Valley Parents: What Is ‘Division Of Responsibility in Feeding’?

Monday, November 05, 2018

If you’re a parent, chances are you’ve at some point begged, pleaded and bribed your child to eat. “Just one more bite,” is a common refrain in houses around the Upper Valley and across the nation. Encouraging kids to eat can be frustrating at best, bordering on downright infuriating.

This is why many experts recommend division of responsibility in feeding, an approach developed by Ellyn Satter, a registered dietitian and family therapist. Dr. Mary Bender, a pediatrician at Mt. Ascutney Hospital and Health Center, summarizes Satter’s approach like this: Parents decide “what, when and where” children eat, setting predictable meal times, serving what they chose and deciding where kids will eat (at the table, for example). The child decides “if” he or she will eat.

“There’s no pushing, cajoling, encouraging, bribing or rewarding,” Bender said. “Children should eat because they are hungry and stop because they are full, not to please someone.”

According to Satter, parents need to offer good options, then trust their children to eat the amount that they need to grow, learn to eat the foods that the parents serve and learn to behave at mealtimes.

For more information on the division of responsibility in feeding, visit www.ellynsatterinstitute.org.

— Kelly Burch