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Support and Advice from TNPC's Parenting Experts

Eating properly is not only a matter of health, but a life skill that includes social skills which your children must be taught. You can only turn bad eating habits around by making it clear that they must STOP, and by insisting that everyone agree to a consistent plan. Put the plan in writing like a prescription or contract, have everyone sign that they agree and will follow through. This is in everyone’s best interest.

Include in this meeting your guidelines for what groceries will and WILL NOT be purchased and available in the house for your children to eat. ( The hospital nutritionist can help you) Put the list in writing and get agreement. Whomever does the shopping must be aware of the seriousness of this issue. (You pay the bills, don’t you?) Do not give your children an allowance during the process in which you are changing their habits. You know what they’ll spend it on. If their behaviors change, reinstate it.

When talking with your children:

* Explain the new rules and the “prescription” or contract regarding the new grocery list. Ask for their input on groceries if and only if they make nutritious choices.
* Explain that all food will be eaten at the table with at least one adult present to eat or talk with them.
* Explain that they are not allowed to eat at times other than planned snacks and meals, and that no “grazing” or eating in other parts of the house is allowed.
* Explain that you will be serving family style meals, having foods being passed and insisting on good manners. (please, thank you) Eat at a regular time, even if not all family members are there.
* The children must sign the “rules” contract you have designed. If they don’t follow the rules, they don’t eat. You should know they won’t starve during this process.
* Everyone should sign the rules contract. Meet again in a week to make any needed changes.
* Remember who are the adults in your family and who are the children. As adults, we must take the responsibility of guiding children in ways that serve their best long term interest.


Evelyn Petersen’s nationally syndicated parenting column is carried in over 200 newspapers twice each week. As a family/parenting consultant, early childhood educator, Head Start consultant, and host of a series of parent training audio and video tapes, Ms. Petersen employs an approach of providing hands-on, nuts and bolts advice to parents across the country.Evelyn Petersen’s nationally syndicated parenting column is carried in over 200 newspapers twice each week. As a family/parenting consultant, early childhood educator, Head Start consultant, and host of a series of parent training audio and video tapes, Ms. Petersen employs an approach of providing hands-on, nuts and bolts advice to parents across the country. You can read more from Evelyn at her web site: www.askevelyn.com

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