I overheard one 9 year old girl ask her dad “Why are you the boss of what I eat?” Her dad was carefully monitoring how much his daughter was eating and encouraging her to eat more in order to earn dessert.
This type of every day battle takes a toll on relationships plus makes meal time unpleasant. It is the parent’s job to provide healthy food and to teach children why their bodies need healthy food. However, it is the children’s job to decide what to eat and how much to eat. This is an essential skill for all children to develop.
If you want to set limits around food, tell the children what you are going to do instead of what they have to do. For example:
“I’ll be serving dinner until 6:30.”
“I’ll be giving dessert to everyone who has finished their vegetables.”
“We’ll be leaving the restaurant in 5 minutes. Eat enough to keep you going until breakfast.”