Holidays are a stressful time for many families. Mealtimes with kiddos who are trying to expand their diet can be even more stressful. To complicate matters, well-intentioned family members might unknowingly add to the pressure, offering unsolicited advice that, more often than not, contributes to the overwhelming nature of the situation.
In the spirit of festive gatherings, finding ways to support parents and children without unintentionally making the experience more taxing is essential. So, how can family members be genuinely helpful without overstepping boundaries?
Shift the focus on togetherness
One of the best ways that you can help a family member who has a kiddo trying to expand their diet is by focusing on the time together instead of drawing attention to what the child may or may not be eating. One statement that you can use is “I’m so happy to be sharing this meal with you."
2. Be flexible, supportive and understanding
Another way to help a family member can help is by being supportive, understanding and flexible. Model healthy eating behaviors without making them the focal point. Children often mimic what they see, so if they observe positive eating habits from family members, they may be more inclined to follow suit. Encourage a relaxed atmosphere where mealtime is enjoyable rather than a source of anxiety.
If a child is hesitant to try new foods, it's crucial to avoid pressuring or forcing them. Pressuring a child to eat can lead to unnecessary anxiety for both the child and the parent. Instead, let the child explore new tastes at their own pace, creating a stress-free environment around the dining table.
Acknowledge that every child is unique, and their relationship with food is a personal journey. Be flexible in accommodating dietary preferences and restrictions. A flexible approach fosters a supportive environment that allows the child to participate comfortably in holiday festivities.
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