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The Answer to Mealtime Overwhelm

January 15, 2019 2 min read

So many parents have become short order cooks for their kids just to get them to simply eat at mealtimes. Apart from this being unsustainable in the long term, it isn’t setting up a good habit for kids to get into.

Getting kids to be good eaters and to both eat, and like nutritious foods can be a struggle. Have you heard of the Division of Responsibility? This is a theory that can stop mealtime battle and make mealtime more pleasant for everyone… read on! The Division of Responsibility suggests that we as parents play an important role and the child has an important role to play, too.

We as a parent, have 3 jobs:

  • What to provide
  • When to serve it
  • Where it will be eaten
The child has 2 jobs. They decide:
  • How much they will eat
  • Whether they will eat it at all

Our role is to offer food that is nutritious and healthy.

At meal times, a variety of food should be provided and include a component the child will eat, such as some bread for example. Make sure meals and snacks are scheduled and not give them snacks in between these times. During mealtime, a pleasant environment should be provided, where I encourage you to sit down with your kids as a family – without any distractions (phone, TV etc). Talk about your day, ask your kids about theirs, crack jokes, laugh…but try to avoid talking about the food they are eating. You don’t want to draw attention to what they are eating or not eating because this creates a pressure on kids which can be stressful and unpleasant for them. Their role is to simply eat, eat a little or not at all. Kids may eat very little to none at one meal, or go back for seconds or thirds during another meal. They are less prone to overeating and tend to be more in tune to their hunger.

Research has suggested that every child who doesn’t have a medical issue will regulate their own eating when food is presented this way. Its not a sprint, it’s a marathon – and it certainly won’t happen overnight. I encourage you to give this a good try if you find mealtimes a struggle.