Last night I had a dream that I baked some sweet potato fries and some tempeh and presented it to my younger sister for dinner. Upon laying the dish in front of her, she wrinkled her nose and said “I don’t like sweet potato or whatever that is”. Now the reason I dreamt this was because it actually happened yesterday! But not with my sister. With the kids I nanny. And just with sweet potato fries. Who actually doesn’t like sweet potato fries? Most likely… nobody.
As nannies, babysitters and parents, we’ve all experienced what a complete bust it is when our kids tell us they “don’t like” what they’re being served. The proper response to this behavior, according to psychologist and parenting expert Alyson Schafer, is replying to our children “I’m sorry you don’t like what’s for dinner tonight. Hopefully there’s enough other stuff to fill you up”. She says getting angry, upset or taking our kids’ words personally is only fuelling the futuristic fire of our kids turning up their noses.
Schafer gives advice on child’s eating habits and SO many other topics in her book Ain’t Misbehavin’ regarding picky eaters, bed-wetters, temper tantrums, sibling rivalry, and child capability among others. One of my favorite quotes from the book is: “Never do for a child what a child can do for herself”.
One of Schafer’s main messages in this book is viewing one’s role as a parent from the eyes of an encourager. By encouraging our kids to do their own personal best, figure things out on their own, learn teamwork among siblings and in the household as a hold, we set a foundation for independent, capable children without to resorting to mindless obedience and helplessness.
We don’t give children enough credit for their true capabilities when it comes to helping around the house, getting up on time, fulfilling their roles in the family and being their awesome, creative selves. Too much time is spent nagging the to stop bothering their brother, to clean their room or brush their teeth, or simply taking the tasks upon ourselves to do the work that they’re capable of doing themselves.
Alyson gives some truly fantastic parenting tips that will forever change your relationship between your children and your family. Ain’t Misbehavin’ by Alyson Schafer. Give it a read!