Friday, March 5, 2010

What Can Parents Do to Get Kids to Eat?

Earlier this week I posted a link to the article, "What Can Parents Do to Get Kids to Eat? Nothing" on Twitter. For those of you not familiar with Twitter, often tweets that others find interesting are retweeted to their followers. This particular tweet of mine has received the most retweeting of any post I have made to date. I'm not sure if that's because it appealed to people tired of hearing advice about how to deal with picky eaters who just want to be let off the hook with advice that there's nothing they can do anyway. Or perhaps people really read the article and appreciated the advice to use Ellyn Satter's division of responsibility model for feeding which was highlighted in the article.

Whatever the reasons behind the retweeting, I was truly impressed to witness the power of a provocative title.

For the most part, I really thought this was a good article with useful information. I was prompted by it to write my first-ever letter to the editor. My letter is below:


Dear Editor,

Thank you for printing the article, “Parents take on the picky eaters,” in today’s Life&Style section. I’m so happy to see Ellyn Satter’s division of responsibility highlighted as a recommended approach to feeding children.

I do disagree, however, with the author’s statement that the answer to the question of what a parent can do if their child is not an enthusiastic eater is “nothing.” Having trained with Satter myself and having worked as a psychologist with many families of young children, I would say that the division of responsibility is far from doing nothing.

It requires significant effort on the part of parents to provide the structure needed to consistently supply the what, when, and where of feeding, especially in today’s busy world. It can also be very difficult for many parents to restrain themselves from taking over the child’s responsibilities as described in Satter’s model of determining whether and how much they will eat. Parents often feel a great deal of pressure to force their children to eat.

When parents learn how to effectively apply this model, the results are dramatic.

I'd love to hear what you think. Do you believe that parents can do anything to get kids to eat? It is an interesting question to me because I've come across such wide-ranging beliefs from parents on this topic. Some seem to think that we truly can force or trick our kids to eat anything while others truly believe that there is nothing we can do. What do you think?

1 comment:

  1. This has come up in some of the blogs I read. A lot of people view DOR as doing nothing. I think, like you say, it is much more difficult than interfering with their eating. Even with all I know I still find that little voice telling me to make them eat it (I don't!).

    But I have started talking with my 3-year old about trying new foods, usually when she isn't eating. I also talk to her quite a bit about different foods and try to have her help in the kitchen when possible. But I make sure that my goal isn't to get her to eat. I just want her to learn about different foods and make her own way. Of course I want her to eat more of a vatiety but I'm confident that will come in time.


Please be sure to include your email address or email me at if you'd like to be considered for any giveaways.