The header image is a pretty standard preschooler meal, but with an important message behind it.

Developing a relationship with food is a slow process with little ones. They are learning about food everyday. What it looks like, feels like, smells like and of course, tastes like. In our home, we pretty much use the principle of Division of Responsibility as a guiding eating theory.

What is the Division of Responsibility?

It goes a little like this. The adult decides:

🍒what the meal is;
🍒where the meal is served and
🍒when it is served.

The children, mine included, decide:

🍒if they want to eat it and
🍒how much.

 

Sure, I don’t serve lunch at 10:30am after a 9:30am morning tea. Sure I don’t serve foie gras with steamed beetroot. It is all within context of our family foods and what we eat and being mindful of their rest or sleep times and activities.

I do introduce new foods every now and then but what we eat regularly is on high rotation.

When I am deciding what to serve I try to always include:

💚plant foods – fruits and veg
💚as many whole foods as possible
💚variety of food groups
💚 and a rainbow 🌈

This morning we had a salami and cheese sandwich, banana, spinach and strawberry smoothie with a wee probiotic in it, and veg and fruit.

The child’s role

As you can see, my son chose what he did and didn’t want to eat and that is that. I followed my part of the bargain and he, his. He will get his next meal opportunity in 2 to 3 hours where he can again choose what he would like to eat or not eat.

It can be challenging to let go of pushing your child to finish their meal or eat just a little more carrot. But this is where you need to remember, you provide the meal. You have decided what lovely foods to go on there. And that is your responsibility. We then need to trust that your child will eat some of what you have offered. And hopefully a variety too.

Feeling full

It is important to respect their ability in understanding their full state too. We talk about resting and allowing our food to reach our tummies and seeing if they are still hungry, or not. We also often keep the food in the middle of the table, family style, to be able to serve more if required but also to fill their plates, to avoid wastage.

But I always try to keep in the back of my mind that they are learning, so give them space to do so. And get ready for the next set of eating and meal time shenanigans in a few hours.

 

If you are interested in a few other posts about eating you might like this one about the “learning bowl” . It is such a simple tool and can be quite effective too.