Solving Mealtime Madness

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photography-little-cute-blonde-boy-refuses-to-eat-cereal-image29231022We are often asked about mealtime and how to get kids to eat. Here are some recommendations.

To start, be careful not to overwhelm your child with a large plate of food.  Kids don’t really want a huge meal.  When giving them their meal, be careful to put only a few (maybe three) bites of each course on the plate.  Teach them the one-bite-no-thank-you rule.  That is, they must take at least one bite of each course.  If after they have their one bite, they do not want to finish that course, allow them to say “no thank you”, and move on to the other courses.  Kids must be introduced to foods multiple times before they will actually develop a taste for it.  Be sure not to give them seconds if they didn’t finish all of their meal.  So if they want more mashed potatoes, but didn’t finish their broccoli, you will hold off on the potatoes.  When and if they finish the entire meal, use lots of words of encouragement, so they feel the victory in finishing. Even though we want to train our child to eat the family meal, (in other words, don’t make a meal for you and hubby and a separate meal for children), be careful that the flavors aren’t too adult. As adults, our taste buds are dulled, so we tend to use lots of spices.  Kids are super sensitive with keen taste buds. Strong flavors are just too much for them. Try to season lightly, then add at the table whatever extra seasoning/spices you and your spouse may want.
Set the timer at the beginning of the meal, giving your child a reasonable time to eat what’s on the plate. Maybe 5-10 minutes longer than it takes the adults. Whatever he does not finish is peaceably cleared along with your plates. There should be NO consequence for not eating. Follow these guidelines for all meals.
Here’s the key.  If getting your child to eat meals is a problem, then between meals your child should not have snacks.  No snacks or drinks (milk, juice, etc.) with the exception of water.  Please note: this will not apply to children with health issues like diabetes, etc, or under a doctors orders to follow a different routine for eating. The biggest issue is the mid-meal snacking. With tiny appetites, we end up sabotaging our kids for meal time.  In fact, we even use food as a diversion, just to keep them quiet or content while we are trying to accomplish our tasks.  This is not helping our children.  When our children can count on their food coming three times a day, which by the way is a complete luxury compared to most in the world, they will appreciate the food they are offered and will eat more of what’s on their plate. In fact if you only put a few bites of each course, you will eventually hear him ask for more :0). In the beginning there may be some stubborn refusal, but as he learns that he will not have any snacks to get him through to the next meal, he will begin to appreciate the next meal.
Once your child has established good eating habits at meal time, you may reintroduce very small healthy snacks between meals. If you notice the meal time habits are being affected, make the healthy snacks even smaller, or go back to no snacks. Sugar is our bodies arch enemy. Try to eliminate any sugar from your child’s diet. You will see the appetite for good foods increase, and  resistance to illness will greatly improve. Even  behavior will radically improve, depending on how much sugar was actually in the diet prior to this change.
We, at Training Hearts for Jesus hope this will help bring peace to family mealtimes, and great health to your sweet children!!

I’m Out of Control and Exhausted!

Oxen

Up at 6:00 a.m., attempting to jump in the shower before the little ones open their eyes.  You wonder if they can hear when you open your eyes, because so often they begin their fussing as soon as you peek at the new day.  So often your day begins before you are spiritually, mentally, or physically prepared.  Once again you feel slightly out of control and a little cheated of that hope for the morning peace, maybe even that short devotional time.  Once again you’re moving at the speed of light, similar to running in front of a fast moving train! If you don’t get them breakfast fast enough, you have fits and tears until the food hits their tongues.  The laundry sits in piles in the hallway, and you can’t seem to get near enough to it to deposit it into the washer because of diaper changes, storybook time and the play dough set-up squeezing out all the tasks that are so vital to keeping your world turning.  You feel discouraged, depressed and defeated!  Has it ever crossed your mind that if only you didn’t have these little ones demanding so many of your designated daily minutes, that your house would feel warm, fresh and inviting?  You’re table would be ready to receive your friends for a slightly sweet cup of tea and the smell of freshly baked coffeecake would sift through the air and fill your home with the invitation for fellowship?  Hmmm….

Have you ever heard or actually stopped to think about Proverbs 14:4?  I love this verse.  As is often true of God’s Word, it has the ability to set my mind straight, comfort me, encourage me and give me the determination to push on for the prize!

Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty,

but from the strength of an ox comes an abundant harvest.

Proverbs 14:4

As we long for that “manger” that is in order and the sweet fellowship around our dining room table, truly what is valuable is the precious task that God has ordained for our lives, to bring up our little “oxen” in the admonition of the Lord.  We have to keep our eyes on what’s to come, not on this present day.  Our manger could be empty and would be peaceful, but what could that do for the Kingdom of God that would be as much a privilege for us as having those little lives trained up to become the next generation’s Christian workers, bringing in the harvest for the furtherance of God’s Kingdom?

Mom, be encouraged!  The hand that rocks the cradle, truly rules the world.  Say “yes” to God and allow Him to use you to impact the lives in your home!  Only then will they make the difference for those who will grow up in homes and schools with no God.  Work to bring your children to the place that their knowledge of the love of Christ will spill out as an offering to the future adults in America, that they may know the living God, and the life of transforming grace. Teach your children to Love God with all their heart, soul and mind, and love their neighbor as themselves (Matt. 22: 37-39) and watch the fruit that will be gathered as a result!

You missed your morning devotions?  After breakfast, sit down with your little ones and share a morning devotional with them.  I have sometimes been more effected by the children’s devotionals than some of my favorites.  Purchase small little baskets, so when it’s time to do the laundry, your little one is by your side helping with his own little basket of laundry.  Allow him to empty the dishwasher (of course previously removing sharp knives or easily breakable items first :0)).  That’s when you have the opportunity to pour into his heart with your words of wisdom, instead of promoting the worldly wisdom of some foolish stranger on television.  If you involve them in the duties of the day, instead of being a distraction, they become a part of the family team.  They will feel so productive, as if they are part of the solution instead of the problem.  Kids love to be an important part of the family!!  They won’t be getting into trouble, just to get your attention.  It will take a little more time and patience for you to get the duties of your day completed, but it beats not doing them at all.  And in the long run, your little ox is growing into the strong ox that will till the fields and gather the fruit for Heaven.  Your investment, your joy, your treasures! It’s so much better than a cup of tea!

Sharon Cannavo

Backwards Obedience

John 14:15  If you love me you will keep my commandments.

Many times this verse is read and understood in reverse.  We are so conditioned in this world to think that we must do in order to get. So, we read this verse like this:

If you keep my commandments, then I will know that you love Me.

In reality, we cannot possibly do enough of anything to give anything to God.  That was the whole point of Him sending His precious Son to the earth to die for our sins.  If we could do (in this case, work) in order to get (in this case, salvation), then Christ’s death was in vain and we have no need for a Savior.  Of course, as disciples of Jesus Christ, we desperately know we need Him to be our Savior!  Therefore, it is our complete reliance on our Savior, and our humble acceptance of Jesus that prompts us to respond in joyful gratitude and good works for the redemption, forgiveness, and salvation that is freely given to us through Christ’s work on the cross.

So, while it is important to teach our children obedience to the Lord and to daddy and mommy, it is imperative that we are not confused.  We do not want to inadvertently mislead our children into the misconception that their relationship with Christ can be earned through works.  When we are training the hearts of our children to be obedient to Jesus, we must be very careful not to imply or send the message to our children that their obedience or good works is what they do to prove to themselves and those around them that they love Jesus.  Amazingly, this could promote pride…the very sin that could harden their hearts and keep them from a relationship with God.  Instead, we must help them understand that when they do something good or make an obedient choice, it came as a result of the fruit of the love of Christ in them, as we are not able to do good in and of ourselves.  We want them to be God-reliant, not self-reliant.

Phil 2:13  For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose.

This gives us cause to rejoice with our children when they do good, thanking God for His perfect grace and love in us.  His goodness in us becomes our blessing both for ourselves and for those around us.  When we see our children obey and do good, let’s help them to give glory to God!  Let’s be happy for them as they learn that goodness is a reflection of the love of Christ.  Sometimes….once in a while….it is even fun to celebrate obedience and goodness with an ice cream.  Cherish the simple times and moments of celebrating God’s love with your children and watch how they fall in love with Jesus!

John 14:12  Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in Me will also do the works that I do.

Sharon Cannavo
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