I’m afraid my son will lose weight”, “My son won’t eat me”, “He only eats well when I’m not here”, “I have to distract him so he eats”, “Just think that it is time to eat and I Anxiety enters »… These are some of the phrases that parents often say every day to parents concerned about their little ones .
According to Verónica Corsini , from Koan Psychological Services , for any human being, food is one of the first ways of relating to the outside world. “From the moment we are born, the relationship with the outside arises through the experiences we have with the mouth and always in relation to another.”
He explains that it is precisely here where some variables come into play that depend on each one and will influence the future:
The appetite of each child: We are each born with a certain threshold that increases or decreases depending on the pleasure or gratification that we have in the fact of eating.
The ability to tolerate separation: It is in those first moments of relationship with the other through food where the ability to tolerate frustration in the delay of automatic gratification and the imaginative capacity to endure separation is regulated.
Exploration capacity: In relation to the previous variables and as they are processed, the child relates the food as something pleasant from the outside, which satisfies him, is warm, calm … or on the contrary, unsatisfactory, instrumental, tense … In relation With this, the ability to explore the world around you will be one way or another.
When Verónica Corsini works with parents concerned about their children’s relationship with food, this specialist focuses on four fundamental aspects:
Every child is different. Understanding the variables above helps to better understand why a child eats in a certain way. A child eats depending on the way in which he relates to his environment, so it must be respected that each one is different.
Eliminate the anxiety-food relationship. Food is enjoyed, not spoken. It is important to be able to talk and share at mealtime and not focus on what is not eaten. In other words, not allowing the conflict to become the center of the relationship. It helps if there is a certain time to eat.
Create or encourage desire. Food at the end of the day, at least in our society, is a pleasure and as such, it should be taught in a pleasant way and encourage curiosity. We can cook together, include new foods in the game … Allowing children to stain themselves is the first way that many have to begin to understand what new smells, textures or colors are. If we want to incorporate something new we can place it at the child’s hand so that they can become familiar with it until they can try it.
Do not enter the conflict so that it does not crystallize. Do not enter blackmail and, of course, do not force. When we force, the child can be fixed in a conflict that is related to the power that the other has over me and how I resist submitting. Authority is not demonstrated by force. Perhaps if we as adults understand that in order to get to the chocolate dessert before one has to go through the legume without considering this as a punishment, it will be easier for us not to be angry with our son if he does not want the legume and thus show him that the behaviors have their consequences.