I have had a couple blog topics swimming around in my head for sometime, and today I finally figured out how to put them into organized thoughts. I am condensing quite a few topics into what I like to call the 'Terrific "T"s'... no wait that's not right, they are the 'Terrible "T"s.. yes the eternal optimist has deemed these things terrible. I'm talking about 1.) T.V. 2.) Teething & Texture 3.) Tantrums...
Oh my goodness ya'll the 'Toddler Terrific Twos' have arrived early in the Smith house hold! I'm certain some of you with older little ones saw this coming... I saw it coming, but I did not have a clue! The precious little light of my life, sure has learned how to exercise his right to an opinion, and boy has it been interesting. For such a tiny human, he sure does have strong opinions! To clarify, the 'Terrible "T"s' are not things I hate, I have just realized that they SIGNIFICANTLY affect his eating habits, in more ways then I could have ever realized. I'm going to go through each one, and discuss ways that we have dealt with them, hopefully some of the things we have tried will help you too.
1.) T.V. .... for the record, I love T.V. I really do. My husbands' degree is in computer engineering so we have nice electronics... BUT the T.V. can be extremely detrimental to establishing good meal time behaviors. I have witnessed this first hand!! Noah will bypass eating EVERY SINGLE TIME to watch Mickey, every time! And if the T.V. is on, he will slowly, and distractingly graze through his food. Now I have to clarify, our old house was not 'open-concept' and our new one is. Therefore he has definitely unintentionally watched T.V. more while eating because our kitchen is completely open to the living room. I'm trying extremely hard to back track from letting him eat while the T.V. is on, because it so negatively affects him. Lately I turn it off completely, and that really helps. I read an article recently that said meal time needs to be seen as a special time with mom and dad, not just another passive moment in our daily grind. I was also reminded at a bible study recently that our kids just want time with us more than anything in the world... that stuck with me. So I've been trying the one-on-one, no T.V., 'special' mommy-time (when it's just us for a meal) approach and it is absolutely working. Would I rather be watching HGTV... sometimes haha, but this is important, and worth the effort. Plus I love the interaction between us, he gazes into my eyes, tries to touch my eye lashes, and feeds me. Memories I would have missed out on, no doubt had I been distracted by the T.V. (or cell-phone, don't forget about those sneaky things!). Of course we try to have meals as a family as much as possible as well!
2.) Teething & Texture... it's so funny to me that everyone blames everything (grumpiness, slobber, tiredness, etc.) on teething... but it's TRUE, teething is the DEVIL haha. These poor little humans are subjected to an unrelenting ebb-and-flow of excruciating pain for an ENTIRE YEAR! I would like to give Noah props though, because he really has handled it well up until those stupid molars started torturing him. Now... I have found we really can't blame EVERYTHING on teething, the tantrums and such may be a need for parental interventions and discipline... HOWEVER, it is seriously hard to decipher which one it is! Especially since my 18 mth old can't communicate fully with me yet. The other day, after literally putting my head in my freezer from frustration, I finally realized how big of an impact teething has though. He had been SUPER grumpy pretty much all day, and basically refused to eat anything. Out of desperation, I gave him some Tylenol because his cry sounded like a cry of pain. Literally within 5 minutes he came bounding in to the kitchen with a smile, scarfed down 2 whole plates of food, including a variety of veggies, and not another tear was shed!! I don't over use Tylenol, but in that moment I was praising God for his creation because my heart couldn't take any more. Texture falls right into the teething issue because if it is something rough/hard, like raw veggies, it is off the table some days. Cooked/steamed are our go-tos. Also some tried-and-true things that have worked for me lately when his teeth are really giving him problems are: lots of veggie pouches (preferably not mixed w/ fruit/ yogurt so they don't expect veggies to always taste sweet), steamed frozen veggies, squashes, cucumbers, and good ole' Organic canned (these are super super soft). If he only takes a couple bites at times I am pretty happy with that. Also don't forget that just because they liked the texture of one food at one time, they may not like it cooked that way during a picky season (and it doesn't mean they don't like the food altogether anymore). Noah stopped liking Zucchini 'fries' but apparently likes peeled whole zucchini's. He also stopped liking the tops of broccoli, and only likes the stems. AND he FINALLY likes pears.. for some reason he hated them until recently. Again reiterating my never ending plea to never completely eliminate a food from your little ones diet... they really may come back around!
3.) Tantrums... WHOA, hello chaos! When they come, they are like a tornado, and eating ANYTHING is completely out of the question! I read a book that encourages keeping kiddos on their schedule, which is supposed to help with tantrums. Well, I have definitely found that to be true. However, I have found my best weapon of choice is to be proactive. When Noah gets hungry, he gets terribly unreasonable. Therefore, I try to keep his schedule consistent with his meals. Also I have found that he definitely needs to have a hearty lunch before his nap, or he wakes up a bear (and then gets so upset he refuses to eat). Grazing does NOT help, balanced meals DO help. Snacks are necessary, but if a kid snacks all day they will not be hungry for their meals. We are now into the discipline world, and it's your choice about how to parent your children so I'll tread lightly on that topic - but of course that does have it's place in this. I have personally found that if he is sick, physically hurting, exhausted, or hungry, the tantrums will come more frequently. Fortunately I do have some influence on preventing a few of those from getting out of hand by being proactive. Side note: I did have to throw quite a few of my balanced diet expectations out the window when he was sick for 3 weeks... we just survived haha. Take home message: ideas that have worked for us include maintaining a semi regular schedule, consistency, and predictability. Maintaining these seem to help lessen the frequency and duration of tantrums. Final thought: If your kiddo is throwing a tantrum over the fact they don't want to eat what you serve, it can be difficult, but you need to stand your ground. I always offer a few options, but never cave into something that I know is terrible for him. You are the adult and you know what is best for them. If Noah had his way he would drink my coffee, eat dark chocolate, and french fries every day haha. Not going to happen!
Hopefully a few of my trouble shooting ideas will help you during this season too. At the end of the day, what matters is that you try. That your kids see you trying, and you get them involved in some way. Noah likes to spread peanut butter on bread, and then of course lick it and try to put his hands in it haha. BUT at least he's involved.. and we're both trying. Never give up parents, the habits you establish now will absolutely follow your kiddos for the rest of their lives so make them good ones!
I would LOVE to hear ideas that have worked for you and your Terrible "T"s, please share away, we're all in this together!
Love & blessings from Noah,