And so to refuse even his favorite foods. At the same time, his curiosity is immense. But all these novelties are difficult to tame. Which also explains his refusals. To fight, to forbid, to force - one then understands that all this is doomed to failure. Parents, according to Maryse Vaillant, should not "convince" a child to eat, but "give him the opportunity". By allowing him to choose, if we feel capable. By accepting for example a period "bananas" (it's "lived"!), Which can last several days. Any other food being systematically spread with a very firm non. What regime ...
Good manners, yes but ...
- Similarly, facing the plate, do not ask too much of a blow to our children. Just like this family meal where appetizing slices of melon had been placed in each plate. At the sight of these plates, children come running. But a dry voice suddenly says, "We're waiting for everyone to sit down to start!" Strangely enough, some people's appetite has faded away, raising nagging comments: "What's so difficult! "Yes ... it's difficult for a little one to bow to our good manners. The set of rules of propriety is gradually learned. Also, if the meal is experienced as a moment of happiness around the table, we can close our eyes to a small mouth full and very talkative ...
Soothing meals: instructions for use
- What do we eat tonight ? What a puzzle sometimes to escape a crisis or close negotiations around the table! Without cooking a la carte menu for everyone, here are some suggestions to vary the tastes and pleasures and encourage children to get out of mashed-ham-croque-monsieur-pasta. They take a little time but can lower the tension. To test during the weekend or the holidays, therefore.
Cook with them
- To develop their senses and their desire to taste, associating them with the preparation of the meal is effective. They will be so proud! Strain the green beans, shell the peas, cut the apples into pieces (yes, even at 3-4 years you can handle a knife), knead the dough, see the sauce pour ... No need to confine them to the pastry, all they like, sweet and salty. Even doing the dishes fascinates them! This proves to them that food does not exist in ready-made form. Parents, they must be patient and learn to fish the yellow fallen in the white!
Test the fantasy and surprise
- What if children were offered a picnic on the living room carpet? What if we had an orange meal? Or a meal upside down, starting with the dessert? What if children chose the menu today? What if we had a meal we eat with our fingers? Finally, from time to time, to provide a real break between adults around a meal, why not eat before?
Introduce them to tastes
- Sweet, salty, acidic, bitter, spicy ... Not easy to put words on what you feel with your tongue. Encourage your children to describe the tastes, make them talk ("You do not like, but why, what does it remind you of? And the smell? ...") They love blind tastings: a chips, a piece of raw zucchini, a piece of cheese ... Guess! And you too lend to the game ...
Respect the same rule for all
- Clearly state the rules of the game of family meals: everyone tastes everything, at least two candid mouthfuls, before declaring whether he likes or not. And the next time the food is on the table, it will taste again ... Attention, it also applies to parents who have "never" loved celery! We will sometimes be surprised. Enjoy your meal !
Anne Bideault for the parent supplement Api Apple