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Everybody knows about eating disorders: anorexia, bulimia, compulsive eating. But I want to call your attention to FEEDING DISORDERS.

Over the years I have noticed that some parents make mistakes in how and what and how much they feed their children.

Let me tell you about some of these feeding disorders.

SHOVEL IT IN FEEDING DISORDER. Parents keep shoveling in the food whether the child wants it or not. These parents take their job seriously. They know how important it is to feed their baby. When Baby turns away after drinking most of the bottle or eating most of the food the parents persist until it is all gone. Pretty soon Baby gets used to overeating. A variety of this disorder is offering second helpings when the child hasn’t asked or, gasp, telling the child to finish everything on the plate or no dessert.

COAX, WORRY and FIGHT DISORDER. When a toddler cuts down food intake for normal physiological reasons parents freak and start the Great Coax. Of course this doesn’t work so it is followed by the Whopping Worry. (Google Analytics informs me that the most frequently opened ParenTip on my website is “My Toddler Won’t Eat!”) The Whopping Worry escalates into the Great Food Fight. Every bite is a battle. Parents are determined to get a spoonful of food into Toddler and Toddler is just as determined to control his or her own mouth. Toddler wins, parents lose.

SURFEIT OF SODAS DISORDER. This disorder starts out innocently enough. Just this once at the movies but the soda drinking addiction escalates and pretty soon that’s all Junior will drink. And the parents let Junior decide even though he’s only 6. There are multiple spoonfuls of sugar in every drink. No wonder we have an obesity epidemic.

CAFFEINE OVERLOAD DISORDER. In addition to all that sugar cola is loaded with caffeine. So is a Starbucks coffee drink. I go to Starbucks every day and am addicted to my decaf coffee break. But I see kids no older than 5 or 6 order a grande and Mom doesn’t request decaf which by the way has caffeine in it but a greatly reduced amount.

JUNK FOOD OVERLOAD DISORDER. This disorder starts in the supermarket when parents fill their cart with packages and bags of junk instead of fruits and vegetables. Then the house fills up with junk food.. (See WebParenTip Archives, Volume 9, #2. “Buy Naked Food”)

All of these disorders start with parents who are misguided or misinformed. They can all be cured if parents take to heart the following simple rules about feeding their children.

1) Relax. Food is about enjoyment as well as nutrition. Uptight parents get indigestion not enjoyment.

2) Offer your children good choices.

3) Respect your children’s likes and dislikes and acknowledge that they have their own capacity which determines their appetite.

4) Keep your house free of junk food. Better to eat that stuff elsewhere than have it around as a constant temptation.

And remember the Parent’s Mantra. You do not have the power to make your child eat, fall asleep, poop, be happy, or grow up to be what you dream the child will become.