I have been thinking about this post for a while and wasn’t quite sure what I had to say, but then a number of well-meaning acquaintances told my children they were “good eaters.”
Hold it right there! was my first thought. That was when I decided I needed to share this information with the world.
Your child is a person who eats. They are not a good eater. They are not a bad eater.
Almost three years ago., I was chatting with one of my daughter’s preschool teachers. I made a comment about how I was hoping my daughter would be “good” that day. She told me, “No, we are all inherently good. Let’s reframe that by asking your daughter to use her first time listening.” Ever since this moment I haven’t described my child as being “good” or “bad.” But we say: please use your first time listening, or thank you for using your first time listening, or right now you are not using first time listening. Yes, behaviors might be beneficial or not so much, but we never want to shame a child into thinking they are inherently bad or good for that matter, it is not the behaviors that define who they are.
This is the same when it comes to eating. We are all people and we all eat. Yes, some of us eat more than others, some of us eat more nutritious food than others, and some of us are more selective than others. BUT when we start to give children this label of good or bad when it comes to eating, we are assigning a moral value to the person, based on the foods they eat.
Let me give you one more example. Let’s talk about the self-fulfilling prophecy. Do you know that one? Positive Psychology describes this as: “a belief or expectation that an individual holds about a future event that manifests because the individual holds it (Good Therapy, 2015).”
An old professor told me a story: a friend of hers had a son that was an extremely selective eater. When he was offered food he would say, “no thanks, I am a picky eater.” You see, he had heard that he was a picky eater from so many friends and family members that he believed that about himself, and this was how he described why he didn’t like to try new foods. He believed he was a picky eater and so he became a picky eater. Now, of course this might not explain all of his selectivity, but I think about what might have been open to him, if he was not labeled as a picky eater by others: would he have the drive to try new foods?
We don’t want to label our kids for something like eating. I write this post so you can make a shift moving forward.
Don’t talk about your child as a good, bad, picky, selective eater or anything of the sort. Your child is a person. A person that eats. Let’s take all of the moral value out of your child when it comes to food. This is how we raise a child to have a healthy relationship with food.