This started out as a Facebook post, but I thought it worthwhile to share here. This is an example of using son-rise principles. The principle I’m trying to teach is this:
You can be happy, even when you don’t get what you want.
January 4th, 2012
I’m in the process of teaching my kids how to eat food they don’t like without complaining. Today Granny made pea soup with potatoes. NOT my favorite. So I made a big deal out of the fact that I don’t care for the texture, the look, and the taste, but that I would choose to be grateful anyway because she made. (By the way I used lots of exaggerated facial expressions, and a bit of slapstick, because my kids are motivated by that. They think it’s funny). I I taught them the shoulder shrug and how to say “Meh, it’s not my favorite thing, but it’s OK.” Then I tasted it and said, “It’s not that bad. Not my favorite, but not that bad.” It worked! I mean, IT WORKED!!!! They both ate it, no complaints. However, I did have one food in there that they both really liked which was potatoes. I just put them in the soup and they realized that the soup tasted OK. Not great, but OK.
Just to follow up with the same procedure at dinner. They were in full complaining mode about the salad. I explained to them that they could choose to complain all they wanted, but it wouldn’t get them what they want, and it wouldn’t have any effect on my happiness. I repeated the shoulder shrug lesson. It worked AGAIN! Yay! They ate the salad and then got to eat their preferred foods.
Today was another story, and illustrates well what the key factor is to success of above model. Tonight’s dinner: Quinoa with coconut curry pork chops. HIGHLY delicious. However, there were two downsides. There was no food that Ezra really liked. Ezra started his usual routine of yelling at the food, throwing himself on the floor and saying he wouldn’t eat it, and then going to punch Micah. I figured this is just his usual “warm up” and after it’s over he sits down and eats. This time however, I was attached to the outcome. I wanted him to eat (which he never did by the way). He ended up not eating and having a 40 minutes screaming, sobbing, and banging doors melt down in his room (where we sent him to, because he wanted to physically take out his anger on Micah.) I went with him to help him calm down, but when that didn’t work and after discussing it with Aaron we decided that Micah was the one who tried and ate his food, and he was downstairs getting no attention, while Ezra was getting all the attention. So I went to Ezra told him that I loved him, and knew he would figure it out by himself, and that I was going downstairs with daddy to play with Micah, and he was welcome to join us as soon as he felt ready to. It took him 4 minutes before he showed up completely calm and ready to play with us. I remembered several lessons I thought I had already learned.
- If I am attached to the outcome, I’m empowering my kids to act out and my relationship with them is no longer important. Getting “the outcome” becomes the most important thing.
- Give attention to the behavior you want your children to have. So we went to play with Micah, instead of “helping” Ezra through his tantrum. Really why were we trying to help him anyway? So that we could feel better?
- Trust my child to figure it out for himself, and make his own choices. If he would rather be hungry than try the new food…OK. I didn’t want him to be hungry because it means he gets cranky, wakes me up early, and whines a whole lot more for food.