Do your kids go from delightful to dark from week to week, day to day, minute to minute? Do you look at your partner with pride at her antics and think, “We’re doing a good job!” one week only to say, “Do you know what your daughter did today!?”
From what I hear, this is fairly normal, particularly for small children, and their older counter-parts, the tw/eens. Whether it’s hormones, growth spurts, or sleep deprivation, it happens and it’s normal. But don’t let these moods sabotage meals and snacks.
I am picking up M after summer camp these days and no matter what the snack is, she has a mini-meltdown over it. So, as the camp counselor is buckling her in (car pick up due to lack of parking) I get interrogated over the snack which immediately turns into howls of, “I don’t like red grapes anymore! They taste like poison!” (Camp counselor smiling, trying to ignore the daughter of the feeding specialist…)
I grin and bear it, “Good to see you too honey!” and largely ignore the behavior. By the time we get home or hit the park things usually blow over and she’s ready for the snack that I chose.
Handling the meltdowns:
- Remember the Division of Responsibility. It’s the framework that will allow you to weather the storms. You decide WHAT (when and where too) they eat. So, it’s the grapes with cheese and crackers or nothing… Your child decides if and how much. If she doesn’t want the grapes, reassure her that dinner is in a few hours and she can eat again, but only water until then.
- Be reliable about structure and balance if you can. I think part of her problem is the snacks at camp are inadequate. A freezie-pop or cinnamon graham crackers is not a balanced snack. Including fat, protein and carb will even out blood sugars and fill their tummies until the next opportunity to eat. I pick her up and I think she’s hungry, with low blood sugar after primarily refined carb snacks… (Luckily I get to pack lunch, and I offer an extra snack at pick-up to cover our bases until dinner a few hours later…)
- try not to get sucked into the darkness. This is hard. I ignore the behaviors I don’t like and reward good behaviors. Stay calm and neutral, especially about the food. It is impossible to rationalize with a kid in this heightened state of agitation. “But you love the grapes! YOU picked them out at the store last night!” will not help…
That’s about it for now. Still working on some exciting projects. How do you handle the craziness that is parenting/feeding sometimes? I have found that turning up the radio to drown out the whining is not helping either