Thanksgiving, oh what a beautiful time of the year. Family, friends and of course, so much food. I'm always so thankful for having so much to eat. I just love eating the food, the pies, the cakes, the fudge oh I could go on and on. Eating at home is one thing...but eating out is another.
When we were kids we were always told that we should clean our plates, because of course there were other kids out there who would just like a plate of food. I hated to eat, I didn't like veggies nor did I care for the ever popular hot dogs in a blanket. UGH.... We were not permitted to leave the table unless the plates were clean, one way or the other. This held true during the holidays as well. How did I handle that, when it came to the plate of food in front if me? Pretty easy, my parents said to clean my plate..so I did. Sometimes I ate it and other times, I threw it behind the piano that was conveniently to my right in the dining area of our home in Hialeah. I always wondered if my parents house cleaner ever found the peas, carrots, brussels sprouts and other various items I choose not to eat. Was I thankful for the food, yes. Was I wasting it, yes. Did I have a good understanding of the fact that I lied to my parents when I said I had 'cleaned my plate'? No. I was a kid and I was being a kid. A few decades later and it's different now. I never put food on my plate that I won't eat. I always ensure that I only take enough that I know I will eat. To my knowledge, my parents never knew what I was doing but it was likely that the house cleaner sure did. I assume she kept my secret because it was never brought to my attention and my chair at the dining table was never moved.
How do we teach our kids to be thankful for the food they have been given? To eat what we would like them to so they can grow even when they don't like the food on their plates? We as parents have to expect that junior won't always like what we give him, right?
Recently, I was out at a restaurant and there was a child who was clearly, not enjoying dinner. His parents were forcing him to eat and he was spitting it right back out. By the end of the meal, he had not only had a miserable time, but a lot of food was wasted, thrown on the ground, table and some even at moms lap. What was the point? Why force something that only makes it miserable for everyone? Perhaps, we can teach our children to be thankful for the food we have, the plate in front of them without forcing it down their throat. Is that possible? Is there a better way to teach our children about good eating habits and the health benefits of eating those veggies? Perhaps, it is as simple as giving them a choice? Could we put one piece of carrot on the plate, a couple bites of corn and ask them to taste both? Could we then, perhaps make a little game of it and ask them to choose which one they liked best and what it reminded them of when they taste it? There has to be a better way. That poor kid at the table was miserable, the parents were miserable and the rest of the crowd sitting within ear distance were miserable. The memory of that night for this poor kid will likely haunt him forever. The waitress also likely won't soon forget the mashed potatoes that were thrown in her direction as she filled the water. What tricks do you use to help your child eat the things they do not like? Is there a method that you have found that works? I'd love to hear. It's not easy taking little ones out to eat, I get it. What works for you?