🌱There’s a lot of anxiety on both the parent's and the children’s side when it comes to mealtimes. For kids, it can be about the pressure surrounding food they are not familiar with. For parents, there seems to be a variety of concerns: how can my child establish a healthy relationship with food, when he clearly craves the white food?, How to handle my own anxiety of my child choking when transitioning into solid foods?, or I’m nervous about my own reaction when my kids once again reject the food I made.
🌱Sometimes concerns and fear can be rational and correspond with reality, but sometimes they get out of hand and become irrational.
🌱The problem with anxiety and irrational worry is that they often become the obstacle to the solution: when we get tense, worried, and concerned, we are less likely to find solutions because we get caught up in our own emotional chaos.
🌱Furthermore, when dealing with irrational fears we often start to avoid the situation (eg. postpone the transition to solid foods) or start to engage in so-called safety behaviors (eg. over-supervise kids’ eating to make sure they don’t choke – an emphasis that will often lead to more anxiety).
🌱And on top of that, we blame ourselves: I must be a bad parent, I obviously can’t figure this out, what’s wrong with me?
🌱This is a big topic, and there is not one single easy-fix solution to all the concerns we bring to the table, but a few things to keep in mind are:
💛 find out what your main concerns are and talk to your partner/friend/pediatrician about them
💛 ask yourself how your own anxiety is potentially feeding the mealtime struggles you have
💛 ask yourself if your concerns are irrational or rational?
💛 look at the overall picture, not one single meal
💛 catch your self-blame when it starts: your anxiety doesn’t define you and the fact that you care should tell you that you are a good parent
💛 focus on the mealtime vibe and the eating environment instead of the concretes like “she only eats pasta”, “He’ll never learn to eat solid foods”, “I can’t handle my own emotions”.