The tips are from a recent post by Melanie Potock MA on the American Speech Language Hearing Association blog. The original source is Stephanie Smith who is on the advisory board for Produce for Kids. Read the full article here.
Although these tips may seem like common sense, it is easy to become overwhelmed by challenging mealtimes and concerns for nutrition. So, parents remember:
- Keep some perspective. Yes, eating is an essential part of life, but not the only part of life. Notice and enjoy other shared activities with a child, even if mealtimes aren‚Äôt one of them.
- Find ways to enjoy mealtime. Encourage a child to take even a few minutes for themselves before or after a meal. Parents can alternate some alone time and do some deep breathing, enjoy a cup of tea or whatever helps them re-center. Bringing quiet, positive energy to the table or finding it again after a particularly stressful mealtime makes a big difference in the rest of the family‚Äôs day.
- Take a break, at least on occasion. We all love our kids, but parenting takes hard work, with mealtimes bringing particular stress. Whether this means hiring a babysitter, asking for help from family or friends, or trading off with their partner once in a while during typically ‚Äúfamily‚Äù meals. Parents need to give themselves time to relax and refuel. Be assured that taking a break or missing a meal with the family benefits everyone if it means a more relaxed state of mind for the next one.
Stephanie agrees that these 3 tips are great advice for any caregiver. As part of speech therapy sessions, she incorporates recommendations on how to make mealtimes fun and less stressful for both the child and parent. Her philosophy is that we spend a lot of time eating and it should be enjoyable for everyone at the table. But first, we have to understand why the child isn‚Äôt eating. Concerned parents place a lot of emphasis on how much and how often their child is eating without understanding why it is happening. Then, mealtime becomes a power struggle. Stephanie reminds parents that it is okay, and better even, to take a step back and play during a meal.
As part of a popular treatment called the Sequential Oral Sensory approach (SOS), it isn‚Äôt uncommon to find kids, occupational therapists and speech therapists in the Child and Family Development kitchen spitting peas into a cup to play basketball or making shapes with our sandwiches using cookie cutters. Get creative!
Read more about Stephanie’s training and experience related to mealtime difficulties here.
Our team of 9 speech therapists can help kids with swallowing and feeding difficulties, including picky eating. We are in-network with many insurance plans, including Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield NC, Cigna, Medcost, North Carolina Medicaid, Primary Physician Care and United Health Care. Clients also may pay privately and access out-of-network benefits.